Chesterton Tribune



Porter BZA grants variance for upstairs apartment

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Three neighbors wrote letters in support of Porter resident Michele Schmitt’s petition for a use variance to use an upstairs apartment at her home at 15 Franklin St. as a rental property.

Schmitt appeared before the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals at its meeting Wednesday night to request the variance, so she can renovate and rent out an upstairs unit in her home, a single-family dwelling. Questioned about the history of the upstairs unit, Schmitt could only say that, when she purchased the home 10 years ago, the apartment was not habitable and that it’s remained so since. Schmitt said that she knew nothing about the residence’s past uses.

Members’ main concern was parking. Schmitt reported that there is street parking available in front of her home and that she currently has unused parking at the rear, which includes a garage and extra space accessible by an alley.

“She has a double-sized lot,” noted Member Laura Madigan, “which is more than adequate.”

Three of Schmitt’s neighbors on Franklin Street--Maria Sosa, James Niec, and James Frieske--wrote letters in support of her petition. “Michele is a responsible individual,” Sosa wrote, while Niec stated that Schmitt is a kind, clean neighbor and that he’s confident she will rent to responsible tenants.

Town Planning Consultant Jim Mandon, for his part, noted that the condition peculiar to the property which makes the upstairs unit really only usable as a rental apartment is the fact that it’s accessible solely by an exterior stairway. Converting the property for single-family use, Mandon stated, would be labor intensive and costly and using the structure for its original purpose as a two-unit dwelling would do no harm to the community.

Members voted unanimously to grant the variance. Member Henry Huyser was not in attendance. At a public hearing which preceded the vote, no one appeared in person to speak in favor of the petition or in opposition.


Posted 10/19/2017




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