Chesterton Tribune

Porter planners to developers one final year to start building

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Developers Bob Gorgei and Richard Brennan got their one-year extension to delay building Phase 1 of the 190-home, single-family subdivision known as The Trails of Porter.

But the Porter Plan Commission made it clear Wednesday it’s the last extension B&R Development is going to get. An initial one-year extension for The Trails was granted 11 months ago.

The primary plat for the subdivision, to be on land known as the Iron Triangle bounded by railroads north of Wood Street, was approved by the commission in 2009; the Town Council adopted a planned unit development ordinance in 2008 assigning special PUD zoning with the project’s general plan incorporated.

“Bob and Rich are still excited about the project,” assured attorney Greg Babcock last night. He blamed sluggish demand for new housing, unemployment and tighter restrictions on securing funding.

For Phase 1 alone, said Babcock, B&R Development has to build a new sewage lift station, widen South Mineral Springs Road and build the internal subdivision infrastructure including roads.

“You’ve got some up-front costs to get those 54 lots started,” Babcock added, estimating the pricetag would be at least $1 million.

Commission member Brenda Brueckheimer asked what will happen if the 68 acre-parcel is sold.

Commission attorney Laura Frost said the PUD ordinance remains in force and within the next year a new owner has to build based on the existing plat. But if the new extension expires without construction having started, whoever owns it --- including B&R --- has to start the platting over.

Commission president Lorain Bell said the town’s comprehensive plan needs to be reviewed every so often and “it needs to be assured this will be the final extension.” Brueckheimer’s motion to limit the extension to one final year passed 5-0 with members Jim Eriksson and Bill Cantrell absent.

In other business, the commission voted to table for one more month the original petition of Carolyn Trepper, who filed in December for a rezoning to build a duplex development along Old Porter Road west of The Trails subdivision. The commission had urged Trepper to refile her request as a PUD but it never was.

The 5-0 motion included that Trepper be notified by letter that if she isn’t present to update the commission in May, her rezoning petition will be considered withdrawn.

During both the Plan Commission and separate Board of Zoning Appeals meetings Wednesday, Frost and town planner Jim Mandon recommended both boards change their procedure regarding who gives petitioners the list of names of adjacent neighbors so they can be notified of a scheduled public hearing.

Plan Commission and BZA members both unanimously asked the Porter Town Council to allow the Clerk-treasurer’s Office to provide the list for an additional petitioner’s fee; the Porter County Assessor’s Office has provided the names in the past but Frost said it has no legal obligation to do so.

Petitioners will be responsible for using the town’s list of names to give notice of the hearing as they currently do. Porter also requires that petitioners post a sign on the property involved giving notice of the hearing date.




Posted 4/19/2012