Chesterton Tribune



Rezoning sought for assisted living facility near hospital

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The Porter County Plan Commission at its meeting Wednesday heard of preliminary plans for a 93,000 sq. ft. assisted living and memory care facility in St. Andrews Development’s Porter Business Park next to the Porter Regional Hospital, off of U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township.

The planners approved of St. Andrews’ request 7-0 to rezone 4.4 acres from an Office and Technology zoned district to an Institutional zone on the four lots the facility will stand on. The planners’ recommendation will now move to the County Commissioners who will hear it at their next meeting on March 15.

Todd Leeth, attorney for St. Andrews, said the building is planned to be four stories tall with a residential appearance and will be called Journey Senior Living of Valparaiso.

The developers are The Argent Group LLC of Chicago with principal Blair Minton who Leeth said has been involved in the construction of over 50 other senior care centers.

A total of 100 units will make up the facility, 76 dedicated to assisted living care and 24 units to memory care, Leeth said.

“It’s the kind of building we want for this area,” he said. “This is an exciting development in the overall park.”

The entire 109-acre St. Andrews’ property was rezoned by the County five years ago and at the time was known as the Porter Medical Campus. It has since been renamed as Porter Business Park, Leeth said, located between the hospital and Tanner Trace subdivision.

Leeth said the County’s ordinance at the time did not allow for a planned unit development which is why there are four zoning districts. About 47 acres was zoned for Office and Technology (OT) in the central area and north is zoned R4 multi-family residential which was originally intended for assisted living.

The Journey Senior Living Center however is in the OT zone to be closer to the hospital. Because an assisted living facility is not one of the listed permitted uses, the parcels require a rezoning, Leeth said.

In the public hearing, one neighbor spoke in opposition saying that St. Andrews has not fulfilled the requirements of providing a buffer between the property and Tanner Trace that was one of the agreements made.

Tanner Trace resident Don Trowbridge said the new facility will mean “more lights in his backyard.

Leeth said the buffering hasn’t been done yet because there isn’t any development to buffer against. Leeth said St. Andrews’ developer Pat Kleighe said he intends to put shrubs and evergreens along the buffer zone. Kleighe told the planners he has planted trees in the first phase of the development in the south section of the property.

County Planner Robert Thompson said the second phase has not been given secondary plat approval yet.

Leeth said the request presented doesn’t pertain to building concepts or landscaping but the “big picture” of whether an assisted living facility is right for a rezoning. He anticipates variances will be need from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The planners unanimously agreed to recommend the rezoning. Absent from the meeting were members Lyndsay Ploehn and Luther Williams.


Posted 3/3/2016




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