Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals members said they need a lot more
information for a June 27 public hearing on a proposed air-gun instructional
range at O’Connor Martial Arts, 534 Broadway.
James O’Connor and Brian Keating made the request during a preliminary
hearing Thursday. A use variance is needed.
O’Connor said the building’s attic would be renovated for the gun range, and
it wouldn’t share space with martial-arts classes. Keating said the range
would educate about safe use of firearms, offer air-gun competitions and be
a plinking range where participants can shoot at pop cans, bottles and
BZA member Sig Niepokoj asked whether an age limit would be imposed. Keating
said he hadn’t intended one but with parental guidance and instructor
supervision, children older than age 5 likely could participate.
Member Jim Kowalski said the petitioners need to be very explicit what types
of guns would be used, and exactly what would be done at the range. “The
board will be very, very tough about what goes on there.”
Member Fred Owens said it’s good to have indoor activities, but the men need
to submit proposed range guidelines like hours of operations, details about
supervision and whether parental consent would be required.
A main contention in the petition O’Connor submitted is that a gun range
would be ancillary to his primary business use. BZA attorney Julie Paulson
said that’s technically not the case; she also suggested he strengthen his
written arguments why a use variance should be granted.
“The more information we have about what you want, we can come up with a
better decision,” said Niepokoj.
Vote to set the public hearing was 4-0 with president Rodney Corder absent.
Two other petitions also unanimously advanced to public hearing after
preliminary hearings last night.
Thomas and Jane Biedron of 1540 Bunker Drive are seeking a setback variance
to allow construction of an addition on the north side of their home that
will be 2 feet from the property line. Thomas Biedron said he is a
paraplegic and was medically prescribed an aqua-therapy pool for badly
needed aerobic and rehabilitative exercise.
The new pool room also would encroach on a utility easement. Biedron said
he’s filed paperwork to be on the June 10 Town Council agenda seeking
permission to do so.
He noted because of his home’s roof line and the location of outside storm
drains, the north side is the only logical place to build the proposed
A revised agenda and a 4-0 vote to waive the 17-day filing rule enabled Agni
Hospitality Inc. a preliminary hearing on its request for three variances
needed to install a new sign on an existing pole at the former Super 8 motel
on Council Drive east of Indiana 49. The public hearing will take place June
Attorney Terry Hiestand said Neil Patel is redeveloping the Super 8 site as
a Quality Inn. Patel had obtained a building permit to erect the latter sign
and it was delivered to the site, but town building officials stopped work
and declared the permit invalid, according to Hiestand.
Acting building commissioner Mike Orlich later said that during a review of
the issued permit, the need for variances became evident; they deal with the
height of the sign, increasing the sign display size and having the sign
within 200 feet of another freestanding sign.
The night’s final action was voting 4-0 to continue the public hearing for
Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which seeks four variances needed to replace an
existing billboard east of Indiana 49 and north of Porter Avenue with a
slightly larger, 12-foot taller structure that would include LED digital
Shawn Pettit of Lamar said a delay is needed to do traffic studies regarding
his last month’s offer to have only the northbound Indiana 49 sign face be
LED; the southbound face closer to the Indian Boundary Road intersection
would not move.
The board agreed that because new evidence will be presented June 27, public
comment on that information will be accepted. The comment portion of the
hearing previously was closed.
This is Lamar’s second request for continuance. A scheduled public hearing
was postponed in March because only three BZA members would be present and
the vote would have to be unanimous. The public hearing took place April 25.