Chesterton Tribune

Hearings set for Porter water park area zonings

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The Porter Plan Commission set a special June 6 public hearing on the rezoning of certain land parcels near Waverly Road and U.S. 20, but there’s already disagreement what the proposed zoning should be.

Earlier that same night the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals will conduct a public hearing on use variances needed

for a new buyer to re-open Splash Down Dunes waterpark --- a business transaction that led to the discovery of zoning problems in the Waverly/U.S. 20 area.

The Plan Commission will conduct a public hearing on the rezonings and makes a recommendation to the Town Council for final action.

Since the BZA meeting will happen before the council has an opportunity to consider the recommendation, any action on the use variances sought by Seven Peaks Waterpark Porter LC would be contingent on a future zoning designation that permits an amusement park.

Wednesday, Porter building commissioner/director of t Mike Barry outlined for planners the errors found in the zoning that affects Splash Down Dunes and about five other nearby businesses. A line on the zoning map is not correctly drawn in that area as well.

Barry proposed a mix of residential and business zoning districts for the parcels, after the meeting explaining he chose them because they’re “uses that will fit existing conditions mostly.”

Following Barry’s presentation town planner Jim Mandon said he has some differences with the proposed zoning and called for a meeting of town department heads, known as the technical advisory committee or TAC, to discuss the matter prior to June 6.

It was agreed during Wednesday’s BZA meeting that Mandon will research the zoning history of 15 acres on the west side of Waverly Road across from Splash Down Dunes, a portion of the west acreage serving as its primary parking lot. Chesterton attorney Greg Babcock, who represents Utah-based Seven Peaks, said a use variance for parking there also may be necessary depending on what the parcel’s zoning is.

Barry said Seven Peaks wants a future zoning classification for the west acreage to allow for construction of multi-family housing or a hotel on the vacant far end of the parcel; the previous Splash Down Dunes owner had a development plan including 36 townhomes approved in 2006.

Babcock told the BZA that at the June 6 public hearing he will lay out more detailed plans how the main 17-acre Splash Down Dunes site, closed since 2009, will be repaired and upgraded just like two Utah waterparks purchased by Seven Peaks were refurbished. As it stands now, all the Splash Down Dunes bath and shower facilities were destroyed beyond use; the park’s electrical panel was removed and all wiring needs to be investigated.

In addition, said Babcock, Seven Peaks is aware of some structural deficiencies with some of the roofs and buildings although the water slides are generally in average condition.

With these and additional upgrades like a boiler to control water temperature and the waterpark’s pumps and motors being repaired and/or replaced, there’s less than one year to get all the work done and an effective marketing campaign launched, said Babcock, the latter important because the previous waterpark “did not end its livelihood on a very positive note.”

The BZA voted 5-0 to set the public hearing on a special night and to amend Seven Peaks’ petition for use of the parking lot if necessary.

In other BZA action Wednesday, the petition of Tom Tarpley and John Ayala was continued to a public hearing next month. The men want to locate two residential apartments on the ground floor at 200 S. Franklin St. in addition to the two now existing on the second floor.

A site plan for the required eight off-street parking spaces was not submitted; neither was a verified list of adjacent property owners. Member Lorain Bell asked that TAC review the petition and provide input.

Following a public hearing with no public comment, the BZA voted unanimously to approve a rear-yard setback variance for Mary Lou de Groh allowing her to build a 14-foot by 16-foot sunroom addition to her 259 Spring View Dr. home. A 15-foot utility/drainage easement won’t be encroached upon.

Babcock, who also represented de Groh, said when she purchased her home in 1995 the setback was 20 feet from the rear property line; now it’s 35 feet. “It’s not an issue she created on her own.”

A second preliminary hearing in addition to Seven Peaks was addressed. James and Heidi Gilliam were approved for a June 20 public hearing on their request for a variance from the rear-yard setback on Lot 14 of Wagner Hills subdivision to build a 2,695 square-foot home.

The 2003 dates of the subdivision platting and a zoning-ordinance change affecting setbacks will be reviewed to see which came first.


Posted 5/17/2012