Richard Neal has
formally withdrawn his petition before the Chesterton Board of Zoning
Appeals seeking three variances to construct four storage buildings on his
property at 100 Brown Ave.
But he’s going to
put the buildings up anyway.
At Thursday night’s
meeting of the BZA, Secretary Gail Murawski read into the record a letter
dated April 12 and written by Neal’s attorney, Greg Babcock, notifying the
board of his client’s decision to withdraw his petition.
Instead, Neal now
plans to establish an office on site in the principal structure on the
property. That office “will have the same characteristics as found in the
other six storage companies” in Chesterton, that is, will have “signage,
phone number, and drop box,” Babcock stated.
Putting an office
on site at 100 Brown Ave. obviates the need for the crucial variance--the
one to permit the construction of four additional principal
structures on the property--because under the Zoning Ordinance those four
buildings would now be considered permissible accessory structures in
no need of a variance.
In addition, Neal
has tweaked his design of the two front storage buildings, eliminating three
units from each and in doing so eliminating the need as well for a second
variance, the one to reduce the minimum frontyard setback. And he’s reduced
the width of the southwest storage building, thereby precluding the need for
a third variance, the one to reduce the minimum sideyard setback.
Babcock stated in
his letter that Neal has also eliminated from his design the first two units
on the northwest storage building. “That will give the customers the ability
to travel south along the west side and have 34 feet of width as they exit
east toward the existing drive,” Babcock noted.
“The board should
note that there is an existing six-foot fence along lots 4 and 5 of Pere
Marquette Cottages between their rear yards and the proposed building on the
northwest corner,” Babcock added. “Additionally, there is a heavy tree line
along the north and east of Lot 3 in said subdivision which does have a
screening ability. Finally, the southwest building will have its doors
facing to the east and therefore the area from the edge of the building west
will still remain a grassy area. Lastly, Mr. Neal intends to do some
landscaping along the entire front of the property in the future.”
At a public hearing
at the board’s March meeting, neighbors remonstrated against Neal’s
petition, voicing concerns about traffic, drainage, and other issues. That
public hearing was continued to Thursday’s meeting but in the meantime Neal
opted to withdraw his petition.
Apartment at The
In other business,
members voted unanimously to grant to B & B Developers Inc. a variance which
will permit the continued residential use of a 40’ x 35’ unit on the second
story of the west end of The Factory, 1050 Broadway.
Bill Bennett has
recently taken ownership of The Factory, his attorney, Terry Hiestand, told
the board, and during a recent inspection discovered that the unit in
question, being used as an apartment, would need a variance.
“It looks like a
coach-house that was an add-on at The Factory,” Member Kim Goldak noted.
As near as Bennett
can figure, the unit was formerly used as a storage space by the owner of a
tavern on the first floor beneath it. At some point the tavern owner appears
to have added a restroom and a kitchen so that he could stay overnight at
the end of the business day. The current tenant on the first floor, beneath
the unit, is Bootcamp Fitness Center.
“It makes sense to
use the space this way,” Hiestand suggested, adding that it’s “very
compatible with what’s being done there” and has caused “no interferences
with other uses” at The Factory.
Goldak had no
problems with the petition and said that it reminds her of the groundfloor
storefronts in her neighborhood growing up in Chicago, most of which were
put to residential use upstairs.
granted the petition, with the single condition that there be no expansion
of residential use at The Factory.
At a public hearing
which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the petition and no one
property was the subject of a second public hearing, this one his storage
business at 175 E. U.S. Highway 20, where he was seeking a use variance to
convert a building into climate-controlled storage, for which there exists
no listed use in the Zoning Ordinance.
Hiestand told the
board that the lease form used by Bennett specifically forbids the storage
of a number of specific items: firearms, paints and solvents, other
chemicals or flammable substances, propane tanks, jewelry, antiques, drugs,
and any other item with a value in excess of $5,000.
And because Bennett
plans to divide the interior into 10’ x 10’ units, there would be no bulk
storage in the building either, Hiestand noted.
“There’s a demand
for this kind of storage,” Hiestand said. “Essentially it’s a cut above
Goldak was curious
about that demand: “What would you store in climate-controlled?” she asked.
“Things affected by
heat and cold,” Hiestand replied.”
Like what? Goldak
“The majority of it
is furniture,” Bennett said. And items which might be subject to mold if
kept outside in barn storage. “Some people are willing to pay more for
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell told the board that Fire Chief John Jarka has inspected the property
and reviewed the terms of Bennett’s standard lease form and is okay with
unanimously to approve the petition. At a public hearing prior to the vote,
no one spoke in favor of the petition and no one in opposition.
Secretary Murawski informed the board that a third public hearing on
Thursday’s agenda was made moot by virtue of the fact that Brad Joyce, of
1651 Hogan Ave., has withdrawn his petition for a variance to reduce the
sideyard setback from the minimum of 10 feet to six feet.
interested in expanding his two-car garage into a three-car garage but cited
opposition from his neighbor in his decision to withdraw the petition.
voted unanimously to continue to their May meeting the petition of Robert
Johnson for two variances which would permit the construction of a sunroom
at his home at 401 Louisa Lane.
Johnson was not in
attendance. Should the petitioner not appear at the board’s May meeting,
members will be obliged to dismiss the case altogether.