The Porter Plan Commission gave unanimous approval Wednesday to the concept
of the much-touted Gateway development, but it stopped short of taking the
next step to consider changes in zoning classifications for parcels within
the planning area.
The commission approved a motion recommending the Town Council amend the
Porter comprehensive plan to include the Gateway proposal, which eyes about
121 acres in the Indiana 49 and U.S. 20 corridors to provide new
opportunities for lodging, recreational and shopping activities for visitors
to Porter and the Indiana Dunes.
But with some of that land currently zoned for industrial uses, town
director of engineering Matt Keiser told the commission, Porter legally
can’t deny such development if it meets town standards and that would be
detrimental to the Gateway’s goals.
Advised town planner Jim Mandon, “If we don’t want a warehouse in that
location, you certainly want to follow up with zoning changes as fast as you
If the commission really supports the Gateway plan, Mandon added, it makes
sense to adopt new zoning so only those uses can happen there.
The commission can initiate zoning changes but a final decision would be up
to the Town Council.
Commission president Lorain Bell said he prefers to wait until the Town
Council actually puts the Gateway into the comprehensive plan before
tackling the zoning issue. No one made a motion to do otherwise.
Of specific concern is the Munson Place light-industrial park at the
southeast quadrant of Indiana 49 and U.S. 20. Its only tenant is the Porter
County Tourism Visitor Center, but a resort hotel, restaurants, shops and
mini-golf course are proposed there.
As the Gateway discussion began, Bell said it would be “short and sweet". He
noted the project has been discussed publicly at repeated meetings, and last
month the commission conducted a formal public hearing on it.
Member Greg Stinson said as much as he disagrees with certain aspects of the
plan, he moved to forward it to the Town Council with a favorable
In other business, an intended preliminary hearing on an extension of
primary plat for Phase 1 of The Trails of Porter residential subdivision was
continued on the advice of the town attorney. Phase 1 involves 54 lots in
the 190-lot project approved in 2009 for the northeast corner of Wood Street
and Mineral Springs Road south of the CSX railroad in an area known as the
Iron Triangle. No construction has begun.
Earlier Wednesday, Bell recused himself as a member of the Porter Board of
Zoning Appeals because he is co-owner of a company seeking a BZA variance.
John Bell representing J&L Bell Ltd. LLC said the company wants to build a
new warehouse but doesn’t want to pave the parking areas, which would be
graveled. “If we were to invest in an asphalt or cement drive, it would just
be torn up by trucks because of tight turns on the property.”
Voting 3-0 with Bell recused and John Kremke absent, the BZA set a public
hearing on the petition for May 18.
The BZA also adopted on a 4-0 vote findings of fact supporting its March 16
denial of a use variance for Paul and Valerie Piotrowski; they had sought to
open a cabinet showroom in the former Waverly Community Center building,
which is zoned residential. Several neighbors opposed the request.