February 27, 2017 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes
|Ken Schneider, President||David Austgen, Town Attorney|
|Paul Panczuk||Rick Eberly, Building & Planning Director|
CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Schneider called to order the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals for February 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., and asked all to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance (recited and all took their seats).
Roll call was taken by Michelle L. Haluska, recording secretary. Members present: Ken Schneider, Tom Ryan, Paul Panczuk, John Kennedy and Jason Williams. Staff present: Mr. David Austgen, Town Attorney and Mr. Rick Eberly, Building & Planning Director.
Mr. Schneider advised that the minutes from September 28, 2015; February 22, 2016; March 28, 2016; November 28, 2016 and January 23, 2017 before the board for approval. Mr. Williams advised that he had not received these minutes and wanted time to go through some of them.
Mr. Schneider entertained a motion from the Board to approve the minutes from September 28, 2015. Motion carried 3 ayes – 2 abstentions.
Mr. Schneider noted that Mr. Williams advised that he has not had a chance to review these minutes for the February 22, 2016; March 28, 2016 and November 28, 2016 meeting minutes, and last month’s meeting of January 23, 2017. Mr. Schneider entertained a motion to defer the minutes until next month so that all the members have had the chance to review these.
Mr. Austgen requested that it be made in a motion so that it can go on the record as such. Mr. Panczuk made a motion to defer the aforementioned minutes. Motion seconded by Mr. Williams. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
NEW / OLD BUSINESS:
A. SUNCREST CHRISTIAN CHURCH – Variance for Reduction in Parking Space Size (Petitioner: Mr. Ryan Marovich of DVG / Land Technologies)
Mr. Schneider advised that the first order of business is Suncrest Christian Church for reduction of parking size from 10’ x 20’ to 9’ x 20’, and asked the Petitioner to step to the podium and state your name for the record.
Mr. Ryan Marovich of DVG / Land Technologies introduced himself, and advised that he is here tonight representing Suncrest Christian Church. Mr. Marovich advised that Suncrest is asking for a variance from the standard parking size from 20’ x 10’ to 20’ x 9’. They are adding a building addition on the Northwest face of the building, and a parking addition near the East side of the existing parking lot. Mr. Marovich noted that the current parking space sizes in the existing parking lot are 9’ x 20’, so they are merely asking for a variance to match those parking spaces that currently exist. Mr. Marovich stated this way they will line up and are uniform with the existing parking spaces.
Mr. Schneider inquired if the petitioner knew why the existing spaces are 9’ x 20’. Mr. Marovich advised that he discovered this during his research and discovered their sizes and reviewed the ordinance, and as such does not know if this pre-dates a previous ordinance.
Mr. Eberly wanted to state for the record that the petitioner has met all the conditions of conducting the Public Hearing and all documents are proper and in order.
Mr. Williams asked Mr. Schneider as to the language in the “findings of fact” for this petition. Mr. Eberly gave a Findings of Fact outline for Mr. Williams review the three (3) criteria for the variance. Mr. Eberly reminded Mr. Williams that it is the Petitioner’s responsibility to convince you that their request meets those criteria.
Mr. Williams read the criteria and commented that he has been attending Suncrest Church for the last six weeks and stated in his personal opinion that those lots are extremely narrow, and felt with the type of vehicles that are being driven today that they make an unsafe situation. Mr. Williams asked if they (Suncrest Christian Church) has looked into re-painting the existing lot to slanted parking spaces that would allow for the same number of parking spaces and make the 10’ x 20’ standard.
Mr. Marovich advised that for the sake of cost that they have not looked at painting that; and that maybe at some future date, when they look at resurfacing the parking lot that may be a consideration. At this time it is requested to seek the variance and get as much parking as possible.
Mr. Williams stated that for the board members information that the church expansion is going to add an additional 250 seats to the main worship center. Mr. Williams then asked how many parking spots are being added in total. Mr. Marovich advised it is forty-seven (47).
Mr. Eberly commented that he spoke with Ryan Marovich at the staff level, and advised that if they were to have angled parking from 30˚-53˚ angled parking, they are allowed to have to 9’ x 20’ sized spaces.
Mr. Schneider asked if with the addition to the main facility, is it under, over or equal to the requirement for parking spaces. Mr. Eberly advised that they calculated that they are under-parked at this time, only by today’s standard. Mr. Eberly then stated that the forty-seven (47) spaces in and of themselves will bring the church closer to meeting today’s standards.
He further advised that he cannot speak to when the church was built or whether a variance was granted at that time for not.
Mr. Williams stated that he is not saying “no”, he just thinks they need to look at alternatives and see if there are possibilities.
Mr. Eberly referred to the ordinances in regards to the number of spaces in relation to the length of pews, which is usually the formulation. Mr. Eberly advised that it is one (1) for every two (2) seats or four feet (4’) of pews in the main worship room. Mr. Marovich advised that they are individual seats in the main worship area, such as with this meeting room here.
Mr. Kennedy inquired how many parking spaces would you lose if they just went with the 10’ x 20’. Mr. Panczuk calculated it to be approximately five (5). Mr. Marovich stated that is correct since they are abutting next to the existing row, which would then be a staggered layout.
Mr. Panczuk commented that with the bullet points that he does not see how having 10’ x 20’ parking spaces makes the property difficult to use and felt there is a safety factor with the tight spaces.
With no further questions from the board, Mr. Schneider opened the floor to Public Comment and reminded them to step to the podium and stated your name and address for the record.
Joe Hero (11723 S. Oakridge Drive): I think if you look at that three conditions, you ask yourself about safety and welfare. Have you had any incidents with the existing situation. I think you have to weigh that, um,., I don’t think any of the adjacent property owners are affected. And uh, I think the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance is going to present a hardship on the church. I, uh, a lot of the situations when you deal with a church, they have, in my opinion, more rights than a normal situation. I think you should consider granting them their variance and maybe put a condition on it. That will allow them to grow their church more, give more money and it will force an expansion. And, when they come in for the expansion, then you can consider re-striping and doing the rest. But if you look up there now, there’s a lot of cars on the sides and it looks like in the grass or something. But I think you should give them the exception and give them the variance, because I don’t think the three conditions to prohibit them are met. Thank you.
Tim Wolf (8229 Meadow Court): I’ve been a member of Suncrest for seventeen years. And to my knowledge we have never had an accident, and to my knowledge never had a complaint about the size of the parking spaces. So, in that reference I believe that they should,., you should allow the 9’ spaces. Thank you.
With no further public comment, Mr. Schneider closed the floor and brought the matter back to the board.
Mr. Williams reiterated that he would like to see a different proposal, or see them just use 10’ x 20’ spots.
Mr. Kennedy stated that he understands that the addition is contiguous to the existing lot. I understand that the 10’ x 20’ is a very nice parking sport, but it is not unusual to have a 9’ x 20’ in other communities. So this alignment makes sense to continue the 9’ x 20’. My issue is, as you continue to grow, there’s going to be that contingency where you might have to come back, and we’re going to have to continue the 9’ x 20’. Mr. Kennedy said it was nice to hear on the public comment. I am not a parishioner at that church to hear that the last so-many years it has not been an issue, so that put me at ease a little bit. Right now it makes logical sense to me to approve the variance at this time.
Mr. Schneider asked Mr. Ryan if he had any comment. Mr. Ryan advised no. With no further comment Mr. Schneider entertained a motion to approve, deny or defer the request from Suncrest Christian Church to reduce the parking space size from 10’ x 20’ to 9’ x 20’ and please include the Findings of Facts into the motion.
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve the variance to reduce the size of parking from 10’ x 20’ to 9’ x 20’ based on the findings of facts. Seconded by Mr. Schneider. Motion denied 3 nays – 2 ayes.
Mr. Austgen addressed the Chairman, advising that particular motion was defeated. There is no action yet, so you need another motion regarding some action.
Mr. Williams made a motion to defer this matter to the next Board of Zoning Appeals meeting on March 27, 2017; to look at a different configuration of existing and new parking. Motion seconded by Mr. Panczuk. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
Mr. Eberly advised Mr. Marovich to consult with his client to decide if they wish to come back next month.
B. SUBLIME HOMES – Variance from Side Yard Setback (Petitioner: Mike Graniczy)
Mr. Schneider advised the next agenda item is Sublime Homes with a request for a side yard variance. The petitioner was called to the podium.
