Chesterton Tribune



Waterpark loses variance for activities; Garage approved for Porter Beach

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Last year, the Town of Porter Board of Zoning Appeals gave the managers of Seven Peaks Waterpark a list of commitments to accomplish in order for them to permit a use variance for recreational activities such as paintball game play, go-carts, ice skating, outdoor movies and an Easter Egg hunt.

The Waterpark just barely made the deadline on its commitments last year of putting in and paving a new entryway, moving the parking booth, submitting a stormwater pollution prevention plan and implementing a French drainage system on the north end.

With all that work, there was no paintball started, nor go-carts, nor fall festival, nor Easter Egg hunt.

The failure to launch any of these activities, even more so than the unmet written commitments for landscaping and paving of the parking lot, are the reason the variance is now invalid.

At Wednesday’s BZA meeting, board attorney Laura Frost said the variance becomes void if the petitioner hasn’t done anything they sought it for in 12 months of its issuance.

Since the written commitments are for the separate use variance of year-round activities and not for the variance permitting the operation of a waterpark, Seven Peaks can keep its variance for its business.

Town Director of Development and Building Commissioner Michael Barry said Seven Peaks had put up netting for the planned paintball arena but never followed through on working with the Town on getting an ordinance for projectiles. None of the landscaping or paving for the parking lot has been done which was an obligation set for the end of July this year, he said.

Waterpark for sale?

From his understanding, Barry said the Waterpark owners are trying to sell the property which would explain why they have decided not to do any more improvements.

Seven Peaks purchased the property at Wagner Rd. and U.S. 20 in 2012, formerly known as Splash Down Dunes.

BZA President John Kremke, at Frost’s advice, directed Barry to notify the Waterpark by letter that the board considers the variance expired.

Porter Beach garage

Meanwhile, the board split 4-1 on Porter Beach residents Kevin and Kristi Masten’s request to put a standalone 23’ by 30’ garage on their property when they have already the maximum limit of accessory structures with an existing garage, a cabana and a pool house.

Having bought the property last year, Kevin Masten said the garage would be big enough for two cars and some additional storage. The garage that is attached to the house is 20’ by 20’ and barely fits two vehicles, he said.

There is a buildable pad covering two lots and a garage would seem the most “innocuous” choice. “We see it as kind of a win-win for us and the area,” Masten said.

The garage will be 10.5 feet in height and will have a slope of about 8.5 feet. A retaining wall will be on the north and east sides to manage erosion.

Kremke and BZA member Bill Sexton asked Masten what his plans are for restoration and to hold the dune in place.

Read into the record for the public hearing were two letters from neighbors also concerned about dune erosion. No one else was present to speak during the public hearing.

Masten said he is willing to work within the building code as he sees it’s for his benefit as well as the neighbors.

Town Planner Jim Mandon said the variance considered would not have to be weighed on environmental impact but rather if it meets the standard requirements such as determining a hardship if the variance is not given. The owners would have to follow the Town’s building code anyway, he said.

Kremke, Sexton, and fellow members Henry Huyser and Amy Waechter-Versaw voted in favor of the variance with the condition that the exterior of the garage match that of the house and that all environmental issues be followed through on with the Town’s building ordinance.

Voting against the measure was BZA member Kenneth Timm.


Posted 8/19/2016




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