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.
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.
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.
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 The Code currently has a standalone, outdated, and incomplete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.
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.
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
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
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.