Mr. Eberly advised the Chairman that all legal notifications are in order and proper form for the petitioner to proceed. Mr. Eberly also commented that this is an unusual situation in that this subdivision is zoned R-2, however, the lots are equal to or greater than R-1 zoning standards. Normally an R-2 requires only an 8’ side yard setback, but this subdivision requires a 10’ side yard setback. Mr. Eberly advised that is the reason he is here tonight, and the request concerns the West side of the lot and he is requesting to reduce the setback from 10’ to 8’. There is a second matter in that he has recently learned that St. John’s setbacks are measured to the “eaves” or the projection of the home and not to the foundation. Mr. Eberly advised that is how the Zoning Ordinance is written. One of the reasons for the variance request is a side-load garage, which requires additional room for the turning radius. Mr. Eberly wanted the Board to be aware that the variance is needed because of the “plat” and not because of the zoning of the property.
Mr. Mike Graniczy of Sublime Homes introduced himself to the board. Mr. Graniczy directed the board’s attention to the site plan as placed on the meeting room screen. Mr. Graniczy pointed to the setback locations and the side load garage, noting that it is 12’ to the property line. He noted that it is 12’ on one side and 8’ on the other.
Mr. Kennedy inquired if he has built other homes in this subdivision and have you asked for variances on those previous homes. Mr. Graniczy advised that he has built several homes, but has only asked for a variance on this one. Mr. Graniczy advised that then they found the side yard difference from the R-1 / R-2, he then approached the Homeowners Association back in March of last year and has received written approval from that board. He is now just taking it to the next step to get approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Mr. Kennedy asked about the square footage of the home. Mr. Graniczy advised it is 4,700 square feet of living space.
Mr. Graniczy asked if the board was given the HOA approval letter that he submitted to the staff through e-mail. Mr. Eberly advised that he does not have it in the file. Mr. Graniczy asked Mr. Schneider if he could vouch for the approval letter from the HOA, since he was a member of the HOA. Mr. Schneider advised that he was on that HOA board and they did vote and grant the variance, at least through the HOA for the two feet. [from audience: who voted on it?]. Mr. Schneider advised that the HOA members did. Mr. Williams stated that HOA does not apply to Town Code. Mr. Eberly advised that is correct, and that is not needed to render your decision.
With no further questions from the board, Mr. Schneider opened the floor to public comment.
Jeff Kost (9400 West 90th Lane): I have a brief statement to read please. After reviewing the details regarding the variance that’s been requested for the planned construction at 9375 West 90th Lane, my wife and I have concluded that this variance will directly and negatively affect our quality of life as residents of Willow Ridge, Phase Two. The restriction of a ten-foot side setback was purposely written into the plan of Phase Two, with the intention of providing all of its residents with the benefit of generously spaced lots, with attractive site lines. Since the builder has built other houses in the subdivision in the last twelve months, it is highly unlikely that he was unaware of the 10’ side yard setback. If the builder was not aware of the restrictions, the design was for this property was flawed from the start. If however the builder was aware of the 10’ restriction, it indicates that the builder intentionally designed a house that was too big for the lot at 9375. Regardless, it is unreasonable for the builder to expect “us” to agree to variance, which is not in our best interest. Some controversies have developed over liberties taken by the builder, with two recently completed houses built on lots in Phase Two. Unfortunately, the fallout from Sublime’s actions is unlikely to be resolved. Therefore, for the good of the current residents and I the interests of the value, appearance and character of the neighborhood, the builder should now follow the standards set for all of the homeowners. Which brings us back to the two foot variance and how it will affect us personally. The variance will reduce and limit the view of a pond, which is a common area. We and other homeowners on our side of 90th Lane contribute to its insurance and upkeep costs. But unlike the homeowners directly sided on the pond, we are denied access and use. Despite this fact, we much continue to pay for this common area. All because it is considered an esthetic, from which we benefit from virtue of its view. In addition, the utility boxes that are between the properties in this variance. If this variance is allowed. Our view of this common area, for which we will pay a yearly fee, and rightfully expect to benefit, will be substantially reduced, if not completely eliminated. The ten foot side setback was included to protect all of our homes values. Consequently allowing the variance will negatively effect home values on the North side of 90th Lane, but causing their overall appeal to be somewhat less when compared to other homes in Phase Two. We believe that asking for this variance is unnecessary and unfair. It should be incumbent on the builder to enhance the appearance and character of our neighborhood, and to build a house that fits this generously sized 100’ wide lot. We deserve to have the elements of the original 2004 plat of survey respected and preserved. So in the interest of maintaining the appearance of Willow Ridge, as well as for our continued good-will among its neighbors, we oppose this variance and ask the Board to reject it. Thank you for allowing me this time, and if the board would like a copy of this,., my statement I will be happy to provide to them.
Mr. Austgen advised the board that they should accept it, and make it part of the record.
Steve Blessing (representing Guy and Denise Blessing of 9345 West 90th Lane): Unfortunately, Guy was out of the country on business this evening, so he asked me to step in and address any questions that you might have had on the detailed document that he submitted to Board, earlier last week, outlining some of his concerns related to the variance proposed next to his property. In summary, and I thought that was an excellent presentation by the way; but, in summary the primary objection that we have relates to the fact that the variance as it is requested does not meet all the requirements documented in the current development zoning ordinance. Specifically, as noted in the document that Guy presented, in Chapter 18 Section B Subsection C, quote: “ the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property. That is simply not the case here, as pointed out, there are a lot of homeowners in this room that have built properties,., homes on those property sizes, all across the subdivision. Knowing full well that the ten-foot setback was in place. They are beautiful homes. There is absolutely no contingency there why you would have to build a bigger home for that lot. There’s also a concern, I think that is an open-ended question, as we did the research related to the side-load garage that runs adjacent to his property. That the drop-off that really doesn’t show in this plat of survey, but the drop off going into the lake is significant. So that, that is actually retaining wall required for that, is most likely going to require footings that are attached to the home. And if you look at, I believe it is um,., “Exhibit H” of his document, there is a reference to what an attachment is in the zoning. I couldn’t find it in St. John’s documentation, but isn’t an attachment, footing tied to the home considered an attachment. If so, the setback would revert back to ten feet and not the three feet that they are proposing. At any rate, in terms of the valuation side of the equation, you know, in Subsection B, which could adversely affect the value of the property. Obviously when you’re three feet off of the property line and your four feet up in the air, in terms of the retaining wall, snow removal, drainage, all becomes a major issue for that property.
So there are some open-ended questions there, but I believe the bottom line is, Subsection C of the ordinance kind of flatly states that, you know, find a home that’s gonna fit on the lot, unless you can’t do that, then we’ll provide the variance. That’s why the variance objection is in place. So, that being said, I think, those are our objections to it and if you have any questions, I hope everyone had a chance to review the documentation. If you have questions I am open to take them.
Mr. Austgen suggested that Mr. Schneider make the remonstrance made by Mr. and Mrs. Blessing part of the record, that it seems to be a logical time for it in terms of sequence. Mr. Schneider stated yes, that the Board received a remonstrance from Guy and Denise Blessing. Basically stating a bunch of facts that even surprised some of us on some side yard setbacks, and brought up many other concerns. Some there, are part of the Board’s duty to address tonight, and others are, I think, need further examination. It depends on how this variance goes in regards to this retaining wall and some things like that. I think that elevations and things like that are beyond this board’s responsibilities, but it probably should be looked at. Otherwise, I would like to take Guy and Denise Blessing’s remonstrance and make it part of the record of the meeting.
Mr. Austgen requested that the Recording Secretary incorporate verbatim the remonstrance made.
Joan Mcinerney (9405 West 90th Lane): So, I am to the West side of this property. When I moved into Willow Ridge a year and a half ago, I moved in because of the way the neighborhood looked. Lots of spacing between the homes and very esthetically pleasing. I invested in this neighborhood because of what it looks like. And to have a house, you know, coming closer to me than the variance, is disconcerting and I think it degrades the value of home as you have heard other residents talk about. I think that the builder is well aware of what the allowances are in the subdivision. And, they need to find a house that fits appropriately on that lot. So this is not the first issue that we have had with Sublime, and wanting to do various variances within the other variances within the subdivision. So, um, I think we have rules and guidelines within the subdivision to keep it looking nice and that is what I think is appropriate in this case.
Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive): I have been a resident over forty years in St. John. We have always, to my knowledge, had the ten foot side yard restriction. If you, the guy on the right has got ten, the guy on the left has got ten, that’s twenty. If you grant one variance, then you have to treat everybody else the same. So you lose four feet of space between houses. That is something I’m sure the developers would love, can then they can reduce the size of their lots. I disagree with our talented building and planning guy. Just because other communities choose to allow houses to be closer together, that is not a reason to change our ordinance that’s been that way, for my knowledge, forty years. What it does is it creates a wider side lot. And if you look,., you don’t know which way the eaves are gonna go. If, if there’s drainage or overflow in the gutters, there’s less land to absorb any rain water. So, if you set a precedent, you will set a precedent for every person in this town that wants to cut the side lots. You cannot let one guy ruin the ordinance for this while town. You have to have backbone and stand behind out ordinance.
