Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Plan Commission endorses 12-percent increase in park impact fee

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The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission has endorsed a proposed increase in the park impact fee paid by builders and developers of new residential units.

The current park impact fee: $889. The proposed new fee: $994, a 12-percent bump.

At their meeting Thursday night, planners voted unanimously to forward the proposed new fee, along with a Recreation Zone Improvement Plan 2019-28, to the Town Council with their favorable recommendation.

Revenues from the fee--paid per new residential unit--are used exclusively for the development of new recreational infrastructure serving new residential growth.

Chuck Lehman of Lehman & Lehman Inc., a landscape architecture firm based in Mishawaka, told planners that a complete inventory was taken of the town’s recreational assets--park acreage, number of ballfields and playgrounds, miles of trail--and then that inventory compared to population growth over the last five years.

Under state law, park impact fee ordinances automatically expire in five years--the town’s will in February--and must be renewed by ordinance.

Lehman’s finding: $1.3 million in future recreational needs have been identified: multi-use fields, basketball courts, shelters, restrooms, playgrounds, a splash pad, trails, and open space. And the proposed increase in the park impact fee would be needed to fund those needs, Lehman said.

He noted that the average park impact fee for comparable municipalities in Northwest Indiana is $1,315, so even with the increase the $994 proposed fee would come in at the low end.

At a public hearing before the vote, no one spoke in favor of the proposed fee hike and no one in opposition to it.

The Town Council is scheduled to consider the proposed fee hike at its meeting tonight.

Preliminary Hearing

In other business, planners voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at their next meeting, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, on a petition from the Villages of Sand Creek Home Owners Association.

Specifically, the HOA wants to amend the planned unit development ordinance to use $40,000 held for year in escrow to build sidewalks to expand instead a children’s play area located just north of Sawgrass Drive and east of Ballenisle Court.

In June, the HOA’s attorney, Clay Patton, told planners that for various reasons the sidewalks were never built and at this point--given the fact that they were meant to be routed behind residents’ homes--the sidewalks would probably irk a lot of folks interested in their privacy.

Trees at Eagle Crossing

Meanwhile, planners referred to staff a proposed commitment by the developers of the Eagle Crossing apartment complex to maintain, and to repair any damage caused by, honey locust trees which they want to plant in the parkway along Kelle Drive and Sidewalk Road.

Typically, trees planted in the parkway--the grassy right-of-way located between the street and the sidewalk--are considered “public street trees” and are maintained by the town.

Under the proposed commitment, however, the developers would absolve the town of any responsibility for the honey locusts and both maintain them and repair any damage which they might cause, for instance, by their roots.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell did express a note of caution. Although honey locusts are a species permitted by the town’s tree ordinance, they are “large” trees which may not be suitable for a parkway.


Posted 9/23/2019




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