Chesterton Tribune



BZA holds three preliminary hearings

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The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals held three preliminary hearings at its in-person meeting on Thursday evening.

Of particular interest: the exceedingly complicated petition submitted by BenLew Enterprises, the new owner of the property at the southeast corner of East Porter Ave. and South Calumet Road, the same property which the Town Council was formerly interested in acquiring for right-of-way as part of a proposed reconfiguration of that intersection.

That property, zoned B-2, features two structures: the house located at the corner itself, which has always been used a residence; and a commercial property immediately to the west. BenLew is interested in subdividing the property, with a Parcel A comprised of the house, which would continue to be used as a single-family residence; and a Parcel B, which would be used for unspecified--or rather vaguely specified--commercial purposes.

Brian Lewandowski of BenLew suggested that he and his partner are considering renting the commercial space on Parcel B to folks who want to store vehicles on the premises and perform light auto repairs on them. But they’re also considering installing a kitchenette and making the building a “club” of some sort for car buffs. “There’s kind of some gray areas as to use,” Lewandowski acknowledged.

In any event, by subdividing the property, BenLew would be opening a can of worms requiring six separate variances for each parcel, related to setbacks, lot size, and lot coverage.

The problem is, as Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson observed, it’s impossible at this point, prior to subdividing, to know where the new parcels’ lot lines would fall, and so it would be impossible to specify the 12 variances, calculated as they need to be on the exact location of lot lines and on the dimensions of the parcels.

Parkinson advised Lewandowski to petition the Advisory Plan Commission’s Plat Committee for a subdivision of the property, then return to the BZA. “The first thing that’s got to happen is splitting the lots,” he said.

Meanwhile, concern was expressed about the possible use Parcel B. “I need some further explanation,” Member Jim Kowalski said.

“Auto repair is the issue,” Town Engineer Mark O’Dell noted. “The concern is that it could snowball.”

Members voted unanimously to continue the preliminary hearing.

The BZA held two other preliminary hearings on Thursday, both related to lot coverage.

Peter and Karen St. Mary are seeking a variance to increase the 30-percent maximum lot coverage permitted by the Zoning Ordinance to 32 percent, to allow the construction of an enclosed sun room at the rear of their duplex at 1505-07 Washington Ave.

Ron and Jordana Zachara are seeking a variance to increase their lot coverage from 30 percent to 36 percent, to allow the construction of a swimming pool and patio in the rear of their home at 2121 Pradera Trail.

Members voted unanimously to hold public hearings on both petitions at their next meeting, June 25.


Posted 6/2/2020




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