It’s there for a purpose to spread the houses apart further, to allow more drainage and a better quality of life. I think the items for the variance would not be met. It affects the health, safety and welfare of the community. It affects everybody’s property value in the community. Because once you set a precedent for one guy, you gotta treat everybody the same. And that will destroy the character of this whole community and upset everybody’s property values in this community. This is not about one guy. This is about all the houses in St. John. Thank you very much, I ask you to reject and deny the variance for the three specified reasons can’t be met.
Mark Trivunovic (9430 West 90th Lane): A little bit across the street from where the lot we’re talking about. And I agree with what the gentleman said right before me said, perfectly. If I could reiterate everything he said I would. But no need for it, you have heard it all. So, basically I would also implore you all to reject it, because there is a lot of reasons that have been set forth before me, so I’ll leave it at that and hope you guys vote in the right direction.
David Lessentine (9470 West 90th Lane): I am opposed to it. Same issue, I live in the subdivision, I was one of the first people to in there. It’s kinda getting ridiculous with what’s going on. I mean he has already been allowed to put a house on an angle, which shouldn’t had been allowed by anyone. It didn’t look good. It doesn’t look appealing. I bought this lot because of the size of the lot. I want to enjoy my lot. I want to enjoy the view. And that’s it, thanks.
Mr. Eberly advised he appreciates Mr. Hero’s comments, because it made me think about the way I said and what I said; and I am certainly not opposed to the ten-foot side yard setbacks. I think it makes more sense to measure to the “foundation”, so if you want to keep that ten-foot distance, then let’s make the side yard setbacks twelve feet (12’), so that the overhangs. So, that it is ten-foot from the overhangs to the property line. Mr. Eberly clarified that this would be a more consistent way to measure is to the foundation, so if we need to make an adjustment in what the side yard setbacks are in order to maintain at least a ten-foot setback, from whatever projection of the home to the property line, no problem with that. St. John has had this standard when I was here in 1989, so I can tell you that 28 years ago that was the standard. St. John has always been known as a large lot community. That has always been it character, and I have no problem with that distance, I just think it is more consistent to measure to the foundation and I would like to find a way to do that.
Mr. Kennedy had a question concerning one of the public comments in regards to side yards. Mr. Kennedy was looking at an aerial view on his tablet and it appeared that there were some houses that were closer together than the overall subdivision development. Discussion ensued as to spacing and specific widths of the lots in the area.
[Discussion ensued amongst the audience members – and Mr. Schneider advised that it was not open to public discussion].
Mr. Panczuk stated that he did not know if it is relevant in this case; however, if you look at Indiana Code 36-7-4-928.5, line three, the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties and the use of the property “the one that the petitioner has”, this is our measuring stick, and I don’t know if we should be using other properties as a measuring stick, just as the legal definition of what we are supposed to be doing, and that’s not part of it.
Steve Blessing (again): Just want to add one additional point, and Paul, I fully support that, I think that was really the base justification of the document that my brother wrote in regards to the variance. The other piece of note I think it was brought up earlier in the meeting, in terms of uniformity, and I think that has been a common denominator. A lot of the commentary is that everybody has been uniform in that subdivision. And including, in this document, our plans for this home had to be re-drawn because of the eaves issue. So, we actually at our own cost, had to go back and re-draw the plans to push that setback, back to ten feet. So, when we talk about uniformity, and I’m not in disagreement, believe me that maybe you should rethink the way that’s done in the future. But, for this particular setback issue, and for this particular subdivision, everything is already built. And all we are really all we are looking for is uniformity coming out of it.
Mr. Schneider made it official that the public comment portion of the agenda item is closed, and asked the petitioner to come back to the podium.
Mr. Graniczy pointed out to the board that the side with the twelve-foot side yard setback, no matter what happens, that meets the requirements, so we are just talking about the side with the eight-foot.
Mr. Williams asked Mr. Eberly if he found anything in regards to the retaining wall. Mr. Eberly responded that Mr. Graniczy does not show a dimension there for a retaining wall. The retaining wall is part of the driveway and that has to be at least 3’ off of that property line to the East. Mr. Eberly advised that he would be held to that standard minimum to the retaining wall. Mr. Graniczy advised that would only be a landscape wall, landscaper built.
Mr. Graniczy further stated that it may not be necessary to even have a retaining wall as there are other side load garages on the water. The one home is a couple of houses West of this being proposed. Mr. Graniczy also commented that as far as home values, that the price on this one is one million dollars, so I don’t see a factor of it hurting anyone’s home value.
Mr. Schneider entertained a motion a motion to approve, deny or defer the side yard setback variance requested by Sublime Homes, and please incorporate the findings of facts. Mr. Eberly clarified that due to the one-foot eave, this would be for a seven-foot setback if you were to approve it.
Mr. Ryan mad a motion to deny the variance request at 9375 West 90th Lane, referencing the findings of facts into the motion, and note that the conditions to grant the variance were not met. Motion seconded by Mr. Panczuk. Motion to deny passed 4 ayes – 1 nay (K. Schneider).
C. ALSIP NURSERY (10255 Wicker Avenue) Developmental / Technical Variances for Greenhouse Addition (Mr. Rich Christakes)
Mr. Schneider advised the next item is Alsip Nursery for a Greenhouse Addition, and called the Petitioner to the podium and directed him to please state your name and address for the record.
Mr. Rich Christakes, Co-Owner of Alsip Home and Nursery, 14967 West 145th Avenue, Cedar Lake, Indiana. The business address is 10255 Wicker Avenue in St. John, Indiana.
Mr. Eberly addressed the Chairman and advised that all items are in order for this petitioner to proceed with the public hearing.
Mr. Eberly advised that there are a number of variances before you to consider.
Mr. Christakes advised that they are here for the third time and he is aware that they have discussed the two issues with the Greenhouse Addition that is the same look, style and manufacturer of the existing greenhouses. Mr. Eberly was asked to place that rendition on the meeting room screen.
Mr. Austgen asked Chairman Schneider if there is a list of exactly what has been applied for. Mr. Eberly advised that a summary has been prepared for the Board and is distributed.
Mr. Christakes advised they would start with the Landscape Supply Center, since that was already being shown on the screen. Mr. Christakes advised that this is the proposed landscape supply center; a pole-barn style building which is 40’ x 88’. At the initial meeting we had it at across the drive that is on the North side of the property. There is an existing ‘check-out”, we call it the bulk shed landscape supply, it is literally like a green shed that you would purchase at Menards.
Mr. Christakes advised that they are looking to upgrade to a nicer building with a Design and Sales Office, along with some storage area. The variance that we are seeking is to do this because of the zoning that we are in currently. To meet the requirements we have moved it to a location that is behind an 8’ tall PVC fence with extensive landscaping. We have also prepared a lighting plan, as requested by the BZA at an earlier meeting.
Mr. Christakes advised they have some with specific options as proposed to last month when they threw approximately eight options out to the Board members.
Mr. Christakes advised that they are now proposing a brick veneer on the West facing side and a wainscot on the South facing side of this building. Mr. Christakes advised that this is meeting the recommendations from the BZA at the January meeting.
Mr. Panczuk asked on which side the propane tank is located. Mr. Christakes advised that is on the West side of the building, and is existing currently. Mr. Christakes pointed point to the members for clarification that the locations on the development plat has not changed.
Mr. Eberly advised that it would be a good time to focus on this building because there are six (6) variance requests in front of you. Mr. Eberly stated that Item 1 does not apply to this building, as this building meets the minimum three materials that are required, and Item 1 will only apply to the greenhouses. Mr. Eberly further advised that the remainder of the variances apply to the entire property.
Mr. Schneider asked about Item 4 regarding the frontage road setback. Mr. Eberly advised that although it was advertised for this petition, that that only applies to principal buildings and therefore does not have to be considered at all for this petition as what they are proposing are “accessory buildings”.
Mr. Christakes advised that he might defer to Mr. Travis Mayham, also with Alsip Nursery, as he prepared all of the images. Mr. Schneider questioned the area above the first roof-line on the West side of the structure for the material. Mr. Christakes advised that is siding. Mr. Eberly advised that is why there is a variance request in order to meet the requirement in the Overlay District that it should be entirely brick, and it was discussed at the previous meeting about some relief of that requirement.
General discussion ensued in regards to several proposals that were submitted at the prior meeting. Mr. Panczuk commented that he believed that was the problem previously with the Petitioner submitting too many options that ended as being a convoluted mess, and now he is presenting the one (1) layout as requested. Mr. Williams agreed.
Mr. Panczuk asked about the siding material that is shown. Mr. Christakes advised that it is tin. Mr. Panczuk advised that he did recall that he prefers that the West and South of this structure being brick.
