Chesterton Tribune



Porter planners favor reorganizing use variances in Town Code

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The Porter Plan Commission voted unanimously to make a favorable recommendation to the Town Council on a reorganization of allowed uses within Town Code.

Town Planner Jim Mandon, Building Commissioner Michael Barry, and Plan Commission Attorney Laura Frost have been working on a new zoning ordinance. There used to be a stand alone list of ‘allowed uses’ in Town Code that applied to all property in Town, but Mandon and Barry worked to sort all of the allowed uses into appropriate zones. The changes have been in the works since August 2018.

The changes clarify what type of development is allowed in what zones, meaning people seeking to use land in Porter won’t need a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals unless they have unique requests, such as wanting to use a property in a way that doesn’t align with the parcel’s zoning. Some uses, such as churches, will be allowed in more than one zoning type.

Mandon previously 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 stand alone list created exactly the kind of confusion that results in a lot of use variances being sought or granted, according to Mandon and Barry.

Without the list, the Porter BZA will decide on variances based solely on whether or not requests meet all of the five criteria set forth in Indiana Law, which are: approval will not adversely affect 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.

No one spoke against the proposed changes in a public hearing Wednesday night. Porter resident Jennifer Klug said she was for it.

Planner Jim Eriksson asked if Mandon and Barry could provide the Board with an updated zoning map of Porter. Barry said the map is on the Town of Porter website, and he updates it quarterly.

The Planners voted to forward the new ordinance to the Town Council with a favorable recommendation. Final approval rests with the Council.

In other business, the Planners reorganized, electing Laura Madigan as President and David Phillips as Vice-president. They also reappointed Tammie Sufana as their secretary and appointed Eriksson to be the Plan Commission representative on the BZA.


Posted 1/17/2020




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