Chesterton Tribune



Porter Planners deny request to rezone single family use property

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The Porter Plan Commission denied an application for a rezone to allow multi-family residential development in an area zoned for single-family use at its meeting Wednesday night.

Dane Jackson, of Chesterton, petitioned to rezone 6 Franklin Street from single-family residential use to multi-family residential use so he can subdivide a house at 6 Franklin Street into two apartments and construct two fourplexes on vacant parcels behind the house. Jackson said he would like to make these changes so he can offer small and affordable rental units for senior citizens. Jackson also sought approval to designate the property as a minor subdivision. A separate public hearing was held for each request.

In the public hearing on the rezone, no one spoke in favor of the request. Attorney Terry Hiestand spoke on behalf of abutting property owner Marcia Bell. Hiestand said Bell opposed the development for several reasons, one being that zoning one parcel differently is “spot zoning,” and it doesn’t fit with the character of the surrounding properties. Hiestand also noted that there was no clear plan for drainage.

Three other adjacent property owners spoke against the rezone. Trey Christenson agreed with Hiestand’s points and added that he is concerned about property values dropping and the promise that the development will stay exclusive to senior folks. Josh Pool said his main concern was increased traffic to the area. Sherrill Newman said, “There’s already a lot of illegal apartments around here and a lot of illegal rentals, and I think the Town has to get that under control first.”

Jackson responded that the number of units he has proposed won’t increase density or traffic that much more than houses with multiple occupants could. “As far as the density, you’re not gonna have that many people coming in there,” he said. “These are seniors, and most of them won’t be driving.”

Commission Member and Public Works Supervisor Brenda Brueckheimer said “My big concern is the square footage of the units you’ve proposed is 480 square feet. They look like cabins or a rowhouse. They don’t have any ambiance. They don’t match the downtown area.” She also noted that parking is cramped and the drainage has not been worked out.

Commission member Laura Madigan asked how Jackson planned to make his development exclusive to seniors. Jackson said his research shows that he can specify that only seniors can be approved to live in a complex as long as he follows certain guidelines set forth by the Fair Housing Act. Madigan asked to see his notes on that.

The Commission recommended denial of the rezone request. It will go to the Town Council for a final decision.

In the public hearing on subdivision approval, Hiestand renewed his concerns about drainage and noted that subdivision approval should involve improvements to the public right of way behind the lot on Rankin. Pool and Christenson renewed their concerns about drainage and traffic. Christenson was especially concerned with whether or not Rankin could be made into a private road with restricted use. No one spoke in support of the petition.

Barry and Mandon recognized that a drainage plan has not yet been done for the property, but Mandon said subdivision approval is more “ministerial” and not as discretionary as the rezone request. If all the requirements of the Town’s code are met, the Commission has to give subdivision approval, and it is the sole body that approves subdivisions. Mandon said everything appeared to be in order, so the Commission approved Jackson’s request for subdivision approval. Without the rezone, though, Jackson is limited to constructing single-family dwellings at 6 Franklin.

Preliminary Hearing

The Commission held a preliminary hearing where Carl Cox sought a rezone for property at 1700 Old Porter Road. Cox is doing some improvements on the property, and Building Commissioner Michael Barry suggested it be rezoned as well.

According to Barry, the zoning map from 1976 shows the property zoned for industrial use, but the zoning map from 1995 is different. “When Porter Cove was done, that whole area was zoned R1,” Barry said, and for unknown reasons, Cox’s property is also shown as being zoned residential on that map. “Since 1976 there have been businesses there, motorcycle and car repair shops nonstop,” Barry said. “It should really be industrial.”

Commission President Jim Eriksson asked Town Planner Jim Mandon for his input. “I think it was a mistake when the map was drawn,” Mandon said.

The Commission approved setting a public hearing for the rezone for 1700 Old Porter Road for its next meeting, August 15.


Posted 7/19/2018




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