Mr. Williams inquired as to the issue with providing access to individual tracts. Mr. Eberly advised that any property owner, when developing property is supposed to provide access from their parcel to an adjacent parcel. Mr. Eberly reminded them that Earl Drive to the point of their property is a private drive, in order to extend that to the South would have to go right through their building. Mr. Eberly pointed out that Earl Drive is a connecting component to numerous properties and business to the North.
General discussion ensued about the previous meeting in regards to all brick or partial brick. Mr. Eberly pointed out that as members of the Board of Zoning Appeals; you have the ability to attach conditions to any approval that you may grant. If you choose to grant this variance, you can make a condition upon a certain percentage of brick, or wainscoting of brick across the front, which is your decision to apply that condition.
Mr. Schneider commented that he would prefer to see brick on the West and South portion that would be the office, and then wainscoting to three to four feet between the bay doors. Mr. Eberly asked that if that is the direction that the board desires that they are specific in their conditions, as it will need to be reflected before issuing a building permit.
With no further questions from the board, Mr. Schneider opened the floor to public comment. Mr. Schneider reminded the audience that they must come to the podium, state your name, and address clearly for the record.
Eric Schneider (9190 West 106th): I am here on behalf of myself and also due to the fact that I am the Town Liaison for the St. John Chamber of Commerce. The fact that I have been sitting there thinking, and I can’t really think of too many other businesses in the Town of St. John that generates more tax revenue for everything in this Town, from areas outside of this town. I mean obviously Strack’s does a great job, Aldi does a great job, but most of that is “in town” business. Where Alsip draws from everywhere in Northwest Indiana and in Illinois. The fact that you guys are nitpicking and Jason, I understand that you are right, this isn’t Lake Central. But at the same time, you set a precedent with Lake Central by allowing them to have a variance. And to do what they wanted with an ugly pole barn building. So, why are you going to nitpick a business that is actually making money for the town, to support infrastructure and everything else, then nothing else is going to do. These are the things that need to be taken into consideration when you guys are looking at these variances, and what has to be taken. I understand we want to keep a,., keep it looking nice. There is nothing that Alsip has ever done that is,., half-way done. And you guys aren’t going to allow it. So,.,., busting his chops over,., brick fifteen feet in the air which is obviously a safety concern because you would basically have to build the whole exterior wall out of brick and then build on to that. And then basically make it an addition and almost two separate buildings to do it safely. It’s just not cost effective, nor does it need to be. It’s set off the road so far back. It might as well be in the industrial complex, which is where you guys are allowing for a lot less brick and a lot less everything, for,., um,., Bill Keith’s building, and for all the buildings that are back there where my warehouse is. Just something to think about when takeng these petitions on and lookin’ at ‘em, because it does make a difference, and, and, these are the businesses that are bringing money to the town. Thank you.
Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive): I would ask this question, and ,., maybe our professional engineer here can answer the question. Uh, once you’re building commercial here, do you need a certified professional engineer to approve all the drawings for this, since the public has access to this parking lot. My other concern is simply this, I see,., I don’t know if that’s a ,., and I’ll ask this question, I think Alsip’s a terrific business, so I am not criticizing them in any way. I only look at the safety issue of having the propane tank next to the building. Uh, there must be some regulations on where you put a big propane tank like that. And the other question is this; there is a little cubicle thing there that,., is that like a transformer. In that box. And I looked at whatever the retaining wall is around the propane tank,., um,., I know that drawing may not show it, but I think you have to separate that propane tank away from a building where you have people like that. Uh, I think that,., that you know,., I got no problem with Alsip and them trying to improve things. But I think the standards, you know, it’s a commercial building, you got a propane tank there,., next to a building, I think you have to address the safety issues for that. Uh, then,., I have no objections to the building itself. You guys decide that. That your purview. But I raise the safety issue of the propane thank being next to a building like that. And if that is in fact a transformer there, that thing gets hit and pushed into the propane tank, that could be an ignition point. I just raise that issue.
Karl Madsen (11347 Valley Drive): Just actually a couple of questions, uh, thank you Mr. Eberly for the site plan. And I think it was instructive tonight, is the only change from last month, the uh,., the movement,., the proposed movement of the pole barn from the South end of the lot, just rotated a few feet over onto the North side.
Mr. Eberly advised that at the last month’s meeting, that building was where it is shown now. I believe Mr. Christakes was referring to a previous exhibit that might have been from back in November of last year.
Karl Madsen (continued): Got it, okay, so that plan, even though it’s a little different from the site plan. Alright, that’s good. And no other building movement since then, right?,., the plans are as I received it. And then, I think one question that I was asked to propose,., present to the Board, is um, the question about lighting. I know we spent some time talking about lighting at another issue, another time, but uh,., some of the people have asked me whether or not that lighting variance that was in the original notice,., if that’s been satisfied, changed, granted, because we don’t have that lighting variance notice as part of the current one.
Mr. Eberly advised that there is no lighting variance being requested with this submittal. Mr. Schneider stated he believed that lighting is approved by the Plan Commission, regarding photo metrics and other issues. Mr. Eberly advised that would be done under the Site Plan review of a development, and if there was a need for a variance it would come back to the BZA, however at this point I have no information that there is a need for a variance.
Karl Madsen (continued): General parking lot lighting then Mr. Chairman is,.,
Mr. Schneider and Mr. Eberly advised that the lighting involved is just on the building and is what they call “wall pack” that shines directly down and not out. Mr. Eberly advised that there is no new parking lot lighting proposed.
Gerry Swets (9490 Joliet Street): I agree with all the things that Mr. Schneider said about Alsip Nursery, and how wonderful they are for this town. But I am going to um,., ask you to require this addition to meet the standards required in the Overlay for 41 when it comes to exterior. Whether its stone or brick, or whatever, this is a retail location, and I would like to see that the guidelines that have been laid out for the town are maintained. Um, I know this could be an additional expense, um,., and I’m unfortunate for that, but I believe we do need to stay with,., with the ordinances as much as possible. Thank you.
With no further comment from the public, Mr. Schneider closed the floor and brought the matter back to the board, and asked the petitioner to please step back up to the podium.
Mr. Christakes commented that in response to Mr. Hero’s question as to whether it is a transformer; it is not. It is a housing for a scale to weigh the propane tanks as they are filled, and it keeps the connections and is the way to actually fill the tanks so that it keeps it out of the elements.
Mr. Panczuk passed a drawing around to the other board members showing the building with full brick on the South and West exposure, so just visualize brick around the door and above that roof. I brought that drawing in from last month because we were talking about it. Mr. Williams asked the petitioner of they can have the lower building complete brick, and then 4’ wainscot on the garage.
General discussion ensued amongst the board members and the petitioner on the brick issue. Mr. Christakes stated they came back with one (1) plan, which they believe is consistent with what the board members stated they wanted to see. Mr. Schneider commented that they have two (2) separate matter before them with numerous variances; one being called the “Contractor Building” and the other being the greenhouses. Mr. Eberly advised he has outlined in his handout the various variance items that have to be addressed, and suggested that they do one structure at a time to clarify for the record what is being voted on. Discussion noted that the Greenhouse Addition is East, and a continuation of the existing seven (7) 40’ wide, and this would be one more 40’ wide and again going eastward. Mr. Eberly clarified that variance Item 2 – 5 and 6 really only apply to the property and nothing to do with the buildings, or the way the building are built.
Mr. Schneider asked about the propane tank that was brought up in public comment. Mr. Christakes advised that it that is not up to code, they are willing to relocate the propane tank and stated that is not that difficult to accomplish, only needing an electrician to move a line. Mr. Eberly advised that it will be looked at the State Plan Review, as well as our Building Commissioner at the time when the permit request is submitted.
Mr. Eberly suggested that they address the Contractor Building first, as if he understands the board in their discussions of what they want. What will be called the “office portion” of the building, the entire West side and South side will be bricked; wainscoting to a height of four feet (4’) along the garage doors and the remainder can be the steel siding that is being proposed. Mr. Austgen advised that wording would be a good motion; therefore the board would be looking for a motion to that effect or similar.
Mr. Eberly advised that variances Item 2 and 3 apply to both buildings. They are not going to meet the requirement of eight (8) building corners on either buildings. Variances Item 5 and 6 apply to the property in general.
Mr. Schneider advised that they are going to go on the Greenhouse Addition first, and entertained motions in the following order:
· Variance Item 1: Three Exterior Building Materials, per Chapter 8 K.2.
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to grant the variance from Three Exterior Building Materials on the Greenhouses; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Kennedy seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
· Variance Item 2: Minimum Building Corners, per Chapter 8 K.3.
