Chesterton Tribune



Town of Porter BZA to recommend changes for minimum home sizes

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The Porter Board of Zoning Appeals will send a letter to the Town’s Plan Commission asking it to consider lowering its minimum requirements for one-story homes in residential districts.

During a public hearing Wednesday for Linda and Virgil Littlejohn’s request for a development standards variance to build a ranch home at 1,329 sq. ft., Town Building Commissioner Michael Barry said that people looking to build in town have gone elsewhere because of the current minimum of 1,500 sq. ft.

In the past five years that Barry has been working for the Town, he said about 40 to 50 people have requested to build a smaller house. The Littlejohns are the first to file a request for variance, he said.

“We have had to tell people they have to build somewhere else,” Barry said. “Other than the subdivisions approved for smaller homes, everybody leaves. They don’t even try this. Instead of having nice homes with nice people, we just have a few empty lots scattered around that are difficult to build on.”

Town Planner Jim Mandon said that years ago when the minimum was put in place, the plan commission figured that a larger home would be a higher value. However, that’s not always the case, Mandon said.

“It can be counterproductive if it is too large of a structure,” said Mandon.

BZA members said they agreed with Mandon’s points. “Bigger doesn’t always mean better,” member Bill Sexton said.

Kenneth Timm, who said he was on the Plan Commission when this was decided, said “there are a lot of people who don’t need to have a 1,500 square foot house.”

Sexton said he would give a letter to the Plan Commission requesting them to reevaluate the minimum.

The BZA voted 4-0 to grant the variance for the Littlejohns who wish to build a ranch-style home at 326 S. 23rd Street, in Johnson and Kreiger subdivision. Mandon said the request had met the first two conditions of a variance, to provide safety and welfare to the homeowner and also to not have any adverse effects on neighboring properties. The third condition of whether a hardship would be presented if the variance wasn’t granted is more difficult to meet in this case.

Barry said the homes in that subdivision are smaller homes. Mandon said because of the character of homes in the area, he believes that would satisfy the condition.

Absent from the meeting Wednesday was BZA member Henry Huyser.



Posted 2/16/2017




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