Chesterton Tribune

Owner of burned duplex in single family zone needs variance to rebuild

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The Town of Porter zoning ordinance says non-conforming uses should be phased out.

Thatís not what Douglas Leicht wanted to hear Wednesday.

A public hearing was set for Feb. 15 on his request for a use variance to rebuild a fire-destroyed duplex at 910-912 Portage Ave. in a single-family residential zone.

Leicht told Board of Zoning Appeals members he bought the duplex in about 1994-95 and thought it was built as a duplex in 1976; he wants to rebuild on the same footprint using the original foundation, and doesnít believe any setback variances are needed.

Town planner Jim Mandon said town code stipulates if a non-conforming structure is destroyed to more than 50% of its market value, it should not be reconstructed. When such a loss occurs, the property is treated as if vacant, he added, requiring approval of a use variance to rebuild so neighbors have a say.

Leicht said the homes on either side of his are single-family but there are duplexes on the next block.

Mandon reminded BZA members there are five conditions to satisfy for a use variance compared to only three conditions for a developmental standards variance. If he canít meet the five conditions, asked Leicht, ďDo I go through sending out the (public hearing) letters if it may be denied?Ē

Board attorney Laura Frost said the BZA canít pre-judge a petition before itís heard.

In other business, the BZA reorganized for 2012 electing John Kremke president and Henry Huyser, who was absent, vice-president. New member Bill Sexton joins Ken Timm and Lorain Bell on the board.

Both the BZA and the Porter Plan Commission, which also met Wednesday, welcomed Tammie Sufana as their new secretary. She is the utility clerk at the town hall. Retiring secretary Kara Snyder performed the secretarial duties with Sufana observing. Both boards thanked Snyder for her years of service.

The Plan Commission elected Bell president and Jim Eriksson vice-president. They and Kremke are joined on the commission by new member Erik Wagner and municipal appointments James Spanier and Bill Cantrell.

It was the last commission meeting for member Matt Keiser, outgoing Porter director of engineering who has resigned effective Feb. 1. He was thanked by those present for his service.

Keiser said petitioner Carolyn Trepper, who did not attend, has not turned in any additional paperwork related to her pending petition to rezone 5 acres on Old Porter Road to build 13 duplexes. At the Dec. 21 meeting commission members recommended she file for a planned-unit development instead.

Kremke said less than 30 days isnít much time to file the extensive PUD paperwork required. At Frostís recommendation the matter unanimously was continued until Feb. 15.



Posted 1/19/2012