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to grant the variance from Minimum Building Corners on the Greenhouses; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Kennedy seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
· Variance Item 3: Exterior Building Materials, per Chapter 10 Section A & B
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to grant the variance from Exterior Building Materials on the Greenhouses; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Kennedy seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
· Variance Item 5: Bicycle and Pedestrian Access, per Chapter 8.4 M
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to grant the variance from Bicycle and Pedestrian Access on the Greenhouses and Contractor Building; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Ryan seconded motion. Motion carried 4 ayes – 1 nay (J. Kennedy)
· Variance Item 6: Access to Individual Tracts, per Chapter 8.4 N
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to grant the variance from Access to Individual Tracts on the Greenhouses and Contractor Building; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Kennedy seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
Mr. Schneider advised that they are going to go on the Contractor Building, and entertained motions in the following order:
· Variance Item 2: Minimum Building Corners, per Chapter 8 K.3.
Mr. Williams made a motion to grant the variance from Minimum Building Corners on the Landscape Contractor Building; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Panczuk seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
· Variance Item 3: Exterior Building Materials, per Chapter 10 Section A & B.
Mr. Williams made a motion to grant the variance from Exterior Building Materials on the Landscape Contractor Building, with the conditions of:
• Full Brick on the West and South facing sections of Landscape Contractor Building;
• Four feet (4’) high wainscoting of the South side the “garage” portion of Landscape Contractor Building;
• In addition, the West-facing portion of the roof line to roof line of the Landscape Contractor Building does not have to be brick; and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Mr. Panczuk seconded motion. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
Mr. Christakes thanked the board members for their patience.
[Mr. Schneider declared a short break in the meeting, advising they will reconvene in five or ten minutes].
D. CIRCLE K (9300 Wicker Avenue) - Developmental / Technical and Special Exception Variances (Mr. Jim Wieser)
Mr. Schneider advised the next item of business is Circle K Convenience Store with Fuel / Oil. Mr. Schneider wanted everyone in attendance to be aware that the Board is looking at nine (9) variances on this item this evening. Mr. Schneider asked the petitioner to come forward to the podium.
Mr. Eberly wanted Mr. Schneider to be aware, first, that the legal notices and the proofs of publication are in order for the public hearing to proceed this evening. Mr. Eberly further advised that the outline that was distributed to the board members, wherein there are a couple of the variances that were applied for, advertised and noticed, that he does not feel that the Petitioner actually needs. Mr. Eberly pointed to the “Electronic Message Board” variance, is not a flashing or scrolling message board and is only an electronic lit sign showing gas prices, and therefore his interpretation is that variance is not applicable.
Further, Mr. Eberly stated that the “Canopy Setback” variance, they were advised to apply for that in the beginning as well, and that is not applicable, as it already meets or exceeds the requirement.
Next, and he will be looking to Mr. Austgen to counsel on this matter, and that would be the “Lot Size” variance. Mr. Austgen, Mr. Muenich and myself had a chance to discuss this, however in my opinion it is a very confusing section of our Overlay District, where we require a lot size to be initially two (2) acres. However, if a lot legally existed as a platted parcel prior to the adoption of this Overlay District, and it is a legal non-conforming lot, it then acquires land around it to get closer to the two (2) acres minimum than it started out as. In this case, it is 4/10ths of an acre parcel that was originally platted. Then from that time it bought property from the bank and is winding up at around 1.4 acres (+/-), so the dilemma is to determine whether that satisfies getting closer to the two (2) acres and, as a result, would not require a “Lot Size” variance. Mr. Eberly then deferred to Town Attorney David Austgen for more specifics on the matter.
Mr. Austgen stated that it was a very good explanation, but you need to look at Section 8.4 – E.3(c). Mr. Austgen advised that is the “catch all phrase” that the undersized parcel or lot may be used for any purpose, or any use permitted in the U.S. 41 District, provided that, and then the subsection (c); portion of that section is, all other requirements applicable to the U.S. 41 District can be met. Well that is what all the other items are, that are before you and have been advertised and are subject to petition review, by you, in this public hearing. I have also just explained them to Jim (Weiser), cause this to be in our opinion, necessary for consideration as an application item.
Mr. Eberly asked Mr. Austgen to clarify, that if all the other items that they are requesting were approved, then would “Lot Size” be a variance they would have to seek. Mr. Austgen stated it would not, if they meet their requirements as they make their submission tonight, and you determine, or they are granted variances that cause them to be permitted, for those aspects of the project development, then they do not need a variance for the undersized lot.
Mr. Eberly stated that to summarize again, Items 3 and 4, they don’t need variances for. Item 5, will depend on whether they are granted the other variances that they are seeking. However, Item 1 is the Special Exception; they must request a special exception to be able to conduct this use in your Overlay District. In addition, they would have to seek that same Special Exception if it were just the C-2 Zoning District, which is the underlying zoning district. The “Special Exception” I know that you understand as something you make a recommendation to the Town Council about. And your options are, under the law for Favorable, Unfavorable or No Recommendation, and with conditions if you deem appropriate. The Town Council would then take that up at some subsequent meeting and decide that matter within ninety (90) days.
Mr. Kennedy asked Attorney Austgen, what happened to the variances, do they stay with the lot, if the Council does not agree with the “Special Exception”, or is the variances contingent on this project specifically. Mr. Austgen advised it would be subject to this project specifically and my recommendation would be for you is to make any approvals; variances, developmental variances, subject to the approval of the “Special Exception”, so that is not a blanket approval for someone other than Mr. Weiser’s client.
Mr. Weiser introduced himself to the board members. Mr. Weiser advised that he is an attorney with offices in Schererville, Indiana and he represents the applicant here. Although the proposed fuel station is Circle K, and the parent company is Circle K, there is a LLC that was formed and that’s whose name the petition is made and the notices. That is Mac’s Convenience Store, LLC., but you will hear me referring to Circle K. If I might, we just have some drawings that Mr. Don Silver, who is assisting me, whereas you and the public can see them.
Mr. Schneider directed the petitioner to the dais ledge and advised that they could be flipped over, once reviewed by the board, they can then be viewed by the public in attendance.
Mr. Weiser stated for the purposes of the public right now, there are six (6) renderings in all. Three (3) show the proposed exterior of the building and three (3) show the proposed interior of the building, as it will be operated.
Mr. Weiser stated he wished to begin with a quick broad overview so that you are aware of what we are talking about since this is our first opportunity to make a formal presentation. Circle K is a corporation that owns and operates in the United States, about 8,000 different units and locations throughout the United States. They are a very strong company financially. And they discovered within the last year or so that Northwest Indiana and the Midwest is an area where they would like to, if possible move into. They would provide a quality service here that they provide elsewhere in the country. So, they have selected at this time, the Southeast corner of the intersection of 93rd and U.S. 41. Let me say just a few things in general so that you have the scope and the magnitude of this project. The investment in the project, not including the land acquisition, will be approximately four million dollars. It will employ approximately 12 to 15 full-time people. And although we cannot be completely accurate about the tabulations, I did take time to go the Lake County Auditor’s Office, and based upon the information that I provided them regarding the nature and scope of the construction, they did a rough calculation that the annual real estate tax to be generate from that site will be about $66,000.00. So, in a nutshell that is just the overview.
Mr. Weiser stated that one of the reasons that we wanted to provide those renderings that you see now, was to give you a good example of the type of facility that is operated by Circle K. It is a facility that really lends itself and puts itself out to the public as being customer-friendly, providing them a convenience, but also a “specialized convenience”. They make specialized food and is a very clean operation. In terms of this particular project, Circle K does not generate traffic, it is the beneficiary of traffic, and that is why this location seemed so appropriate.
We started out by telling you about the variances that we needed and we will go into those in detail shortly. However, if you consider that fact that there are a number of variances; but just in the Landscape Ordinance, we will need fifteen (15) variances from that ordinance, so we are actually looking for you to approve over twenty (20) variances in all. Maybe the community can look into that for the future in regards to its Overlay District and ordinance, and its requirements of landscape in a Commercial area along a U.S. highway. However, it is the ordinance and we need to comply or we need to obtain the variance, so that is why we are here.
Mr. Weiser advised that in discussions with Mr. Austgen, we agreed or understood that the information that I will present to you relative to the Special Exception and our compliance, what we believe to be our compliance with the statutory requirements, will be the last item I present to you. However, it is my understanding that we can do this all at one (1) time, is that correct. Mr. Austgen advised that is his recommendation.
Mr. Weiser advised that the first variance that we need is the “Off Site Sign” requirements. We have provided to you, that simply is just a directional sign, and the only reason we are seeking this variance is that it is not located on our property. It is located on an “easement” in our favor with the Bank.
Technically, it is located on the bank’s property, but they have provided and we have entered into a recorded easement agreement, where they permit that sign. Were our property extend, we would not even be seeking this variance.
