Chesterton Tribune



Porter planners approve third replat of Summer Tree PUD

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The Porter Plan Commission approved a third replat of the Summer Tree Planned Unit Development (PUD) at its meeting last week.

Attorney Todd Leeth, representing owner Fox Chase Development, said the Summer Tree PUD, a mixed use commercial/residential development at the northwest corner of Waverly Road and U.S. 20 was approved in 1995. Since then, it has had two amendments: one to change home styles in the residential portions of the development in 2002 and one to subdivide six commercial lots into nine residential lots for 18 homes in 2016.

Leeth’s request Wednesday night was in the same vein as the 2016 request. Fox Chase plans to subdivide its largest commercial lot, the 1.55-acre lot fronting U.S. 20, to mark a strip of the northern part of the lot for residential use. The split will leave a .75-acre commercial lot with frontage on U.S. 20.

Leeth submitted the replat, a development plan to guide the construction of eight new homes on the four proposed new lots, and a supplemental agreement with the homeowner’s association at Summer Tree. Fox Chase will make a per-lot capital contribution to the HOA’s reserve fund, pay for some concrete work on residential driveways, and merge the new homes into the existing HOA, per the supplemental agreement.

Building Commissioner Michael Barry asked whether or not right-of-way for Tower Lane would be dedicated to the Town as part of the replat. Leeth said the plan was to dedicate the half of Tower Lane that Fox Chase owns to the Town. A private business currently owns the other half.

Barry said half the road is not sufficient for a dedication of right-of-way, in part because a Town of Porter road must be 30 feet wide. Leeth said the right-of-way dedication could be revisited after Fox Chase approaches the private owner and he agreed to provide documentation clarifying who maintains Tower Lane in the meantime.

No one spoke for or against the replat in a public hearing. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Town Council, who has the final say, approve the replat on the condition that the developer provides documentation clarifying how Tower Lane will be maintained if right-of-way is not dedicated to the Town.

Use Variances

The Board also continued a discussion of changing the way use variances are described in Town Code. The Code currently has a standalone, outdated, and incomplete list of ‘allowed uses’ that applies to all property in Town.

Mandon said granting lots of use variances isn’t ideal because it essentially rezones properties one at a time and can allow development to run counter to a Town’s comprehensive plan. However, the standalone list in Porter code creates exactly the kind of confusion that results in a lot of use variances being sought or granted, according to Mandon and Barry.

Mandon presented proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance that place all the allowed uses in corresponding appropriate zones and recommended doing away with the standalone list. The changes will clarify what type of development is allowed in what zones and means people seeking to use land in Porter won’t need a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals unless they have unique requests.

Without the list, the Porter BZA would decide on allowing use variances solely based on whether or not requests meet all of the five criteria set forth in Indiana Law, which are: approval will not adversely effect public safety, health, morals or the community; the use will not diminish the value of nearby property; the need for the variance arises from a condition unique to the property; abiding by the governing zoning ordinance would represent a hardship for the petitioner; and approval aligns with the applicable comprehensive plan.

Board member Tara Duffie was apprehensive about doing away with the list because the five state criteria are more discretionary, and the list is “more solid.” Mandon said, “I just think we shouldn’t place restrictions on the BZA further than what the state requires. I think the BZA is wise enough to look at those five conditions and decide.” The Board voted to direct Attorney Laura Frost to draft a new zoning ordinance for consideration at the Board’s next meeting. At the next meeting, the Board will decide whether or not to set the proposed changes for public hearing.


Posted 8/29/2019




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