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Porter BZA approves variance for pool house in Baillytown subdivision

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter Town Board of Zoning Appeals approved use variances requested by Baillytown subdivision resident Jesus Quiroga to construct a 20-foot by 36-foot pool house on the east side his property at 35 Parc Aux Vaches.

The case was continued after a June 19 public hearing where some neighbors concerned with possible safety and drainage issues gave remonstrations while others supported Quiroga.

The pool house would sit about 45 feet from the roadway, which was the center of the safety debate as some residents felt it would obstruct the view of drivers turning on and off Wagner Rd.

One of the variances is for the setback from Wagner Road, while a second is for having more than two accessory structures.

Quiroga submitted more materials for findings of fact and his previous property assessments asserting that property values will increase with the variance and that the pool house would not have adverse effects on the neighborhood. He said that the trees and brush at that intersection blocking the view are more of a hazard than the pool house would be.

Originally proposed for storing materials, the structure would be used primarily to entertain friends and family.

The board had suggested the structure be located on the west side of the property as a possible solution, since the grade is lower than on the east side.

Opponents address safety

Neighbor Deana Lecy addressed the board with a memo collectively speaking for Baillytown residents objecting to the pool house being “so close” to Wagner Rd., saying sight limitations remain a concern, as well as access to the existing septic.

Speaking in favor of relocating the structure to the property’s west side, Lecy’s memo mentioned comments from two licensed land surveyors, a licensed engineer, and a licensed architect who concluded that the pool house could be built on the west side with proper grading and would not require a use variance.

A current topography gives indication of a swell on the property’s west side guiding drainage toward Parc Aux Vaches, where it could offset unforeseen impacts to surrounding properties, the memo said.

Lecy asked the board to deny the variance request, saying Quiroga in his finding of facts did not thoroughly look at the alternative suggested by the board.

Meanwhile, Thomas McKain spoke against the appearance of the construction materials currently stored at the pool area -- “It you go by it, it looks pretty rough,” and said that an influx of drainage on one of his lots over the last two years has uprooted a number of trees, which could be in part due to Quiroga’s pool. Quiroga said the source could be the nearby VFW post which had its pond filled about that time.

Town planner Jim Mandon said that swimming pools are captive of drainage but the surrounding driveways and sidewalks could have an impact. With that, Mandon said that Quiroga’s building coverage for the lot does not exceed the 35 percent maximum and the 50 percent maximum for hard surface coverage.

Supporting comments

Supporters of the pool house also had a robust line-up. First, BZA president John Kempler read into the record a letter from Hope Stobbe saying she is 100 percent behind the effort and does not see any issues with the pool house sitting back from Wagner Rd. Stobbe’s letter said she has more serious concerns about the excessive speeds that motorists travel at that intersection and advocated better enforcement of the speed limit and removal of trees and brush to eliminate blind spots.

Stobbe alleged that other neighbors have not been faithful in following the covenants of the subdivision and does not think it fair that there are some, like the Quirogas, who are “put under the covenant microscope” while others are not.

Stobbe’s husband David Stobbe, who was in attendance, echoed his spouse’s comments and said that as an engineer himself “it looks okay to me.”

JoAnne Davilla said her parents had lived next to the Quirogas and they were “wonderful neighbors.”

“Everything they are doing has not affected us in any way whatsoever,” Davilla said. “They are not trying to hurt anybody or do wrong.”

One of the neighbors objecting to the pool house, Megan Erminger, was given the chance to clarify that the opposition from the neighbors was “not a personal attack” and the reason for it was the desire to preserve the character of the neighborhood. She said she would continue to challenge petitions in the future that would “add stuff.”

“The reason we moved to Baillytown was to preserve the woods and nature of it,” Erminger said.

Vote

In accepting the new information Quiroga submitted, BZA member Ken Timm moved to approve the variances, which were supported by Kremke, Bill Stronks and Bill Sexton.

Sexton said he was not happy with the construction materials lying on the property but Mandon said that issue does not concern the variance.

Mandon had also mentioned that the trees were in the right of way on town property, not Quiroga’s.

Beam Street Variance

Meanwhile, the board also approved another use variance for a residential property at 1240 West Beam St., petitioned by Ken Holevinski, who intends to renovate and market the home in a non-residential area. Holevinski said the house was built before the property was later rezoned.

Plan Commission

The Town Plan Commission convened for a short meeting following the BZA where it unanimously approved recommending a surety bond of $57,482 for the Mineral Springs Road subdivision to the town council.

 

Posted 7/19/2013