[Mr. Eberly apologized to the board members and public for the orientation of the meeting room screen, display of renderings].
Mr. Weiser advised the display is Option 3, located to the southern part of our property, and North of the Bank, just to direct folks into station and that is the appropriate and proper place to go. In all other respects, it meets your requirements of the ordinance; it is just simply needs the variance because it is technically off-site, even though we have an easement for the purpose of placing it there.
Mr. Weiser commented that as Mr. Eberly stated earlier we do not need that variance for the “Electronic Messaging Board” or the “Canopy Setback” variance; and so we go to the “Lot Size” variance. Mr. Austgen and I were speaking before we started our public hearing about that issue. The parcel of property that is available there for development is 1.4 acres, and your Overlay Ordinance requires a minimum of two (2) acres, unless it is a previously recorded lot and it meets three requirements. Well, we have a previously recorded lot, that meets two of the three requirements, but it does not meet the third, which is the overall “catch all phrase”, which states in all other respects we have to comply. Therefore, if you make the determination that in all of the other respects that we comply, then we do not need this. Due to this, that is why we have submitted our request for that this evening. The size of the land, and the size of the property is sufficient for our purposes, and meets from our perspective, all of the requirements that we feel that we need to satisfy in all safety and traffic requirements. Mr. Weiser advised that he will be providing a packet from INDOT regarding the specific topic.
Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Weiser about the owner of the undersized lot, either owning or having some sort of future ownership at the effective date of the variance, and asked if they have the agreement with the bank. Mr. Weiser advised that they do have that agreement with the Bank to purchase the property, subject to certain contingencies and due diligence requirements in which we are now engaged.
Mr. Weiser advised the next variance request is the “Building Size” requirement. This is kind of an interesting one in terms of an attorney that does a lot of planning and zoning. Your Overlay District requires that no building, and that is no building from 85th Avenue to Route 231, can be constructed on U.S. 41 that is less than 15,000 square feet. I am assuming there is a reason for that, however that would preclude about 90% of most small business and businesses that would tend to locate in an area like that, including us, however that is your requirement. Our building is 4,970 square feet, and therefore needs that variance. Mr. Weiser advised that he knows that the Overlay District Ordinance has only been in existence since 2009, and can only assume that all businesses were developed and constructed prior to that time, because only with an exception or two, they certainly do not meet that requirement.
We feel that when you offer a business that provides the kind of service and convenience to the residents of the community that we can provide, and notes he has yet to see a Fuel Center anywhere around here that is 15,000 square feet or remotely close. All seem to be on an average of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet. The fact of the matter is that requirement alone would preclude literally the development of that corner forever. Whoever develops that corner, unless that Overlay District is amended or repealed, however given the dictates of the Overlay District Ordinance “any” use there would have to meet that requirement, and as you can see there is no way that you can put a 15,000 square foot building and ever hope to meet all of the setback, parking and all the other requirements, it is absolutely an impossibility.
We believe that the business that we want to locate there should be granted that variance, because it is a logical granting of a variance because it is a requirement that creates a hardship. The ordinance itself creates that hardship, for anybody to meet that 15,000 minimum square feet.
Mr. Kennedy asked what the 4,900 square feet is in relation to a typical prototype of a Circle K. Mr. Don Silver advised that they have three (3) standards that they go by. We have a 5,881 square foot building; a 4,900 square foot building; and a 3,818 square foot building. Mr. Kennedy then confirmed that this is the middle size of these buildings.
Mr. Weiser then stated, as you also heard with Alsip, we have the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Access’ variance. It is not that we would not cooperate and want to try to do something; it would just be a bicycle/pedestrian access to nowhere.
Mr. Weiser then commented on the “Landscaping” variances, just so you are aware, the landscape variances he wants to identify. This is Section F of the Landscaping Ordinance. We would need a variance from: F.4, F.5, Section 1, 1.2, Section O, under the Overlay District, landscaping requirements, Section O.1, and some subsections, each individual subsection (a) and (c), Section O.2, subsection (a), (b) and (e); O.3, subsection (a) and (b); O.7 and under the Parking Lot requirements for landscaping, under P.1, we have subsection (a), (b); and then under P.2, the parking lot interior requirements for the landscaping, and it’s not that we don’t want provide it.
Mr. Weiser asked Mr. Eberly to display the Landscape Plan rendering on the meeting room screen. Mr. Eberly said that he does, but it is at such a small scale that he does not know if anyone would be able to see. Mr. Eberly advised that he has been provided with a two-page list on the landscaping variance from Mr. Weiser.
Mr. Weiser handed out hard copy materials to the board members for review. Mr. Austgen and Mr. Weiser clarified that it is the same document provided to Mr. Eberly but enlarged for better viewing.
Mr. Weiser advised that finally, as is noted they are providing in the front of building parking spaces, thus they will be seeking a variance from the “Front Yard Parking” of Chapter 11 C.3(m).
Mr. Weiser noted that it is usually standard for parking in the front and it would be a disservice for the parking to only to allowed in the rear and on the side, and that you cannot really park in the rear because that is used for the traffic flow.
As you know there are certain ordinance and statutory requirements that we need to satisfy regarding these variances, as they appear before you. Mr. Weiser handed additional hard copy material to the board members.
Mr. Eberly advised that for the edification of the board members, “Special Exception” criteria are developed by the community. The criteria for the “Developmental Standards” variances and for “Use” variance are developed in State law, but State law provides that special exception criteria can be developed by the community and we have developed our own seven (7) criteria that you and the Town Council judge the petitioner’s request.
Mr. Eberly wanted it noted that concerning the “bicycle / pedestrian” variance is concerned, there is a public sidewalk along both sides of the property. That particular requirement though would require them putting a pathway “through” a development, and as you know the public sidewalk is not specifically on the property, it is in the public right-of-way, so I believe it is a technicality.
Mr. Weiser directed the board members attention to the materials provided is in regards to the Special Exception, and that the law in Indiana is clear that if we meet those requirements, then the special exception should be granted, and that is “if we meet the requirements”, it is not a discretionary act, it is a mandatory act and an act of compliance. What I have provided to you for identification purposes is an opinion from Vale Appraisal Group (Jeff Vale, MAI – one of the few MAI’s in Northwest Indiana), and we contracted with him to analyze the site and to provide an opinion to you. The property is in a C-2 District, the property to the North is C-2, East is C-2, South is C-2 and the West property where the church is located appears to be a R-2 District. If you look at the opinion of Mr. Vale, and this is evidence that we are submitting. The summary states that our development does not in any way present any issue that would be detrimental to the public health, safety or morals.
In conjunction with that, I direct your attention to an e-mail that came from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) because we met with them, due to the significance of activity that we have undertook. We met with INDOT because they have control and jurisdiction over U.S. 41 and presented our plan to them in a meeting in Laporte District, wherein they reviewed the plan. It was determined from a safety and soundness perspective, and a traffic flow perspective, that they requested that we have a median placed in U.S. 41 that would extend down South of our property to equally protect those business as well. Circle K has agreed, at their expense of approximately $150,000.00 to have that median placed in U.S. 41 for safety purposes and for the better flow of traffic, and in compliance with INDOT requirements.
Further, when we came before the Plan Commission at study sessions, initially we had two (2) entrances off of 93rd Avenue, and we eliminated the entrance that was closest to U.S. 41 and we moved the East entrance to the farthest as would be appropriate, but still protecting the right-of-way to Nina’s Salon, so that it would not cause a difficulty for that business as well. This would provide for a much smoother flow of traffic.
Those were the off-site improvements, and of course we will provide an “excel / decel” lane on 93rd as well, to assist with the traffic movement and the traffic flow.
As far as the interior goes; I want to point out that we are in compliance with the canopy and the structure that supports the canopy will be in brick and decorative. My client advises that they receive two (2) deliveries of fuel per week. There are two fuel tanks that are placed inside the ground, one is a 20,000 gallon tank that holds regular fuel and gets filled to 90% of capacity. The other tank is holds a combination of 6,000 gallons of premium gas and 12,000 gallons of diesel gas. Those tanks are properly encapsulated and placed in accordance to the requirements of the appropriate regulating agencies. The maximum number of deliveries of fuel would be two (2) in one week, and there may only be a rare occasion where it would require three (3), but unlikely, and sometimes only requiring one (1) depending on sales and sales volumes. So now, we are talking about the movement of a semi-truck loaded with fuel at the most twice a week. We have made a wider access point off of U.S. 41, it is 40’ wide to accommodate the trucks that would primarily come from the South. Then we have provided for an interior traffic flow that would allow those trucks the appropriate radius for them to maneuver around without safety hazard to traffic or the public.
