Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Urschel Phase 1 advances to Town Council; Phase 2 still a blank slate

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By PAULENE POPARAD

As anticipated, the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission forwarded a favorable recommendation to the Town Council related to the relocation of Urschel Laboratories Inc. from Valparaiso to Coffee Creek Center.

Two persons spoke in favor of the project during a public hearing Thursday; none of the approximately 20 people attending remonstrated but five persons did ask whether Urschel's acquisition of the 157 acres would block access, now or in the future, on Gateway Boulevard, County Road 200E or an extended Dickinson Road.

The commissions favorable recommendation dealt with requested amendments to the existing development plan for Coffee Creek Centers third addition.

That plan always provided for light manufacturing, but certain variances and a description of uses intended specifically for Urschel need town approval. The company specializes in the design, manufacture and sale of precision commercial food cutting and milling equipment.

Commission president George Stone emphasized Urschel is currently seeking approvals only for the southern 71 acres of its parcel.

A 350,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, ancillary uses, accessory buildings and corporate offices will be built. The remaining land, generally north of an extended Gateway Boulevard, has no development plans at this time.

The commissions favorable recommendation was forwarded on a 6-0 vote with member Jeff Ton absent.

A second unanimous motion Thursday waived the 17-day filing deadline and set a public hearing June 20 on a preliminary plat detailing specific locations of uses for the 71 acres located east of Lakeshore Bone & Joint; secondary plat approval also may be sought next month.

Urschel representatives previously expressed hope for a mid-summer groundbreaking on the 18-month project.

After Thursdays meeting, Urschel director of real estate Bill Baker said in addition to town approvals, closing on the property has to take place. As far as actual construction taking place this year, "Im confident yet not presumptuous."

Speaking in support of Urschel during last nights public hearing was Katie Rizer, executive director of the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Inc. "Were very excited to have Urschel join the Coffee Creek family."

Rizer outlined and presented a letter from Janet Ryan, president of the Conservancy.

In it Ryan said, "While there are questions that remain regarding storm water management and landscape design, support for the relocation of Urschel Laboratories to Coffee Creek Center was very strong among our members."

The Conservancy serves as stewards of the 151-acre nature preserve at the heart of the 640-acre Coffee Creek Center, continued Ryan, and she urged elected officials to continue to support and encourage that developments first manufacturing facility. Heather Ennis, executive director of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, told commission members Coffee Creek Center is an excellent location for Urschel's project, which will spur development within Coffee Creek and along the Indiana Toll Road corridor bringing jobs to the area.

Ennis also said Urschel is a quality company and the chamber is enthusiastic to see it do great things in our community.

From the audience, Steve Bushore inquired if theres any stipulation on the Urschel sale related to an extension of Dickinson Road south. Baker said Urschel only is concentrating on the southern portion of its tract as Phase 1; an extended Dickinson would come from the northern portion not yet being platted.

Stone said a Dickinson extension is part of the towns long-range plan and will be dealt with when Phase 2 is addressed. He noted Urschel's planned extension of Gateway Boulevard east with a bridge over Coffee Creek will end in a large cul-de-sac sized for a future connection to Dickinson.

Maura Pape of County Road 200E south of the Toll Road asked how Urschel construction will impact the homeowners who use 200E. Baker said their use wont be impeded to his knowledge. Commission and Town Council member Jeff Trout said trucks will use 200E during Urschel's construction, but the road will get enhanced when the project is done.

Vic Roberts asked if Gateway and 200E will remain public thoroughfares. He was told 200E will, but the new portion of Gateway built east of the cul-de-sac will become a private road for Urschel's use.

It also was stated the manufacturing/corporate campus will connect to Indiana American Water, possibly running the line down 200E from the north.

Trout noted right now Urschel's Phase 2 is a blank sheet of paper, but its possible in the future when its platted that a new east/west public road north of Phase 1 could be built.

Commission member Fred Owens asked about a variance sought by Urschel that would allow free-standing flags, each having a maximum gross surface area of 120 square feet and a maximum height of 25 feet, to be placed at the entrance roadway and parking lot.

Baker said Urschel serves an international market and when customers from other countries visit company headquarters, their respective flags are flown.

Other variances deal with allowing taller buildings as well as with parking spaces, signage, and setbacks.

Commission attorney Charles Parkinson clarified that the recommendation being forwarded to the Town Council is in the form of an ordinance for final adoption by that board.

 

Posted 5/17/2013