Chesterton Tribune



Town planners seek to raise the park impact fee

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The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission is looking to raise the park impact fee, paid by builders and developers of new residential units on the issuance of a building permit.

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

The proceeds from park impact fees are used exclusively “to fund the capital costs of new park and recreational infrastructure necessary to serve newly developing areas of the town,” according to a proposed five-year ordinance on which the Plan Commission voted unanimously last week to hold a public hearing at its next meeting, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. That ordinance would re-establish the park impact fee fund, which expires early next year.

After the meeting, Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson told the Chesterton Tribune that the proposed new fee of $994 is comparable to, and in some case less than, fees set by other municipalities in Northwest Indiana. Portage’s: $986. Valparaiso’s: $1,288. Schererville’s: $2,172.

The proposed ordinance provides for the following, among other things:

--Requires builders and developers to pay the per-unit fee upon the issuance of a building permit, unless the total fee upon calculation is greater than $5,000, in which case the applicant may request an installment plan.

--Grants applicants the right to appeal the fee, if they believe the calculation to be incorrect, not later than 30 days after the issuance of the building permit.

--Establishes an Impact Fee Review Board, comprised of three members: a real estate broker licensed in Indiana; an engineer licensed in Indiana; and a certified public accountant.

--And re-establishes the Park and Recreation Impact Fee Fund.

Front Lot Lines

In other business at last week’s meeting, members voted unanimously to endorse an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, changing the definition of “front lot line.”

The current definition: “Any lot line which is a street line except that, in the case of a corner lot, the front line is the shorter of the two intersecting lines.”

The proposed new definition: “Any lot line which is a street line except that, in the case of a corner lot, the front lot line shall be the street line which the front of the principal structure, including a main entrance or front door, faces.”

The point of the amendment, Parkinson told planners: previous building commissioners have “commonly”--but incorrectly--interpreted the current definition to mean that “the front lot line is where the address fronts, but that’s not what the current ordinance says.”

Building Commissioner Mark O’Dell “has made the recommendation based on the common understanding of what we’ve always thought of as front lot lines,” Parkinson said, adding that the new definition will bring into compliance numerous corner homes in town which are currently non-conforming due to previous building commissioners’ misinterpretation of the old definition.

Following a public hearing on the proposed new definition--at which no one spoke in favor of the amendment and no one in opposition--O’Dell noted that folks building a new home on a corner lot “have the right to choose which street the house will front,” except in cases where the parcel is peculiarly platted.

“Basically, this is a good idea,” planner Jim Kowalski said.

The new definition will now be forwarded to the Town Council for final action.




Posted 8/20/2019




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