Chesterton Tribune

BZA rejects variance for taller building at Porter Beach

Back to Front Page






No, said the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals.

The BZA voted 5-0 Wednesday to deny the request of Gus Sitaras to expand a non-conforming Porter Beach two-flat at 3022 Wabash St. by adding a second story.

Member Greg Stinson moved to deny the variance petition because Sitaras didnít prove a practical difficulty exists to use his property as intended; Sitarasí stated reason was that going from a 5,500 square-foot home into a 1,200 square-foot home is hard so a second-story family room is needed.

John Scott remonstrated during a public hearing saying his views of the Lake Michigan beach would be compromised if his neighborís proposed final height of 33 feet 7 inches is allowed. He also said a yes from the BZA would open the floodgates for other Porter Beach residents wanting to build additional stories.

Sitaras attorney Terry Hiestand said Scottís property towers above the petitionerís so no views would be obstructed. Hiestand emphasized town code allows 35 feet in height and no variance beyond that is being sought.

Board member Elka Nelson expressed concern that town staff were taking Sitarasí architectís word for what the final height would be. ďDo you assume thatís it? If I grant a variance I donít know how high it will look.Ē Member Lorain Bell also questioned the average lot grade.

Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser and town planner Jim Mandon said Sitaras isnít asking for a height variance and if itís determined later during the building-permit phase that one is required, heíll have to come back to the BZA. Hiestand agreed the risk is his clientís.

During public comment Tom DeMass neither opposed nor supported the petition but questioned the zoning non-conformities at the Sitaras home.

Hiestand said based on current town standards the building site is too narrow, too small, the structure too close to a property line and the deck encroaches on a right-of-way --- none of which are that unusual at Porter Beach, he told the BZA. Because of the non-conformity, Sitaras is required to seek permission to add square footage to the home, which he said would become a single-family unit if the variance were approved.

Sitaras had been on the agenda of the Plan Commission, which met next, for a preliminary hearing to combine his three lots into one lot of record for zoning purposes as required if the variance were allowed; it was announced his resubdivision petition had been withdrawn.

The commission did elect Jim Eriksson vice-president to fill that vacancy after former member Ken Timm moved to the BZA. Vote was 4-0 with Eriksson abstaining and Art Elwood and John Kremke absent.

The BZA ruled on a second petition Wednesday. No one commented during a public hearing and the board voted 5-0 to grant setback variances for Vic and Mary Sue Smith to build a 25-foot by 30-foot garage along the north property line at 2920 Market St. at Porter Beach. At its May meeting the Plan Commission combined the Smith lots into one lot of record.


Posted 6/16/2011