Chesterton Tribune



Discovery School officials say traffic will improve with more parking spaces

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An extra 45 spaces added to Discovery Charter School’s west parking lot may not solve the traffic problem completely but it will make it better, Discovery Board of Directors Laurie Metz told the Porter Plan Commission on Wednesday.

The planners unanimously approved the site plan submitted by Discovery for its upcoming expansion including a 16,686 sq. ft. additional building connected to the main campus.

Drainage and utilities checked out too, according to Town Building Commissioner Michael Barry and Town Planner Jim Mandon, but the commission advised Discovery to have a plan in the future for traffic stacking.

In the afternoons around 3 p.m. when school lets out, cars line up on Canonie Drive to pick children up and sometimes the bottleneck will extend on to Tremont Rd. toward U.S 20.

Police Chief and plan commission member Jamie Spanier said his department frequently gets calls from motorists about the traffic backup. There is not much police can do, he said. Police can ask for the cars to move but they would just turn around and go to the other side of the road, Spanier said.

“For us, the situation is there is no place to put them,” Spanier said.

The bigger concern is making sure emergency vehicles can get through, Mandon said. Discovery Principal Ernesto Martinez said however there was at least one time where an ambulance was called during student pickup and successfully reached the school.

Occasionally when there is a car breakdown in line, there are at least two Discovery staff members on hand to direct traffic and keep the flow moving, Martinez said.

Metz said the school has ideas to work with police on directing drivers, especially in the beginning of the school year when they are learning the system. There is also going to be a stronger push for carpooling, she said.

The student to vehicle ratio currently comes to about 2.6 students per car and “it would be awesome” to get close to 4 to 1, Metz said.

But at the current rate, the additional parking would cut down on the lines even if the school grew by 100 students, which comes to about 36 additional cars, Metz said. She said though that Discovery does not plan to add that many students, at least not right way.

Pick up does move more efficiently as the school year progresses, Metz said, where 500 students are let out in about 20 minutes.

At the Porter Technical Advisory Committee about two weeks ago, the plans originally called for 30 new parking spaces and Discovery has since found room for 15 more. Planner Kenneth Timm asked if any more could be added since Discovery recently acquired five additional acres.

Metz said the school’s budget is very limited which makes it difficult to create more parking spaces.

Planner and Town Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer inquired about the school having an extra exit onto U.S. 20. Metz said the Indiana Department of Transportation would require a few studies which is also not conducive for the school’s budget at this time.

Mandon said he doesn’t believe the extra egress would solve the problems since the cars would exit onto a four-lane highway.

Metz reiterated her belief that the parking lot expansion “will make things better” and said the school would check in regularly with the Town on how the car lines are moving.

Barry said Discovery has done “a good job with what they have to stack cars.” He also said he was impressed with how they’ve adjusted the site plan in a short amount of time.

Plan Commission President Jim Erikkson thanked Discovery officials after the site plan was approved unanimously.

“You’re a real asset to the community. We appreciate the schools,” he said.

Summer Tree tabled again

Wednesday also was scheduled to continue a public hearing on Fox Chase Farms’ request to replat lots 1-4 and 25 for nine duplex-style homes in Summer Tree subdivision, but no representative was present to present the petition.

Board attorney Laura Frost said Fox Chase Farms’ attorney Todd Leeth phoned her earlier in the day informing her that there are some revised drawings being made by The Duneland Group that they are waiting on and asked to be continued until the next plan commission meeting.

The planners obliged the request by postponing the hearing to May, even though half a dozen Summer Tree residents came out Wednesday.

“I’m sorry. It’s been extended eight times already. But we’ll try to get it next time,” Erikkson said.

BZA sets hearing

Meanwhile, the BZA met for a whole six minutes after the Plan Commission to set for public hearing a petition by John Markos to build a garage on the northwest corner of his residence at 1550 Main St.

The variance is to allow Markos to build an extra accessory building as the property already contains a shed as well as an attached garage.

Markos said the garage, which will be used to hold one car and storage, will aesthetically match the house. Barry said the work is “well done” and he had no issue.



Posted 4/21/2016


Posted 4/21/2016




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