By PAULENE POPARAD
Thatís what Chesterton
Board of Zoning Appeals members said they want to hear when the Bross Family
returns Aug. 28 seeking a use variance to operate an open-air market in a
fenced, paved parking lot at the southeast corner of East Morgan Avenue and
South Calumet Road.
It will be the fourth
meeting at which the variance is discussed.
Meeting Thursday, the BZA
continued the petition after hearing concerns voiced by two nearby building
owners during a public hearing. No one spoke in support of the variance.
Bross attorney Terry
Hiestand and Eric Bross said an open air market is the only logical use for
the site because of subsurface drainage structures under a large portion of
the lot preventing it from being used for other purposes. They maintained
the proposed market has only positives and doesnít have any negatives.
Dennis Byron, who owns
properties north of the parking lot and David Baum, who owns/has an interest
in parcels west of it, both said they donít want to remonstrate but fear
private parking lots for other businesses in the area could become clogged
with market patrons if itís approved.
Byron also said, ďIím not
too sure about a large garage sale across from me.Ē Parking in the area is
limited now, he stressed, and questioned whether the use variance would be
limited to Bross ownership or it would carry with the land.
Baum said if done right the
market could be an asset to the area, but to say it will have no adverse
effect on neighbors isnít the case.
Hiestand said businesses
could erect signs restricting parking to their own patrons. He repeatedly
cited the European Market at Broadway and Third Street as a successful
Saturday street market and said cars park for blocks along town streets
BZA member Thomas Browne
said the Brosses have had two months to provide specific details but
havenít. ďItís very open ended at this point,Ē he said, asking for a
business plan. ďItís could be this or could be that, might be this or might
Hiestand replied, ďThis is
not a McDonaldís franchise. There is no pattern for this.Ē
Assured Bross, ďThis
wonít be a wild rodeo flea market not managed and maintained,Ē adding that
if he sees or hears of anything inappropriate, a vendor will be asked to
leave. The family indicated a number of items will be prohibited by
management including illegal, hazardous, guns, ammunition, tobacco,
livestock, small animals, birds and reptiles.
Bross was less firm about
the hours and days of operation, and exactly where and how many vendors
could be set up on the site. Bross said he anticipated vendor stations might
be tents, tables or pick-up truck beds. Addressing Baumís concern about
structures being left up overnight, Bross said that wonít happen.
Hiestand pointed to
retail merchandise thatís left outside at ACE Hardware and custom golf carts
displayed outdoors at LanCam, both immediately south of the Bross lot.
Bross emphasized that how
the market should operate will evolve as vendors and patrons demonstrate
whatís feasible and desired but it will be safe, organized and monitored by
a security camera.
Hiestand said itís
impossible to predict what the Bross market will attract but the merchandise
likely will be similar to whatís available in several retail stores already
Browne and BZA member Sig
Niepokoj questioned whether the parking lot truly is unsuitable for a use
already allowed in its Business-1 zoning district. Hiestand said an open-air
market isnít specifically prohibited, itís just not an itemized B-1 use.
Town engineer Mark OíDell
said the lot is over 20,000 square feet and heís never been shown a drawing
that proves it would be unsuitable for B-1 development so it appears to have
ample space. He indicated there are 41 allowable B-1 businesses that donít
require a use variance for the site.
Bross said it is their
belief the market is the only option they have, adding that the drainage
system must be protected because it prevents ponding water on the lotís
south side at a former telephone building they own thatís now used for
Hiestand repeated the
arguments he made in May and June that the Brosses have to generate income
off the lot to pay its $3,932 property taxes this year based on a $243,100
assessed value. He also emphasized an open-air market is a neighborhood
social event as well as a commercial one that stimulates the local economy
and takes place in many other region communities including Valparaiso and
BZA members Jim Kowalski
and Fred Owens were absent Thursday. If the members present had voted on the
petition, it would have had to be unanimous for official action to occur.
Legal petitioners seeking
the use variance are Elaine Bross, Steven Bross, Nancy Bross and Carolyn