Mr. Weiser advised that they feel they have satisfied the first requirement and for purposes of the record and identify the remainder of the packet that was submitted. I submitted several letters of support from businesses in the community. My recollection is from G & K Development, Schoop’s Hamburgers, Alkon Consulting, saying that in their opinion as business members of this community that they have no objection, nor do they see this as a problem and welcome this business into the community.
Mr. Weiser went through the individual criteria of the “Special Exception”, and noted as previously stated that they have satisfied all of the local criteria in documentation. Mr. Weiser stated that the last criteria, in the event that there was some time limitation that would be imposed, to be clear the operation of Circle K is a twenty-four (24) hour operation, and that is consistent with all of the operations that they have all over the country for which they have had no reported difficulties or problems. We wish to point out that it will be a business which is within 120’ of your Public Safety Facility that is very visible from the road and business, and thus would act as a deterrent.
Mr. Weiser noted personally, that all that this community has of this nature that is available is all the way down to 133rd Avenue, South in Cedar Lake; so it is our belief that it is a service that needed by this community, beneficial, and also complies with those requirements that would permit and direct you to approve the special exception. Mr. Weiser directed the board attention to the renderings that were supplied and noted that they are accurate in that is what the facility will look like and the quality services that they will provide. Circle K has internally, inspectors that come in to check for cleanliness and “mystery shoppers” that come in as part of the program to check if there is compliance with their standards, in regards to food quality and overall cleanliness of the facility. Mr. Weiser advised there is a protocol for that. Mr. Weiser advised that they are ready to answer any questions of the board and the public.
Mr. Schneider asked the board members if they have any questions for the petitioner. Mr. Kennedy asked about the raised curbing, for which Mr. Eberly advised that they have a layout that shows the dimensions where they have addressed that.
Mr. Weiser addressed Mr. Schneider with one final point, as there seems to be some consternation in regards to 93rd Avenue. Because of the requirement of INDOT that the median be put in, it will be physically impossible for a truck to come out on 93rd and go South, and INDOT’s thinking in that regard is that they want them to use the traffic signal. From their perspective, the only non-typical car or SUV traffic that would be generate would be one to a maximum of two trucks a week, so in a seven day span having to pull out onto 93rd Avenue.
Mr. Schneider advised that he is going to open the floor to public comment. Mr. Schneider advised that there is a lot of confusion and stated that he would like the comments directed to what is in front of this board, and not items that are part of the Plan Commission process. Mr. Austgen and Mr. Schneider discussed the bleed-over of comments, and the relevancy of factors that the board has to consider.
With that being said, Mr. Schneider opened the floor to public comment and reminded those wishing to speak to come to the podium and please state your name and address for the record.
Erik Schneider (11130 West 93rd Avenue): He is from Hometown Appliance, also going to be speaking on behalf of a being part of the Chamber of Commerce, a former board member and the Town Liaison appointed by our current President. Um, just gonna jump around here a little bit because, uh, obviously there’s so much that is on this. Um, you know, obviously we’re all concerned, um, Mr. Weiser, from what I also understand is uh,., at the January Chamber meeting you kinda presented this to the Chamber and I am going to “assume” that that is where a lot of your information, or your support from local businesses came from. Uh, however after talking to people and actually explaining what I have witnessed in the Plan Commission meetings and everything else. Um, it seems as though there’s a, uh there’s two sides to every story, uh, the rainbows and butterflies that were presented at the ,., at the chamber meeting isn’t, isn’t the whole truth. Um, you know, and if you think that this business will not generate more traffic to an already over, over populated area, then Mr. Weiser, I don’t ,., I don’t know what you and your client are thinking. Uh,., the fact that you’ve kinda insulted, uh, not only the Town, but this board, uh, because of saying that it’s inconvenient for you and your client to have to get so many variances, is a perfect example why maybe you should look for a new location. The Overlay District in this Town is set for a reason, to , to protect us, who live here. And to protect the integrity of what is, what is asked and what the look. Obviously there’s, every month, there’s people coming up looking for variances for, for little things here and there. But when, from what I understand, your business is, for the most part prohibited from being in the Overlay District,., it just seems that,., I don’t even understand why this has gone this far. Um, in reference to Mr. Kennedy’s question when he asked you about if the potential land purchase is already in place,., um, first thing that came to my mind was,., you know,., that’s great that you guys have talked about it, but is there anything documented especially since Standard Bank who was,., the owner, is now been bought by First Midwest,., have those conversations been opened up to the new owners of the bank and the building and everything that, that takes part in that. As far as your safety,.,uh,., you made reference that a,., you know,., you guys will have no impact on our safety. Uh, the added traffic in fact does propose a safety health issue, for not only the public, as well as it does the Town of St. John first responders. And if anyone has any questions about that, please come see me at my store any Friday between 3 and 6, and watch how the police and the fire department try to get through, 93rd and 41 safely without,., injuring themselves or the public because of the congestion that is at that corner. I mean this is just the stuff that, you know,., we have to take into consideration and I’m hoping that the BZA takes into consideration, I know a lot of this also has to do with the Plan Commission and everybody else. And the Town Council, but,., you guys are the ones who inevitably protect the Overlay District,., and uh,., you know,., I think that’s the most important part of this. You have so many criteria set in that, and, they’re not even coming close to being able to fulfill even half of the requirements. Thank you.
Mr. Schneider commented that he should have mentioned earlier that there is a Town Ordinance, where there is a three minute limit on your comment. Mr. Austgen noted that you should allow the public hearing to continue, and that is a public comment at the commencement of public meetings, so that it does not apply for a public hearing of this nature. Mr. Williams thanked Mr. Austgen for the clarification.
Bryan Blazak (9299 Franklin Drive): Gentlemen, I’ve handed you a poll that was placed online, on a website called the “Nextdoor”. (Mr. Schneider asked him to state his name and address for the record). Um, the St. John residents were registered on this website by home address, meaning one residence, um,., one sign in. It’s 2,503 residents of St. John, that’s over a third of the population. Uh, these households get one address per one vote, and what you’re seeing in front of you is a vote that they have put in, 267 votes of which 82% or 219 are a negative for putting Circle K on the corner of 93rd and 41. The people,., if you look below you see, it says there’s over 101 comments. Basically,., these comments take into consideration traffic, taking peoples concern about safety. Take in peoples concern about a lot of issues. And as you can see,., if we had the time we could read the comments made by the residents on the poll expressing their opinions,., about the proposed gas station on this site. Please let me highlight a few of important points of concern. Number 1, traffic in and out and around the station. Traffic in and out and around 93rd and 41 is currently a nightmare, especially during rush hours in the morning and evening. People normally fuel up on their way to work and on their way home from work. We’re looking at what it is like to have traffic coming in and out of the station onto 93rd and 41 that will cause drivers to take risks to get back into the traffic flow, especially coming out to onto 93rd and trying to turn left to go and get on 41 at the traffic light. You put in a left turn lane, the Town put in a “no left turn” lane on Patterson, by Walgreens to go North, so you can’t go East on 93rd. And I’ll bet you that I see at least 1 if not 2 people every week without fail, turning left there, and jamming their cars into traffic across lanes just so they can short check the corner. Now you can imagine what they’re gonna do when the traffic’s lined up the way back to Town Hall, trying to come out of that gas station and go back to 41, they’re gonna try and turn left and they’re gonna block traffic right in front of,., of, of the, the store that’s there now. So therefore they’re gonna have people causing dangerous situations and its gonna be dangerous for everybody whose is driving in and around that area. Um, the concrete divide required by the Indiana DOT southbound on Route 41 will also be a safety concern, especially in inclimate weather, for snow and rain. You’re also gonna have people trying to figure out if it’s not the kind of divide that we think of as just a bump in the road, you’re gonna have people trying to drive over that as well. We all know from seeing people drive every day that it’s gonna be a problem. Um, 93rd and 41 is the busiest corner in St. John. The soon to be proposed ten-year Comprehensive Plan shows the Town Center is going to be constructed one to two blocks south of this proposed gas station. We do not believe that a gas station should be the central focus of our busiest corner and an anchor for what is going to be our future Town Center. We have a Go-Lo station on the adjacent corner, so a Circle K is not going to add any new concept of business to the corner. Just add a second gas station. We do not feel this corner is the appropriate site for this station, but we welcome Circle K to consider any site further south down Route 41 before 231, closer to 109th. We could talk more about the reasons why this site for Circle K is not a good idea, but I believe we’ve made our points. Seriously traffic and safety concerns, increased accidents, congestion; not to mention the gas tankers that will be coming and going out of that station. We do not feel a gas station should be on the busiest main corner in St. John. It will be a block from our very attractive Town Hall and police and fire department. And, as was raised a few minutes ago, the emergency equipment getting out of there during rush hour, between 3 and 6 o’clock at night, is gonna be unbelievably bad,., bad idea. The soon to be proposed Town Center in the ten-year Comprehensive Plan being a couple blocks south, we don’t think we need that as the central hub in our,., uh district, in our Overlay District. It’s not an attractive addition to the plan. We welcome Checker to build anywhere else south on Route 41 in St. John, but not on this specific corner on 93rd and 41. Thank you.
