Olthof Homes LLC is
looking to get a long dormant planned unit development project--located on
1050N in the Crocker area of Chesterton--off the dime.
The only trick:
Olthof is hopeful the Advisory Planning Commission would be amenable either
to eliminating or otherwise drastically reducing the commercial component of
the mixed-use PUD.
representative Ed Recktenwall appeared before the Plan Commission at its
meeting Thursday night to make the request, after Olthof acquired the
39-acre property on contract earlier this year from original developer Don
Coker, who secured approval for the PUD in 2005.
The town duly
annexed the site--located south of 1050N and west of the Abercrombie Woods
subdivision--in 2007 but Coker, following primary plat approval, let the
project go fallow.
reminded the commission, Coker’s PUD provides for 48 single-family homes in
an R-1 strip on the east side of the site, then 23 duplexes in an R-2 strip
in the middle, and finally nine acres of mixed business and light industrial
on the west side.
however--which is currently building homes in the Morgan’s Corner
neighborhood of Coffee Creek Center--isn’t in the business of commercial
development, Recktenwall said. Olthof’s proposal: either reducing the number
of commercial lots on the property or eliminating them altogether. Proposed
changes include adding up to 27 more R-2 lots in the middle strip in place
of the commercial space to bring the total number of R-2 lots to 50. The 43
R-1 lots would remain unchanged.
Kopko, however, raised concerns about commercial land going to waste. “I
just hate to see us lose more and more commercial,” he said. “I hate to see
commercial lose out to residential.”
Darnell said the same. “Our concern is trying to find places for people to
work here, with good-paying jobs.”
responded that in Olthof’s development experience, the commercial market
right now is lackluster. But he said that Olthof is willing to compromise
with the town and suggested that the northwest corner of the property could
be left commercial.
Stone indicated that he was unprepared to make any immediate decision.
“Without doing a little research, I can’t make a decision one way or
another,” he said.
The commission did
ask Town Engineer Mark O’Dell what he has observed regarding the level of
interest in commercial development in Chesterton. O’Dell said that there is
interest but often inquiries focus on Coffee Creek Center and specific
vacant parcels of land. Of Springdale, O’Dell said that there hasn’t been
any interest. “The west side is dead. I don’t think anyone even knows the
parcel exists anymore.”
When Planner Jim
Kowalski expressed surprise that Recktenwall was even appearing before the
commission, seeking to amend the PUD at this time, O’Dell replied that
Olthof first approached staff about the issue and that he directed
Recktenwall to the commission. “No decision needs to be made tonight,”
O’Dell said. “Just think about it for a month, If you want commercial, they
need to know that.”
The commission will
revisit the issue at its meeting next month.