The Porter Plan
Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals met for in-person meetings Wednesday
night. Board and audience members sat six feet apart from each other and all
First, the Plan
Commission approved the final detailed plan from Weiss Entities, the
Chicago-based developer who plans to build an apartment complex on the site
of the old Splash Down Dunes Waterpark at the northeast corner of Waverly
Road and U.S. 20.
Richard Anderson reported the final detailed plan has little new information
besides some added dimensions. Final detailed plan approval is a formality
to ensure that the development plan remains consistent with previously
approved plans. Weiss does not yet have permission to build and in fact has
not yet officially acquired the property. White Stallion LLC, the operator
of the former Waterpark, still owns the property and has given Weiss power
of attorney to petition the Town regarding the property, according to Weiss
attorney Richard Anderson.
Commissioner Michael Barry reported he and Town Planner Jim Mandon reviewed
the plan, and it meets the Town’s requirements for final detailed plan
approval. The Planners approved it unanimously.
Weiss’ plan to
erect several buildings that would house as many as 318 apartments on the
18-acre site in an approximately $35 million investment has drawn intense
criticism from Porter residents who oppose the planned development’s density
and location, among other complaints. The Porter Town Council approved a
planned unit development (PUD) for the property in January, and demolition
on the site has begun.
Next, Diane and
William Solivois petitioned the Planners to approve a plan to combine four
lots at 1510 Fleming into two lots. The property is zoned R-1, Single-family
residential, large lot. According to notes from Town Planner Jim Mandon, who
was not present at the meeting, the property, which has a house and an
accessory structure, meets the Town’s lot size requirements for subdivision
of lots. Barry said the move wouldn’t require any additional utilities or
The Planners opted
to hold a public hearing for the plan in the same meeting, and no one spoke
for or against it. The Planners approved it unanimously.
In other business,
the Planners set a public hearing for proposed changes to the Town’s
temporary sign ordinance for July 15. Board Attorney Laura Frost said the
changes only apply to temporary signs and clarify that residents cannot be
cited for temporary signs based on the signs’ content. Barry said the
changes also simplify the ordinance at hand.
The Board of Zoning
Appeals was scheduled to meet after the Planners, but the one petitioner on
their agenda, Brian Lewandowski, who was planning to seek a variance to
allow an accessory structure on a parcel without a principal structure,
withdrew his petition because he can’t obtain a septic permit for the
Instead, Barry and
Mandon report Lewandowski’s property qualifies for transitional use as a
residential warehouse area because the proposed structure will be primarily
used for storage, the parcel is less than 300 feet in width, and the parcel
borders a railroad right-of-way. Barry reports Lewandowski wants a cluster
of small storage buildings, either set up in a U-shape or a couple buildings
side-by-side. Town code would require him to screen this area with a
six-foot tall fence and bring a site plan to the Town for approval before he
can obtain a building permit.
The BZA accepted
the withdrawal of Lewandowski’s petition, then adjourned.
Why isn’t Porter
Jennifer Klug addressed the Plan Commission during its public comment period
to suggest the Town of Porter start live-streaming its meetings or otherwise
make them more accessible to people who may not feel comfortable attending
Klug noted that
nearby Towns and the County have all been holding virtual meetings since
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb handed down a shelter-in-place order to help
prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Barry, for his
part, said the Town Council had made a couple of attempts to set-up a
live-stream but hasn’t nailed down a procedure yet.
Klug noted that
even if a live-stream isn’t possible, there could be other ways for the Town
to be more proactive. Klug used the Westchester Library Board as an example,
citing their meeting last week where citizens were invited to join the
meeting by conference call.
The Town of Porter
is the only local government unit that the Chesterton Tribune
routinely covers that hasn’t moved their meetings to a virtual format. Other
units are also adding instructions on how citizens can participate, such as
the phone number to call or the procedures for in-person attendance, to
their meeting agendas and announcements. Porter has not.