Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter BZA permits year round activities at Seven Peaks Waterpark

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Seven Peaks Waterpark will no longer be just a summertime attraction, but a recreational destination for every season of the year with paintball, electric go-carts, a fall festival and an ice skating rink.

But first, the owners must take steps toward the improvements they were asked to do by the Town of Porter’s plan commission nearly two years ago.

The Porter Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 on Wednesday to allow the new uses with the conditions that Seven Peaks by June 6 -- the opening day of the water park -- make drainage improvements to the parking lot, submit a stormwater site plan to the state, and work with the residents of the neighboring Summer Tree subdivision to the west to put up a fence for privacy.

By July 31, Seven Peaks is to have added new turn lanes off of Waverly Road to control traffic and install a new ticket booth on the northwest section of the parking lot.

Then, after having two complete seasons to build up revenue, park owners will need to have all the parking area paved and landscaped by Oct. 31, 2016.

Seven Peaks’ new manager Scott Brinton, whose father Gary Brinton purchased the park in 2012, said being new on the job he was unaware of the “promises” made by Seven Peaks managers before him. He agreed to turn in written commitments by the board’s next meeting in April.

“I see myself as a fresh face and I am willing to work with you to make this successful,” Brinton said.

As for activities, the BZA imposed a number of conditions that were suggested in the discussions from last month’s Technical Advisory Committee meeting. The paintball area, on the property’s northeast corner, will have a maximum limit of 50 participants and require a 12-foot high net.

The BZA gave the permission for the paintball area to be open all year, not just in the spring and fall as discussed previously at the TAC meeting.

Briton will be allowed to have a go-cart track as long as he uses electric carts.

“Those don’t make too much noise,” commented BZA member Kenneth Timm.

Brinton explained the reason he wants to offer these new activities is to “give the season pass holders something to do year-round and to have “a competitive edge” over other water park facilities.

Helping the neighbors

The BZA agreed with Seven Peaks’ request to hold a public hearing the same meeting as a preliminary hearing.

No one from the floor objected to any of the activities discussed, but two neighbors raised concerns about the recurring flooding seen on their properties.

Mario Guajardo and Levi Neely said “they are all for” what Brinton and his team have proposed, but asked that something be done about the standing water problem they have in their yards on the east side of Waverly Rd..

“Our big problem is the flooding. I hope there can be a solution for it,” Guajardo said. Flooding has been a regular problem, even before Seven Peaks opened for business in 2013, he said.

Town Director of Development Michael Berry said a specialist from Soil Solutions had found bits of an old field tile that has broken apart in that area. There is also a concrete wall with two spots were water is getting through.

Brinton said he would try to remedy the problem by digging “French drains” that will collect storm water and then be pumped into the pond on site.

BZA President John Kremke told Brinton he would like to see a detailed drainage plan rather than just digging with a tractor.

Meanwhile, neighbor Lynn Johnson, who lives in Summer Tree subdivision, said that the traffic issues shouldn’t be ignored with the addition of the new activities.

“We see the line in the summer back up all the way to U.S. 20. There’s got to be a way to control that traffic,” Johnson said.

She also mentioned that there have been patrons who have gotten their cars stuck in the parking lot and wander over to neighbors asking for help. She asked that measures be taken to keep people off private property.

Brinton said he could put up a type a fence that would agreeable for the neighbors.

Concerning the traffic, town planner Jim Mandon said the TAC believes traffic generated by the new activities would not exceed what is seen now on days the water park is open.

A Job to Do

BZA members said several times during the discussion that they take issue with the fact that the required improvements for Waverly Rd. and in the Seven Peaks parking area imposed by the town in August 2013 have not been carried out.

Member Bill Stronks said there has been little good faith effort seen by Seven Peaks and he would have an easier time approving the new use request had those improvements been made.

The town has the authority to revoke the variance for the water park all together if Seven Peaks fails to comply.

“That gives (Brinton) all the reason in the world to get things done,” said member William Sexton.

Kremke said all the members would agree that they would like to see Seven Peaks succeed and asked that Brinton keep in contact.

“You guys need to do your job. Know that we’re here to help. Just don’t ignore it,” said Kremke.

Brinton and the BZA agreed to a timeline schedule as the new uses were approved.

Berry said however that before paintball games can commence, the Town Council will need to make an amendment to the ordinance that bans “projectiles,” which would likely require first and second readings.

Brinton said he hopes the Council will give him permission at their meeting Tuesday to open the paintball field. He intends to be open for business as early as next Wednesday.

Officers

In other business, the BZA members held elections for 2015, keeping the same officers as last year.

Kremke will again lead as President, with Henry Husyer as Vice-President. Tammie Sufana was named board Secretary.

 

 

Posted 3/19/2015