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Residents voice continued opposition to waterpark development

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By LILY REX

Residents continued to express opposition to the proposed development at the old Waterpark at last night’s Porter Town Council meeting.

Three residents spoke to reiterate their concerns about the proposed apartment complex at the northeast corner of Waverly Road and U.S. 20 and to say they were disappointed that the Plan Commission approved a rezone of the property that will further plans for development despite opposition. Last week, 18 people spoke against the rezone at a Plan Commission meeting and 10 residents wrote letters opposing it.

Weiss Entities, the developer who built Lakes of Valparaiso, has proposed an apartment complex with upscale features and amenities for the site. The $35 million development would have 318 apartments built in two-phases, with amenities including a clubhouse, an on-site dog run, a pool, and covered parking.

Karen Kenney said she knows the old waterpark is an eyesore, but she thinks apartments aren’t right for that area. “I ask that you would give thoughtful consideration for the residents of this town who pay taxes and who are raising kids here,” she said.

Tristan Kehle was concerned about increased traffic causing a safety hazard at the intersection. Kehle also said she and her son were both concerned to read that the Plan Commission approved the rezone against residents’ wishes, and the proposed apartments aren’t in line with the National Park just to the north. “If we are going to gear people to come here for a small town experience, a high rise across from a liquor store doesn’t seem to be the route to go,” Kehle said.

MaryAnn Becich said she can’t see a good future for her home just a quarter mile away from the waterpark site if a large apartment complex goes in. She said adding these apartments puts her property just a quarter mile away from more than 500 apartments, like she’s living on “the corner of rent-a-Porter.” “I think we need affordable housing, but I think we need to spread it out,” Becich said.

After those three residents spoke, Jen Klug took a moment to thank the Council for letting them speak about an issue that had already had a public hearing. Klug said she has heard of some elected officials shutting comments down after a matter has been decided on, but it’s important for officials to listen. “I think that is very important, and that’s what elected and appointed officials are for,” Klug said.

Reports

Fire Chief Jay Craig reminded folks that the Porter Fire Department’s annual Open House is Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Santa will arrive on a fire truck and some equipment will be out for display. The PFD is also collecting nonperishable food and toys for tots donations up to and through that day.

Public Works Superintendent Sarah Olson reported leaf pickup is still on, weather permitting, though the Department was slowed down by one of its machines being damaged by rocks that were put out with leaves. Luckily, no one got hurt when the rocks got in the machine, Olson said.

Council President Greg Stinson reminded residents that nothing other than leaves can be put out for leaf pickup, and cautioned residents to be careful when they rake their leaves and make sure no refuse gets added to the piles, especially dangerous objects like bottles, rocks, stones, or scrap metal. “You’re not only costing us Town money, plus slowing down our ability to do the work, you’re putting our workers at risk of serious harm,” Stinson said.

Town Attorney Greg Sobkowski reported the Town has reached a tentative agreement with former Public Works Supervisor Brenda Brueckheimer to settle her claims of wrongful termination. Brueckheimer was abruptly let go at the July 2019 public meeting.

Sobkowski said she disagrees with Bruckheimer’s allegation that she was terminated wrongfully, but it makes financial sense for the Town to settle out of court. The Town voted to settle by making a one-time payment of $5,000. The payment is not an admission of wrongdoing, per the agreement, Sobkowski said, and will be paid out of the attorney line item.

Other Business

The Council conducted a second reading of the 2020 salary ordinance and adopted it.

Stinson reminded Town employees that the Town Christmas party is Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Spa.

The Council rescheduled its second meeting in December to Dec. 30 at 5 p.m.

Apply now to serve on Porter town boards or commissions

The Town of Porter needs citizens for the following Board positions: 1 BZA presidential appointment, any party; 2 Plan Commission seats, any party; 1 Police Commission seat, Council appointment, any party; 1 Stormwater Board seat, must be Republican or Independent; 5 Redevelopment Commission seats (appointments are for only one year), 3 are Council appointments and 2 are presidential appointments. Those interested in applying for these seats should contact the Clerk-Treasurer’s office, 303 Franklin Street, Porter, (219) 926-2771.

 

Posted 11/29/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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