The Porter Plan
Commission was forced to table resident Paul Childress’ request to rezone
his property at 1035 Wagner Rd. to open space for a farm operation after
there were not enough votes on a motion for a recommendation to the Town
Two members of the
Commission were absent at Wednesday’s meeting, Amy Waecheter-Versaw and
Police Chief Jamie Spanier, as the remaining members split 3-2 on a motion
for favorable recommendation and 2-3 on an unfavorable recommendation. A
majority of four votes is needed for an action to move ahead.
Voting in support
of the rezoning were planners Kenneth Timm, Tara Duffie and Public Works
Director Brenda Brueckheimer. Against were Erik Wagner and Commission
President Jim Erikkson.
Childress, a former
Town Council member, proposes to use the property for the Childress Family
Foundation which would be a self-sustaining farm that would grow produce
year-round with the use of hydroponics, along with raising crops and
animals. He intends to fix up the existing buildings which have been
abandoned since the site was used years ago as a Nike missile base for
defense of Chicago.
Last month, the
Commission tabled the request to study the Town’s Animal Ordinance and
Zoning Code more thoroughly on what animals the farm could have, and under
Animals are not
allowed in a R-1 residential zone but they are permitted in a designated
open space, Town Planner Jim Mandon said. They, however, must be kept within
a 100-foot buffer from another property.
residents at the public hearing last month spoke in opposition to the
operation, contending it would create unfavorable odors and added traffic.
Others said that they simply do not wish to live near a farm. Neighbor Sue
Wright presented a petition with about 50 signatures from Wagner Hills and
Baillytown residents in remonstrance against the rezoning.
Childress said “upset is being a very polite” way of saying how he felt
after the public hearing and asserted that statements made by neighbors were
“I never said I was
opening a petting zoo. I have no idea how that (rumor) got started but it
was a complete lie sold as a fact,” he said.
Some neighbors said
they could hear noise from the two wind turbines that Childress installed on
his property to generate power. Childress said that the system he installed
is one of the quietest on the market and produces no noise that could be
heard from a distance.
corroborated that she went to the site to listen at different locations and
could not hear the turbines. Timm said he did so as well and that the
turbines were no louder than a house fan.
Timm added that
this property has been an “eyesore” for over 30 years and said he is glad to
hear that the property will get cleaned up. The issue is the animals since
they are not allowed in an R-1 zoning, he said.
argued about the claims against his use of methane for natural gas in his
goal of making the farm self-sufficient. The gas is odorless and would be
captured and stored so it would not cause disturbances, he said.
Mandon said it is a
fact that methane is odorless but it still has its dangers if not properly
“A farm can or
cannot be smelly. It all depends on how the property is managed,” said
In all, Mandon said
that he would expect Childress’ foundation to have less noise, traffic and
odor than if he decided to make the property a residential subdivision.
Childress said that with the way the property is zoned currently he could
develop a subdivision with just a site plan, but has decided not to.
“It upsets me that
anybody would say anything to put this down,” said Childress. “I honestly
expected a little more about my neighbors.”
More than a dozen
neighbors sat in the audience Wednesday with many of them raising their
hands to speak on Childress’ comments, claiming they had other issues to
the audience that the public hearing is closed and the issue is now under
discussion by the board.
“I don’t think
(Childress) should be able monopolize the discussion,” an audience member
for not being able to allow the public to give additional comments but it’s
a rule the Commission has to abide by.
As Timm had said
earlier, Erikkson said he thinks Childress’ proposal “is a good thing” but
the issue is the zoning does not allow animals. If the property is rezoned
to open space, Erikkson said he worries that the next person who owns the
property could hypothetically use the property in a different manner.
Laura Frost said the planners could place written conditions on the zoning
which would then stand for future owners.
In a motion for
favorable recommendation, the conditions would be to limit the animals and
livestock to up to two cows, four beef cattle, 20 rabbits, 30 chickens, ten
turkeys and two goats. The property owner would also need to follow the
provisions of the Town Code, such as keeping the animals within a 100-foot
motion failed with Wagner and Erikkson dissenting.
voted 5-0 to table the matter until the next meeting on Oct. 19 in hopes of
having a full board to hold a majority vote.