Chesterton Tribune


Spa developer attracted by Porter adoption of riverfront district designation, liquor permit

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The Porter Town Council unanimously established a riverfront development area Tuesday encompassing the former Spa banquet center, where members confirmed an experienced regional caterer is in the process of acquiring the site for redevelopment.

ďEvery long-term resident of this town has told me vehemently theyíd like to see this,Ē said council president Greg Stinson.

The once-popular Spa restaurant and reception center on Mineral Springs Road has sat vacant for about 10 years. The town has no available liquor licenses but will gain more in the designated riverfront district.

It contains about 53 acres and generally is located at the southeast quadrant of the U.S. 20 and Mineral Springs Road intersection; included is a portion of the Little Calumet River and land on which sits the Spring House Inn.

The districtís acreage currently is zoned Business-2 PUD requiring development proposals to be reviewed by the town.

Unlike Chestertonís 2009 riverfront resolution for a development project near its downtown and Coffee Creek, Porterís resolution doesnít list any required public investment.

After Tuesdayís meeting Stinson said he will propose that Porter extend a leg of its new Brickyard hike/bike trail north along Mineral Springs to The Spa and the Spring House Inn. Other town riverfront investment in partnership with the Porter Redevelopment Commission could follow, he added.

Council member David Wodrich said potential riverfront projects including The Spa would be an exciting addition to the town and an opportunity to grow the entire corridor there.

Hydrant pass-through OKíd

Voting 4-0 with member Jeannine Virtue absent, the council authorized that the cost to maintain fire hydrants for fire protection now will be paid by Indiana American Water Co. customers living in Porter, not the town itself.

Shifting the burden will free up about $113,000 annually for other uses. Council member Elka Nelson said IAWC estimates the monthly fee added to customer bills will be $4.61 although Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approval is required.

Stinson estimated it could take about 60 to 90 days for IAWC to begin collecting the new charge.

Prior to the vote former Town Council member Jon Granat said itís unfair that only IAWC customers, not all town residents, will be assessed. Granat said heís not totally opposed to paying the fee, just the way itís to be collected.

Town attorney Gregg Sobkowski said take it up with Indiana General Assembly members because they wrote the statute that dictates the town itself cannot bill residents for a hydrant maintenance fee.

Stinson noted IAWC will charge Porterís approximately 1,200 customers less than what it would have billed the town for hydrant maintenance.

Wards, trash and TIF

On unanimous votes with no discussion the council redistricted town wards for voting and representation purposes, and set 2013/2014 rates and charges for garbage pick-up reflecting a slight increase.

The council previously discussed minor adjustments to Porterís five ward boundaries and maintained the same number of districts it currently has. The changes will be effective upon legal publication; a review was mandated following certification this year of the 2010 census.

The garbage fee assessed each residential household will increase from $13.89 now to $14.24 for 2013 and $14.59 for 2014. The rates reflect increases in the townís contract with Able Disposal.

In separate votes Tuesday the Town Council and the Porter Redevelopment Commission both reaffirmed the RDCís Sept. 25 resolution and expanded the townís TIF district to include four parcels of land: the Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland and its parking lot off Waverly Road, the nearby Quick Stop and a vacant strip between the latter and the waterpark.

Future property taxes generated from new development in the TIF district can be kept by the RDC for its sole use. Utah-based Seven Peaks indicated it would spent $1.5 million to $2 million to upgrade the former Splash Down Dunes waterpark it purchased.

The RDC conducted a public hearing last night on the TIF expansion; no one commented.

On another matter, Stinson said the councilís proposed 2013-2015 CEDIT spending plan is based on Porterís share of this yearís county income-tax revenue. No individual town departments will receive CEDIT funds unless approved by the council. Earmarked are $200,000 each year for equipment and services, and $55,110 each year for economic development or a three-year combined total of $765,330.

Police chief James Spanier was granted permission to carry over his $14,070 CEDIT balance from this year.

Spanier also won approval to buy two in-stock police cars from Thomas Dodge in Highland and related vehicle equipment for a total $77,245. Money is in Spanierís budget for the purchase.

The council voted not to spend $1,430 annually for an estimated six years on life, major medical and disability insurance on Porterís new police dog Kilo. Local veterinarian Dr. Larry Reed donates excellent medical care for Porterís police dog, said Spanier; the Police budget will pay $68 a year on Kilo for straight life insurance.

Porterís previous police dog Nicky died unexpectedly earlier this year.



Posted 12/12/2012