The Porter Town
Council faced a packed room Tuesday as it prepared to make a decision on
resident Paul Childress’ request to rezone his property to open space for a
self-sufficient farm at 1035 N. Wagner Rd.
The Council got as
far as having a second on Council member Erik Wagner’s motion to deny before
it was stopped by its attorney Greg Sobkowski for not having an ordinance in
In order to
authorize, or deny, a rezoning, there would have to be an ordinance for the
Council to vote on, Sobkowski said. While the rezoning request was on the
meeting agenda, it was not listed as an ordinance.
Town Director of
Development Michael Barry affirmed that no ordinance or resolution was
produced since it was the decision by the Plan Commission in October to make
no recommendation to the Council, either for or against the petition.
“There was no
recommendation so nobody drafted an ordinance,” Barry said.
The Council ended
up tabling the matter to its Dec. 13 meeting once it realized it was
deadlocked until an ordinance was ready.
“You couldn’t do it
on a motion. You would need an ordinance to take action this evening,”
Sobkowski told the Council. While Sobkowski is attorney for the Council, he
is not the attorney for the Plan Commission. That is Laura Frost, who was
not present Tuesday.
Greg Stinson apologized to the many residents who turned out to hear the
outcome of Childress’ request. “This should not have happened,” he said.
Council took a few audience comments after Stinson asked that no one rehash
the concerns addressed during the public hearing and subsequent comments.
The Council has read the minutes from the hearing and understands the
neighbor’s about possible decreases in property values, odors, noise from
equipment and animals, disposal of animal waste, methane gas recovery and
the question of what value this would add to the town, Stinson said.
Comments from the
floor Tuesday included Susan Wright who said she thinks spot rezoning sets a
residents Tracy and Duane Dibble said they would like to know if a new
property owner could decide to use the property for something else. Tracy
Dibble also wished to know if any soil testing had been done on the
Childress property. The property was at one time used as a NIKE missile
base, having been decommissioned in 1965.
Childress said the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has tested the soil on the property for a few
years now and found no issues. He said he also submitted a soil sample to
A few audience
members rattled off questions about what would be allowed on the property if
a new owner were to come in should Childress sell it, a concern that was
brought up at the last Plan Commission meeting.
If someone wanted
to use the property for something other than open space, they would need to
get a rezoning, Stinson said.
Childress said he
thought rezoning to open space would be more desirable than putting in a
“28-home subdivision” that would have more noise and traffic than a farm
Cindy Tilden, said she has great concern over what the development would do
for the flow of stormwater as it was so bad at one time she had “a canyon
going through (her) property.” The Town recently spent money to remediate
problems in the Wagner Hills Subdivision and Stinson added that Childress
helped with that by allowing water to drain into a detention pond on his
comments, Wagner said his concern is having animals near a residential
“If I lived in a
subdivision and someone came in and said, ‘I want to have a farm here,’ that
would really bother me,” Wagner said. “Would you want cows in your back
Stinson who asked
his colleagues their opinions said he wondered “what other option is there
for this property.”
“It sat vacant
during the housing boom and no developer was interested in it,” Stinson
said. Childress stated he acquired the property a few years ago through the
County tax sale.
No other Council
member gave comments other than Ross LeBleu seconding Wagner’s motion which
was later rescinded.
Brian Finley joins
meeting was the first for member Brian Finley who replaces the Town’s 5th
Ward representative Tim Conroy. Conroy resigned his seat on Oct. 7 after
selling his home in his district and being unable to find another residence
Finley was elected
by a Republican caucus on Thursday, Nov. 3. This is his first time on the
Council and he is not currently serving on any other Town boards.
Finley is the only
Republican on the currently Council.
LeBleu said he
welcomes Finley and looks forward to working with him.