Chesterton Tribune

Porter Beach rules adopted; building moratorium over

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Itís official: a temporary building moratorium there was lifted Tuesday and Porter Beach now has new zoning regulations to guide more orderly future development.

On a series of 5-0 votes the Town Council suspended the rules and accepted the 13-page recommendation from the Porter Plan Commission to create a Lakeshore Preservation District with policies and developmental/performance standards unique to Porter Beach.

In some cases the requirements are more restrictive and in others less so.

Detractors say the overlay is a costly, burdensome demand being made on one area of town; special rules are justified, according to supporters, because of the lakefrontís unique soil types and features.

Town officials hailed the overlayís adoption as a significant step long overdue and thanked all involved for their dedication, yet they also acknowledged thereís still more work to be done at Porter Beach.

Town attorney Patrick Lyp said the thornier issue of encroachments on both public and private property, parking lots, stairs and other structures illegally placed also needs to be addressed apart from the overlay.

Councilman Jon Granat asked how those matters should be addressed because ďthatís a bigger messĒ than developing the overlay.

Councilman Dave Babcock agreed yes, it will be difficult, and president Michele Bollinger said perhaps itís a task for the next Town Council.

For more than a decade previous attempts to adopt a Porter Beach overlay failed; during the past year a committee of town officials and beach residents Jamie Hogan, Elka Nelson and Jerry Sadock fine-tuned an overlay draft prepared by town planner Jim Mandon.

A formal public hearing on it was conducted by the Plan Commission Nov. 18 although comment had been allowed at other town meetings as well.

Last night, only three residents joined staff, consultants and reporters in the audience to hear Mandonís presentation. Bollinger said all council members were familiar with the preservation district proposals.

Mandon said a major difference between the current town code and the overlay is that the latter allows existing non-conforming structures to be rebuilt, which he described as a huge advantage for beach residents. Mandon also said the mapping done and information gathered by the overlay committee is an invaluable source of data.

Granat asked how the overlayís emphasis on using native vegetation at Porter Beach will be carried out. Mandon said the town will rely on other agencies with horticultural expertise like the National Park Service for recommendations.

An addition to the overlay suggested by the Plan Commission and adopted by the Town Council will require private property owners abutting the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to notify its headquarters prior to any land disturbance.

In a related matter, the Town Council also voted unanimously under suspension of the rules to adopt technical amendments to the zoning ordinance including the repeal of a 1992 ordinance that specifically required a petitioner seeking a building permit at Porter Beach first to obtain approval from the town Board of Zoning Appeals.

Lyp said the town has not enforced that ordinance because the BZA doesnít have expertise to oversee building code compliance.

Other zoning amendments adopted Tuesday eliminate discrepancies with state law over criteria for BZA adoption of both development- standard and use variances.

A third ordinance was adopted 5-0 approving technical amendments to the Porter subdivision control ordinance, in part incorporating federal MS4 stormwater requirements. Babcock prompted a lengthy discussion whether the subdivision ordinance should include direction for developers and homeowners where to route their sump pump discharges.

Mandon felt drainage already was or could be better addressed in other areas of town code and town standards. Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser said he felt the matter is covered and makes clear sump pumps canít be tied into sanitary sewers.

A final ordinance adopted Tuesday allows the town to recoup a $75 fee charged the town by Indiana American Water Co. when IAWC is requested to shut off water for failure to remit payment for Porter sewage service. The water customer in default will be billed for the shut-off order.



Posted 12/9/2009