The Porter Plan
Commission will hold a public hearing at its meeting Wednesday, July 17 to
gather input on proposed changes to minimum square footage guidelines
outlined in Town code.
Town Planner Jim
Mandon and Building Commissioner Michael Barry have worked together to
recommend new minimum square footage requirements for the Town of Porter,
since the current guidelines make building difficult and, as Mandon says,
more house doesn’t always equal better quality.
Mandon has also
said the Town should consider changing its Code when the Board of Zoning
Appeals is so often hearing, and granting, requests for variances on minimum
floor area. The BZA has had several such requests in the past year, and the
issue has come up at several Plan Commission meetings in the last year.
Per Porter Town
Code last updated in 2003, a single-family home on land zoned R-1
(single-family residential, large lot) must be a minimum of 1,500 square
feet for a one-story, 2,000 square feet for a two-story, and 1,800 square
feet for a bi or tri-level. There are similar restrictions on multi-family
units and for each zoning type.
Barry has proposed
changing the requirements to allow houses as small as 1,200 square feet in
R-1 zones, which he says matches the character of much of the existing
development in Town, since smaller homes were allowed prior to 2003.
Under Barry’s plan,
a one-story in R-1 would have to be at least 1,200 square feet. Two-story
homes would have to be at least 1,600 square feet, and bi and tri-levels
would have to be at least 1,400 square feet. On lots zoned R-2
(single-family residential, small lot) and in R-3 and R-4 multi-family
zonings, Barry proposed the smallest allowable units should be 1,000 square
feet, down from 1,200.
Barry and Mandon
first proposed changing the ordinance in April. Barry’s reasoning: to make
it easier for people to build on the remaining lots in Town. Barry said he
often gets calls from people wanting to build houses 1,200 or 1,300 square
feet, and they’re often turned off when they find out they’d have to get a
variance from the BZA.
The public can
weigh in on the proposed changes at the Plan Commission’s next meeting at
the Town Hall, on Wednesday July 17 at 5:30 p.m.
After the public
hearing, the Planners will vote to make a recommendation to the Town
Council, who must give final approval for changes to Town Code.
In addition to
setting that public hearing, the Board approved a minor subdivision on
Waverly Road and conducted a preliminary hearing on the Summer Tree PUD at
its last meeting.
approved Dean and Margaret Hultman’s request to subdivide their five-acre
property at 808 Waverly Road into three lots for single-family homes. The
property is zoned R-1. Lot 1 will be 1.21 acres, Lot 2 will be 1.01 acres,
and Lot 3 will be 2.48 acres.
Babcock said the
new lots will be served by private sewer lines the Hultman’s will have
installed and connected to the Town’s sewers with a low-pressure pump. Lots
1 and 2 will share a driveway, and a driveway maintenance agreement will be
recorded with the Plat so future owners know their obligations.
The lots are
already served by utilities, and Babcock said no public improvements are
required. He only asked that the Board waive the maximum depth requirement
for the third lot, where the lot depth is planned to be 327 feet, though
Town code allows for a maximum of 300 feet.
Two members of the
public had concerns about the proposal in a public hearing. First was Diane
Mrak, who wondered if development on the new subdivision would increase
traffic, how it could affect drainage in the surrounding neighborhood, and
how many trees would be torn out. Laura Schroeder similarly said she was
worried about her property value if the Hultman’s cut down all the trees on
their property, which is heavily wooded.
Babcock said on
rebuttal that a few single-family houses won’t significantly increase
traffic and that the site plan and private sewer placement were well-thought
out to reduce the chance of causing drainage issues. He also assured that
having well-established trees improves resale value, so as many trees as
possible would be kept on the property.
Mandon reported all
Department heads had reviewed and approved of the plats. Barry said the Town
did a lot of negotiating to make sure the plan had little impact on the
neighborhood. He said the Hultman’s were especially considerate about
drainage and the placement of the driveway. “They’ve been very cognizant of
how this impacts those around them,” Barry said. “In other subdivisions,
there’s a lot of impact to the neighbors. I don’t think this is going to
have much impact other than there will be a few more houses on it.”
The Board opted to
approve both the primary and secondary plats for the subdivision, including
waiving maximum lot depth for the third lot, on the condition that the
driveway maintenance agreement be on file with the Town.
In the preliminary
hearing, Matt Keiser, on behalf of Fox Chase Development, petitioned to
amend the planned unit development (PUD) to rezone the land on the north
side of the entrance to the Summer Tree development at the corner of U.S. 20
and Waverly Road from commercial to residential.
Keiser said the
developer has had trouble selling the large swath of commercial property,
and wants to subdivide that lot into five parcels: four will be homes, and
one will stay commercial.
An amended PUD will
be presented and the Board will hold a public hearing on the matter at the