Gerald Swets (9490 Joliet Street): Gentlemen, I also have petitions. I’ve got 37 signatures on a petition. Um, I also have a statement from Gretchen Sutherland that asked me if I would turn this in so I will pass along to the Chairman when I’m completed here. Gentlemen, we depend on you and this board, I’m gonna try to keep my comments as brief as possible. Um,., but, but you’re in charge of the zoning ordinances, and I understand that you can make exceptions and authorizations to change things. But, I’m here to remonstrate against the request of Circle K. I have nothing against Circle K. I’ve nothing against their fine business, I use them as I travel around the country. But, I don’t believe it is the proper location for this business. I don’t think the need for this gas station is sufficient to make the exceptions for this prime location of this property. Um,., if we look at, I don’t think Circle K has met the three main requirements of Indiana Code 36- so on and so forth,., that was stated earlier as well, as the requirements for,., for St. John. As I look at the 2006 Thoroughfare Plan, that intersection grew from 5,000 vehicles a day in 2004, to 9,700 vehicles in 2015. And is anticipated to double in the next ten years. Then you add the quick stop traffic at this service station “quickie mart”, and this is a disaster in the making. Um, this building project will also likely effect any widening of 93rd in the future. I look at the Indiana citizen’s planner guide for the BZA. You’re allowed to make some variances, but they can also permanently or potentially detail the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan and this location and this business and in this location is not part of the Town’s plan. I don’t think the petitioner has shown, to meet the developmental standards required. Number 1, I think every vehicle wishing to go south on 90..um,., south on 41 is going to have a challenge. This is already a busy intersection. It’s backed up and trying to cross traffic in that busy tr,.,and while it is already busy, will back up traffic even further. That, that will affect the Public Safety Building. Which would affect the ability for our emergency vehicles, police and fire, to get past that bottleneck to 41, this is not safe. This will also affect the accessibility in to other businesses that need 93rd. Um, east 93rd for entrance to their businesses, and the difficulties with deliveries to the station by trucks other than tankers will,., will probably duplicate those issues as well, there’s not sufficient space, um,., for maneuverability,., actually I’m sorry,., I re,., re,., I pull that back. It does not matter if it is a hair salon or if it is a rental income from property. If the traffic in or out of that business is affected, so is that property will be affected and so will that property owner. And as traffic backs up on 93rd, there will be businesses that are going to be affected. And as I look for practical difficulties I believe there are many other types of business that could use that corner. So that corner property will remain the prime corner in the Town of St. John. And since it is not currently owned by Circle K they won’t sss,., suffer any significant financial hardships. Does not fit in the Town’s overlay plan, and I don’t think that,., and I don’t believe that Circle K has shown that they meet all the requirements. So I ask you to um,., vote against this application. Thank you.
Mr. Austgen asked Chairman Schneider to read the name and address of the written remonstrance submitted by Mr. Swets for another person, into the record. Mr. Schneider read: Ms. Gretchen Sutherland, 10075 Spring Lake Road, St. John. Mr. Austgen asked that it be put in the record verbatim please.
Gretchen Sutherland (10075 Springlake Road): January 23, 2017. Dear BZA Members, I am unable to attend the BZA meeting this evening due to a work obligation. I am writing to express my opposition to the building of a Circle K Gas Station at the corner of 93rd and Wicker Avenue. I am not opposed to a Circle K being built in the town of St. John; I am simply opposed to the location. My concern is based primarily on safety. The section of Wicker Avenue running south through to Alsip Nursery has many safety issues. There is a high volume of traffic, including many semi-trucks with inadequate center turn lanes. There is also a number of places where cars are turn across traffic creating many accidents and near misses. This is largely a concern at Wicker Avenue and Joliet but continues down passed Dairy Queen to Rascal’s and again at the shopping area south of Target and toward Alsip Nursery. My other safety concern stems from the inadequate distance to exit the proposed gas station to drive North or South on Wicker Avenue. I believe that cars attempting to access Wicker Avenue from 93rd will cause a delay in Emergency Services coming from the Police and Fire Station located to the East of the proposed gas station. Others will go south of the proposed station and attempt to exit North or South onto Wicker from the bank or Dunkin Donuts. Cars that attempt to exit south from those location only increase the safety concern at the intersection of Joliet and Wicker Avenue. Please keep the residents of St. John and all who visit safe by not allowing a variance and preventing the gas station from being built at the corner of 93rd and Wicker Avenue. Thank you for your consideration! Respectfully //s// Gretchen Sutherland, Resident, Town of St. John
Nina Dimer (11123 West 93rd Avenue): Hi, I’m Nina of Nina’s Salon. And I am just coming out of my skin. I am very concerned about the traffic as everybody else is. I watch the fire trucks trying to get through that intersection, and it’s a nightmare. And I wish we had a solution to make it better. I’m sorry that, you know, this is a beautiful building, the plans are great. But my little business is not going to survive. I am not going to make it with the in and out, my parking and um,., I’m really concerned. So,., thank you for listening to me, and I just hope we can work something out to where they can maybe be in another location. There’s plenty of places in St. John. Um,.,, south of our corner that maybe it could benefit us, so, thank you.
Vince Casboni (9679 White Oak Avenue): Former firefighter for the Town of St. John with 29 years of service. As a firefighter you people don’t know what I had to do, plus my two other brothers, and the firefighters of this Town of St. John to try and get across 93rd and 41. Today I came back from Chicago, down Indianapolis Boulevard. And I counted all the gas stations we have. There is quite a few of ‘em. Those nobody that has two gas stations on the corner, believe it or not. The first one coming in off of 80/94. You have one here which is, um, a Pilot which is in Hammond. Highland has one which is uh,., Family Express. Highland has Meier’s. Uh, you have Schererville, uh, which is at 30 and 41. 77th and 41,.um,., 77th and Indianapolis, you have a Speedway. I forgot the Shell that’s in Schererville. You have Speedway, which is by Bingo Lake. You have Lo-Go which is at 93rd and 41 and the last one’s at 133rd and Indianapolis Boulevard in Cedar Lake. Those are just one gas station on one corner. Why does St. John have to have two. I’m not arguing about the company. We just don’t need the gas station, two of ‘em right across from each other. Talking about, um, parking, if I recall a month ago, you people turned down Levin Tire because they had parking in the front of their store. I’m lookin’ at that building, is there going in the front of that store? Yes or no. Okay. You have two entrances, one coming in off of 41 and one either coming in or going out on 93rd. Last week I came in from Crown Point. The back up was at the railroad tracks at 93rd and 41. As a firefighter what’s gonna happen when they have to come out. The other issue I have is you people just ordered an $8,000 engine. It gonna have a thousand gallons of water. You better make sure you could have that engine plus an ambulance sitting at that corner at 93rd and 41. Thank you.
Tim Wolf (8229 Meadow Court): Um, as we all know, 93rd and 41 is our main intersection of the Town. It’s the main East – West thoroughfare. You have to go down to 231 to go east and west. Uh, you have to go up to 77th to go east and west. Um, I think that we should have uh, that main intersection, as large as possible, as, uh,., with uh,., 30’ uh,., lanes on each side of the intersection for turn lanes. Um, you could put a median on 41 for a gas station, but for the residents that are in, uh,., for the residents in the, the uh, traffic on Joliet, we’ve asked and asked for a stop light there, and to no avail. But yet you can put a,., in for a filling station you can put a median in the,., and a turn lane. Um,.,I,., again you were concerned about cars parked on 41 for the tire store, this,., that you’re having uh,., cars parked and gas pumps. So, what’s the uh,., and you know, with Suncrest Christian Church, you wouldn’t give a little variance on one foot for a parking space but you’re giving these people 8 variances. Is it because they pay,., that there’s more property taxes involved than a church? Um, I’m gonna go back to my 1,500 member church and tell them what has gone on here, and uh,., you know, if you vote for this you voted for the gas station but you voted against every resident of St. John. Thank you.
Robert Godoy (9575 Renaissance Lane): Specific to the 3 exemptions, the building size variance,., I think it’s real cut and dry their really asking for a lot even though the nature of the business is a smaller business, uh, to cut that size down by a third is asking a lot of the variance. As goes for the parking as was previously stated, Levin was denied the same type of request due to the nature of their business, for the same thing. Um, a third and most important, I believe is a landscaping, pushing that landscaping that far out’s gonna cause a problem on 93rd traffic. