Chesterton Tribune



Porter Plan Commission sets public hearing for Waterpark rezone

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The Porter Plan Commission voted Wednesday to hold a public hearing on a proposed rezone of the old Waterpark property at the northeast corner of Waverly Road and U.S. Hwy 20.

Wednesday, the Board heard plans for a luxury apartment complex, designed by the same company that built Lakes of Valparaiso, Weiss Entities. The first step in finalizing a planned unit development (PUD) for the complex and having the PUD approved is rezoning the property from B-3, general business, to R-4, multi-family residential.

Richard Anderson, attorney for Weiss, said the $35 million development will have 318 high-end apartments built in two phases. The development will have amenities including a clubhouse, an on-site dog run, a pool, and 249 covered parking spaces made possible by the first floor of the largest building serving as a garage.

The first phase would consist of a large L-shaped building with the Clubhouse and attached apartments, three smaller apartment buildings, a sports court and dog run, parking, and three detention areas--one dry bed and two ponds. Phase two would add two more buildings with parking and a dry bed detention area.

Board member Tara Duffie said she appreciates the focus on planting 100 percent native species. Town Planner Jim Mandon said the development has a “tremendous amount” of planned open space, and the plans minimize the footprint of the rooflines and asphalt parking areas. The Board had questions about parking, traffic, and drainage, however.

Duffie noted that Town Code calls for a parking ratio of 2-to-1 for apartment complexes in R-4, which would mean the proposed development should have 636 parking spaces. Weiss has only planned 570. Weiss Entities Vice-president of Design and Development Bob Billick said the company does parking at a 1.79-to-1 ratio based on its own data after building Lakes of Valparaiso. The Lakes, he said, ended up with too much parking in spite of the fact that residents there “can’t go anywhere without a car.”

Billick said they don’t experience overcrowding with this ratio, and added that nobody wants extra impervious surfaces, especially in a development like the one proposed. “We’re trying to make this a nature-friendly development, so we’re trying to get the exact number of asphalt spaces. We think it’s the safe conservative number,” Billick said.

Board member, and Porter Police Chief, Jamie Spanier noted he was still concerned about the issue he brought up at a recent Technical Advisory Committee meeting: he hopes the proposed road cut onto U.S. 20 is far enough from the light to prevent backed-up traffic. Backed-up traffic at that intersection caused many accidents in the past, before INDOT approved the light to be on an extended timer. When the timer was changed, Police saw a reduction in accidents there from one every eight days to an average of only a couple each year, according to Spanier.

Billick said INDOT has been involved in the planning of the development at every stage and has thus far not raised any concerns about the U.S. 20 road cut. Mandon also noted a traffic study will be done before any road cuts are made.

Planner David Phillips asked what will stop water from a planned detention pond in the northwest corner of the property from overflowing into the properties to the north since drainage there has been an issue for years. Billick said Weiss is hoping they’re development will actually help or solve the problems.

Billick said there’s a small existing pond in that corners of the property that will be dug out and made 400 or 500 percent larger. The plan, Billick said, is for that pond to keep all the water along the north end of the property on the property and additionally allow water from the properties to the north to drain south into the pond.

Building Commissioner Michael Barry said the drainage issues at the north end of the Waterpark stem from old underground drainage tiles. He said the old tiles won’t be removed under Weiss’ plan, but digging out the pond should mitigate their effects.

If the rezone is approved, Anderson said Weiss will seek three variances for the property. One will be for the reduction in parking ratio, and another to allow the tallest building to be 56 feet where maximum height in Town Code is 50 feet. The final variance would be reducing rear setback.

The Plan Commission voted unanimously to consider the rezone at its November meeting. They will then make a recommendation to the Town Council, which has the final say on rezoning requests.

In other business, the Plan Commission approved a site plan for a new maintenance building at Pinkerton Oil on U.S. 20 behind the existing station. The new building will be a pole barn-type structure used for changing truck tires and oil. There will be parking for as many as 20 semis at once, as well as straight trucks and cars. The building will be accessed with the existing driveway off U.S. 20.

Mandon noted the site is naturally screened by trees, so there’s no visual impact to nearby property owners. The building also won’t be visible from U.S. 20.



Posted 10/21/2019






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