Residents of the
Stone Meadows subdivision off 1100N were disappointed--and angry--not to
have a chance at Thursday night’s Chesterton Plan Commission meeting to
voice their concerns about a planned unit development (PUD) proposed for a
59-acre site immediately to the west of their neighborhood.
Those 59 acres are
located in currently unincorporated Liberty Township but the Town Council is
scheduled to vote on that annexation at its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 26.
The proposed PUD,
under development by PSR LLC, was the subject of a concept review on
Thursday, the first and most informal step in the PUD process. Planners are
not obligated to allow public comment on a proposed development during
concept review. Neither are they obligated to forbid public comment.
President George Stone, however--faced with a roomful of people, most of
whom were there for a public hearing scheduled later in the
meeting--declined to take comment on the PSR project.
William Stone, the developer of Stone Meadows, to accuse planners of
“suppressing public opinion.”
“I live in this
town, I pay taxes, I vote,” William Stone said. “You’re going to let someone
who doesn’t pay property taxes (in Chesterton) and who’s going to get their
land annexed have their say before I do.”
“For us it’s just
an informal discussion at this point,” George Stone replied.
And there wasn’t in
fact much discussion on the PSR project at all. Attorney Greg Babcock,
representing PSR, told planners that only 25 acres of the 59 in question are
developable, the rest of them being wetland. The PUD features 17
single-family homes, nine paired patio, and nine triplex, along with a pair
of commercial buildings 4,500 square feet each. The latter could be used for
offices, a coffee shop or cafe, spa/nails, “that sort of thing,” Babcock
When planner Tom
Kopko inquired about drainage, Babcock said that it will “drain itself
naturally, using the lay of the land, to the south.”
That was the sum
total of the discussion.
What To Know
* The Town Council
held a public hearing on the annexation at its Dec. 10 meeting, at which
William Stone remonstrated against the project as described by Babcock. In
particular, he objected to the density of the PUD, the traffic congestion
which he said would be likely caused at the intersection of 23rd Street and
1100N, and its possible impact on the property values of the larger
single-family homes in Stone Meadows.
* The Town Council
is scheduled to vote on the annexation itself at its next meeting,
Wednesday, Dec. 26. The council normally meets on the second and fourth
Mondays of the month, but this year the fourth falls on Christmas Eve.
* The annexation of
the 59 acres is an altogether separate issue from its development. Its
annexation does not guarantee that it will be developed as PSR has proposed
or that it will be developed at all anytime soon. Several different sites
annexed into the town in recent years--two large ones, for instance, on the
south side of the Indiana Toll Road--remain fallow to this day.
* If the Town
Council votes to annex the property, it will come into the town as R-1. But
PSR is proposing a planned unit development, a PUD, which is, in essence, a
set of specifications negotiated by PRS and the Plan Commission. PUDs can
feature, among other things, mixed uses, smaller lot sizes, and narrower
setbacks, all of which would be codified by applicable variances from the
* At Thursday’s
meeting, Stone Meadows residents wanted to know exactly when they will have
the opportunity to remonstrate against the proposed PUD. At this point, no
public hearing has been scheduled and no one can say when it might be. The
next step in the process will be a preliminary hearing, which could be
scheduled for the planners’ January meeting but hasn’t yet been. There is no
public-comment component in a preliminary hearing. There is, however, at the
third step in the process: the public hearing proper.
* The Plan
Commission is required by the Indiana Open Door Law to notify the public no
later than 48 hours of its next meeting. The Chesterton Plan Commission
always does so, with an agenda. The Chesterton Tribune routinely runs
an advance on that meeting with information about the agenda, and then
routinely covers that meeting in detail. When a public hearing has been
scheduled on the PSR public hearing, the Tribune will run an advance
on it, on the front page of the paper.
* The Plan
Commission is technically named the Advisory Plan Commission. That
means that planners vote to endorse or not to endorse a particular PUD
ordinance. But the Town Council is the body which formally approves or
rejects the PUD ordinance itself.