Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton BZA grants two variances to Chesterton BZA President Rich Riley

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The president of the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals has been granted two variances by the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals.

At their meeting Tuesday night, members Joe Ackerman, Fred Owens, Kim Goldak, and Jim Kowalski voted unanimously to grant the two variances to President Rich Riley, who was seeking one to exceed by 8 percent the maximum rear-yard lot coverage allowed by Town Code for the purpose of building a garage on his property at 218 Grant Ave.; and another to permit the continued residential use of that property, which is zoned B-2.

In fact the case was a routine one. Riley presented his petition from the floor, after handing the gavel to Vice-president Goldak. The only real sticking point: the 200 block of Grant Ave., despite its B-2 zoning, has been in continuous residential use for more than a century, the house on Riley’s property having been built in 1906. That makes it a legally non-conforming use, which means that in order to obtain the first variance--the one permitting additional rear-yard lot coverage--he also needed to obtain the second, permitting, in essence, the residence to remain a residence.

As Riley put it in his petition, “This lot is bordered on three sides by residential single-family houses. The entire north side of Grant Ave. is currently residential and has been used residentially since 1906. This lot is improved with a remodeled single-family residence. The actual ‘use’ of this property will not change, as it has always been a residential use as have the surrounding properties to the north, east, and west.”

“What is ‘peculiar’ to the subject property is the fact that although the entire north side of Grant Ave. from Third Street west to Fifth Street is zoned B-2 Business, it is apparent from the age of the houses that it has always been residential,” Riley added. “The B-2 Business District zoning regulations impose restrictions that are not relevant to residential uses and inhibit further improvements of a residential nature.”

The garage itself will be a two-car job, and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the board that both its design and its siting on the property are in compliance with Town Code. “Most, if not all, of the adjacent and neighboring residences have a garage,” Riley noted.

At a public hearing which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of Riley’s petition and no one spoke in opposition to it. Meanwhile, in response to queries from Goldak, Secretary Gail Murawski confirmed that Riley’s paperwork was in order and Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson that there were no legal issues with his petition.


In other business, members--with the gavel in Riley’s hand--voted unanimously to grant a variance to Erik and Erica Weiler permitting them to build a six-foot privacy fence in their yard at 1055 Birch Trail in the Duneland Trails subdivision.

Under Town Code, the maximum height of any fence built along a public right-of-way--as the Weilers’ fence would be, along C.R. 50E (South Fifth Street)--is four feet.

Erik Weiler told the board that they want the taller fence for privacy and for the protection of their children and their children’s friends. “We get a lot of vehicle, bike, and pedestrian traffic on those sidewalks and roads,” he said.

“We also want to keep out the wild and stray animals that come out of the woods along C.R. 50E,” Weiler added.

At a public hearing which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the petition and no one in opposition to it.

Goldak had one question only: would it be possible to erect a green vinyl fence, more in keeping with the trees and vegetation along C.R. 50E?

Weiler said that subdivision covenants mandate a white vinyl fence only.

BenLew Enterprises LLC

Meanwhile, at a scheduled preliminary hearing earlier in the meeting, no one representing BenLew Enterprises LLC was in attendance to present its petition for a variance to allow residential use on the third floor of a building in a B-2 district.

The building in question is located at 442 N. Calumet Road.

According to the petition, the building’s third floor is already subdivided into apartments.

Should no one appear at the BZA’s next meeting, the case will be removed from the board’s agenda and BenLew Enterprises would need to re-file the petition and pay another filing fee.


Posted 11/21/2018




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