Chesterton Tribune

Porter reluctantly approves 68-acre subdivision surrounded by RR tracks

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By PAULENE POPARAD

“This whole thing stinks.”

“It’s a bad deal in my opinion.”

Despite their comments, some Porter Plan Commission members reluctantly give primary plat approval Wednesday to The Trails of Porter subdivision slated for 68 acres in what is known as the Iron Triangle.

It’s still not known which town lift station will receive sewage from the 190-home development, but town attorney Patrick Lyp said plat approval does not obligate the town to provide utility services.

Vote was 6-0 with member Lorain Bell abstaining. He later said he didn’t want to be the lone no vote.

Dec. 18, 2007 the Plan Commission voted 4-2 sending an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council on a planned unit development ordinance that would set parameters for B&R Development’s single-family subdivision.

The new council, in office six weeks, approved the PUD zoning Feb. 12, 2008 on a 4-1 vote with Jon Granat dissenting.

Plan Commission objections have ranged from the density, although the parcel’s previous zoning would have allowed hundreds of apartments, and the subdivision having only two entrances off South Mineral Springs Road. Two railroads and Interstate 94 block other access.

Developers agreed to install turn lanes at Mineral Springs’ three-way intersection with Old Porter Road north of Wood Street.

In December, town planner Jim Mandon praised the subdivision plan and said it’s been massaged to the point it will have the least amount of impact to surrounding properties. During a public hearing last night, no one commented.

Project manager Michael Duffy of the Duneland Group made a one-minute presentation to the commission.

“I’m not sure I can tell you anything more than you already know,” he said. The subdivision plat mirrors the PUD.

Kenn Kraus of town engineer Haas & Associates said, save for their minor recommendations Duffy indicated would be addressed, all subdivision documentation was in compliance with town code and Haas recommended approval of the plat.

After the vote developer Bob Gorgei said he and co-developer Rich Brennan are taking bids for infrastructure installation.

Brennan said a construction timetable will depend on the economy. “There’s a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Gorgei.

Last year B&R Development bought 5 acres adjacent to the 63 it owns with the intent the new parcel be a town park. Six additional acres are designated for recreational use within the subdivision.

Last night, commission and council member Todd Martin, who also serves as liaison to the Porter Park Board, said that board met Tuesday and indicated they don’t want the 5 acres to be a public park because it abuts the active CSX railroad.

The Park Board did not formalize its decision with a vote, said Martin.

Under the PUD if the Park Board doesn’t develop and maintain the 5 acres as a park, the subdivision developer and/or future property owners’ association will.

Plan Commission member Greg Stinson said he didn’t like The Trails’ plan in 2007, and “I like it probably less now but the petitioner met the requirements as outlined in the PUD ordinance adopted by the Town Council.”

Stinson continued, “It’s a bad deal in my opinion. The Town Council didn’t take our advice. In my opinion every advantage, every loose end seems to favor the petitioner.”

After the meeting Bell said, “This whole thing stinks,” and he can’t figure out what the Town Council was thinking.

New Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser formerly served as project manager for The Trails with the Duneland Group.

Now that its plat has been approved, he will replace Brenda Brueckheimer on the Plan Commission beginning next month.

 

 

Posted 6/18/2009