Chesterton Tribune



Town of Chesterton petitions BZA for boxcar restroom variances

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Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals President Richard Riley recused himself on Thursday and Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson formally--albeit temporarily--removed herself as the BZA’s legal counsel, when the Town of Chesterton appeared before the board to request three variances as part of the boxcar restroom project in Thomas Centennial Park.

Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St., has been a main driver of the boxcar project.

Paulson, for her part, told the BZA that, inasmuch as she represents both the board and the petitioner appearing before the board, she would be unable to offer impartial legal advice and needed to withdraw.

Riley left the dais, Paulson her accustomed chair at the side table, and each took a seat in the audience for the duration of the petition.

Members then voted unanimously to appoint attorney Greg Babcock--who had other business with the board later in the meeting--as its legal counsel pro tempore. Babcock gladly accepted the position and Paulson’s chair.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell--whom the Park Board at its February meeting unanimously appointed its agent in the matter--then presented the petition for the three variances:

* One to locate an accessory structure--namely, the boxcar restroom and the caboose warming/cooling station--two feet from a rear lot line, three feet closer than the five feet specified by the Zoning Ordinance. This variance is required because the wooden access ramp, located to the north of the boxcar/caboose, would come to within two feet of the rear lot line, O’Dell said.

* One to locate an accessory structure 11 inches from a principal structure, namely, the old New York Central passenger depot, now the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s offices. Under the Zoning Ordinance, an accessory structure must be located at least 10 feet from a principal structure. This variance is required because the Chamber building’s roof overhang would come to within 11 inches of the rear of the caboose, O’Dell said.

* And one to allow an accessory structure to be up to 20 feet in height, four feet taller than the 16 feet specified by the Zoning Ordinance. This variance is required because the roof which would cover the access ramp behind the boxcar/caboose could be as tall as 20 feet, O’Dell said.

Of the concept in general O’Dell said, “It’s pretty exciting, it’s a pretty cool project.” But he did emphasize that the Park Board, in appointing him its agent, is adamant that the petition for the variances be pursued with all due transparency.

Members expressed their enthusiasm for the project but only one had a question. Kim Parrilli-Goldak was interested in knowing whether the Park Board intends to match the roof of the wooden access ramp with the Chamber building’s terra cotta tiled roof.

Riley, speaking from the audience, said that matching the two roofs would be ideal but it depends on the cost of the terra cotta tiles.

The board then voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the petition at its next meeting, Thursday, March 22.

With that business concluded, Riley re-joined the board and Paulson returned to her chair at the side table.



Posted 2/23/2018




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