Chesterton Tribune



Porter Plan and BZA schedule Tilden, four other public hearings July 16

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Tilden Enterprises plans to raze its long-time inventory storage building after constructing a new storage facility with office space on the six lots the company owns at 340 Lincoln St.

Doing so will require action by both the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals and the town’s Plan Commission. Paul Tilden represented the company last night.

Meeting Wednesday, the BZA set July 16 for a public hearing on reducing the required 20-foot rear-yard setback in a Business-2 zone to 4 feet 6 inches for the new structure. Vote was 4-0 with member Bill Sexton absent.

During the discussion town planner Jim Mandon said the six Tilden lots should be combined as one lot of record, or at least the four contiguous lots on which the new 42-foot by 90-foot storage facility and attached 60-foot by 56-foot office will be built. BZA president John Kremke said combining lots is a protection for both the petitioners and the town.

Tilden said the business will remain operational during construction, and adequate parking will be retained on-site once the new building is completed.

The Plan Commission met following the BZA; under other business commission president Kremke explained what had transpired at the previous meeting regarding the Tilden petition.

Kremke said the commission could suspend its rules and allow the Tilden lot-combination request to have both a preliminary hearing and public hearing in the same night. The commission voted affirmatively 6-0 with member Brenda Brueckheimer absent.

Pending timely submission of required paperwork, the hearings could take place July 16.

That date also is set for a public hearing on Cheryl Meier’s request for variances related to construction of a garage with upper-level office and an art-studio addition to the home at 2829 Lakewood Trail.

Fence, barn advance

In other BZA business last night, July 16 public hearings were set on petitions brought by Dan Paniaguas of 1040 W. Beam St. and Brian Marx of 445 Franklin St.

Paniaguas wants to join his Beam Street neighbors, several of whom previously received BZA permission to build pole barns larger than their homes. Speaking for Paniaguas, Ken Ostrander said the petitioner needs a variance to build an 80-foot by 50-foot accessory building; no setback relief would be needed.

It was determined Wednesday that at a likely height of 24 feet, a second variance to exceed the 18-foot height limit also would be required for the pole barn, where personal items will be stored. Ostrander said Paniaguas would agree to remove an existing shed on the property rather than seek a third variance for multiple accessory structures because a garage already is there.

Marx is located at the southwest corner of Hageman Avenue and Franklin Street.

Last fall he received a building permit to install a fence as security and privacy for a back-yard pool but after deciding to extend the 6-foot fence along Hageman, he learned the zoning ordinance considers it a second front yard that limits the fence height to 4 feet. The fence is partially completed now.

Building commissioner Mike Barry said Hageman has a large right-of-way so no views would be obstructed at the corner lot with the taller fence because it will be farther off the road.

Fence hearing July 16

At its meeting the Plan Commission set July 16 for a public hearing on proposed changes to the town’s fencing regulations contained in the zoning ordinance. The Town Council earlier asked the commission to start the amendment process.

Language saying fences and walls would be permitted in the front, side and rear yard in any zoning district prompted discussion. Mandon said that would go counter to the requirements for parking and landscaping in a front yard for commercial and industrial uses.

“You’ll see the fence and not the front of the building,” he said, noting that one would have to go through a gate to get to the parking area.

As proposed, front-yard fences in a residential district could be 4 feet tall and 7 feet tall in non-residential districts.

Barry said the current zoning language doesn’t say much about fences. He explained front-yard fences benefit small residential properties with virtually no back yards, especially in the downtown, where fenced front yards would provide some privacy.

Mandon said in newer subdivisions, lots are large enough to have enjoyment and privacy in the back yard where it should be so no blanket rule is needed.

Commission member Ken Timm said owners of smaller properties can ask the BZA for a variance to locate a fence in the front yard and give neighbors an opportunity to comment at a public hearing.

Commission and council member David Wodrich asked if current front-yard fences can be “grandfathered” so they could be replaced without special permission. Barry said that’s not practical because fences are considered structures and those rules apply.

It was agreed Barry and Mandon will amend the proposed ordinance as discussed and copies will be available for public inspection at least 10 days prior to the July 16 hearing.

On another matter, the commission voted unanimously to have the town attorney take over its representation in a longstanding lawsuit filed by C&C Development contesting its denial of a subdivision replat adjacent to Hunters Glen. The former town attorney asked to be replaced.

In 2010 a judge ruled the commission overstepped its jurisdiction and had no business denying the replat on the grounds it used. At one time a settlement appeared near but commission members were not aware the matter has been resolved.


Posted 6/19/2014