Chesterton Tribune



BZA grants variance for fence on South 18th Street

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The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals, without much ado, granted a variance at its meeting Thursday night for a fence adjacent to an alley behind a property on 18th Street.

John Olsen, 1003-05 S. 18th St., was the petitioner. Olsen sought the variance to erect a six-foot fence one foot from the unimproved alley behind his home.

Under the Zoning Ordinance, six-foot fences may not be constructed any closer than five feet from alley right-of-ways in residential zones.

At a public hearing, no one spoke in favor of the petition and no one in opposition.

Members voted unanimously to grant the petition.

Preliminary Hearing: Bennett’s Rentals LLC

Members also voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at their next meeting, Nov. 26, on the petition of Bennett’s Rentals LLC for at least five variances needed for a proposed duplex at 124-26 N. 16th St.

Attorney Terry Hiestand told the BZA that his client wants to build a one-story duplex, rather than a two-story, because a one-story would be “less intrusive in the neighborhood” as well as more appealing to prospective senior residents who don’t want to climb stairs.

A one-story duplex, however, would have a total lot coverage of 50 percent, 20 percent more than the maximum lot coverage permitted under the Zoning Ordinance.

Other variances needed: one to build an R-2 structure in a B-3 zone; one for a front-yard setback narrower than the 30-foot setback stipulated in the Zoning Ordinance; another for a side-yard setback narrower than the 10-foot setback stipulated; and one for no sidewalks in front of all new construction.

Member Kim Goldak did wonder whether granting a variance for no sidewalk was in the best interests of the neighborhood--even though there are no existing sidewalks there now--should the town one day in the future decide to build a sidewalk on North 16th Street.

“Sometimes sidewalks are feasible and sometimes they’re not,” Member Jim Kowalski suggested. “It’s hard to look that far ahead.”

Member Joe Ackerman agreed. “Some areas lend themselves more in the future to sidewalks than other areas,” he said.

Hiestand, for his part, said that the Bennett’s in-fill project is a good one. “I think this would be a great addition to the housing stock in the town, as all the Bennett’s projects have been.”

Preliminary Hearing

Jeff and Wendy Knarian

Members also voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on the petition of Jeff and Wendy Knarian, 502 Union Court, for a variance needed to pour an additional concrete parking pad next to their home.

That pad would increase total lot coverage to 44 percent, 14 percent more than the maximum permitted under the Zoning Ordinance.

As Jeff Knarian explained to the BZA, his home is situated in the rounded “knuckle” of Union Court, which means that there’s no good place to park either their RV or visitors’ vehicles other than in front of the mailbox. But the USPS won’t deliver when the mailbox is blocked.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell indicated that, should the BZA be of a mind to grant the variance, a condition would need to be added: that the Knarians would need to install a French drain in the backyard, so that runoff from the new concrete parking pad doesn’t flow into the neighbor’s yard.

In the course of researching the petition, O’Dell also discovered that a shed of long-standing in the Knarians’ backyard encroaches on a NIPSCO easement, for which, he said, they need to secure a release from NIPSCO. Jeff Knarian said that he’s in the process of doing so.

November/December Meetings

Members opened the meeting by voting unanimously to change the schedule of their November and December meetings.

Next month, to avoid a conflict with Thanksgiving, the BZA will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Then, to avoid a conflict with Boxing Day, the BZA will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30.


Posted 10/25/2019





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