Tom Tarpley and John Ayala want to turn what housed a Porter butcher shop
decades ago at 200 S. Franklin St. into two residential apartments, and
their project advanced Wednesday.
The Porter Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 to set the Tarpley/Ayala
request for a use variance for public hearing May 16. An additional variance
for a reduction in the number of required off-street parking spaces was
authorized to be added to the hearing if necessary.
Ayala said two upstairs apartments of about 500 square feet each exist but
havenít been rented for about one year. He wants to renovate the ground
floor into one approximately 1,000 square-foot apartment and a second one
about half that size.
Tarpley said the pair have done extensive remodeling to the over 100
year-old building including brickwork, the roof, new glass for the windows
and a second-story staircase so itís no longer in dangerous condition and
not an eyesore for the neighbors.
Since the main-floor commercial area was vacant for some time, it lost its
grandfathered commercial status so retail canít come in again. If the lower
apartments canít be built, said Ayala, it would remain unheated vacant space
affecting the comfort of the tenants above.
And if the non-conforming building were to be torn down, said the men, it
would be difficult to rebuild on the site using current zoning codes.
Even though a use variance is required, it wonít affect the townís
comprehensive plan by having a four-unit apartment building in the downtown,
said Ayala. The property is zoned Residential-2.
BZA member Bill Sexton said for a four-unit rental building, town code
requires eight off-street parking spaces. Ayala said behind the building at
least six, probably eight, cars can be parked and he will confirm the size
of the spaces.
BZA members also asked that a plat of survey showing lot dimensions be
submitted as well as a sketch of the proposed floor plan for all apartments.
A second petition was set for public hearing May 16 when the board
unanimously advanced Mary Lou de Grohís request for a development standard
variance so a four-season room she plans to build can be situated 9.1 feet
into the required 35-foot setback. Grohís attorney, Greg Babcock, said a
15-foot utility easement at the back of his clientís yard wonít be impacted
by construction of the 14 foot by 16 foot sun room, which will be adjacent
to an existing deck.
Babcock said when de Groh purchased her home in 1995 the rear-yard setback
was only 20 feet and no variance would be required now if that were the
In other business, the BZA voted unanimously to ask the Town Council to
allow the Porter Clerk-treasurerís office to provide zoning petitioners with
the list of names needed so they can give adjacent property owners notice of
a scheduled public hearing. Currently the Porter County Assessorís Office
provides the names but has no legal obligation to do so.
Town planner Jim Mandon said having the city/town provide the names is used
by almost half the larger municipalities. Sexton asked if Porter would incur
liability if a name is left off the list; Frost said yes but thereís more
potential for mistakes if the petitioner gets their own names somewhere