Chesterton Tribune



Porter planners discuss residential footage minimums low income housing

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The Porter Plan Commission met for reorganization on Wednesday night and discussed square footage limitations for construction in town.

The Commission decided that Jim Eriksson will remain President, Erik Wagner will serve as Vice-president, and Tammie Sufana will remain Secretary. Ken Timm will remain the liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The votes were unanimous.

Eriksson asked if anyone had Board comments, as there was no new business. Timm responded that he wanted to know if the Commission would follow through on addressing a problematic square footage ordinance that has been on the agenda before. “You can’t build a house on half the vacant land in town,” he said.

Eriksson explained the history of the ordinance “Some developer wanted to come put a lot of low-income housing in, so that was why we changed the square footage, but then we decided we didn’t want to discriminate or anything like that, so we brought it back down.” Eriksson clarified that “We have no problem with low-income housing, but we didn’t want it congregated all in one area.”

Timm went on to say that prospective homebuyers could build in Chesterton or Burns Harbor more easily because most of them would have to appear before the BZA and be granted variances to start construction. Per Article III, Section 27 of Porter’s Town Code, single-family dwellings must be a minimum of 1,500 square feet for a one-story, 2,000 square feet for a two-story, and 1,800 square feet for a bi- or tri-level. There are similar restrictions on multi-family units. Section 26 stipulates that single-family dwellings be built on lots that are a minimum of 12,000 square feet.

Porter resident Jennifer Klug said that a recent study seen in the Northwest Indiana Times showed that areas of low-income housing often have similar crime rates compared to subdivisions if population density is considered. “If you look at the density for some of these apartment complexes, it wasn’t that the crime rate was higher, it was just that it was a smaller area. Crime is everywhere. Drug abuse and opioid abuse is everywhere, and it’s not just people in rentals.”

Eriksson responded that another concern in the passing of the square footage ordinance was road damage from heavy traffic and emergency response. “There is a place in Chesterton very close to here that has a lot of small homes like that, condos or townhouses, over by the custard stand, but they have nice roads going in there.”

The Commission took no action on the matter Wednesday.



Posted 2/22/2018




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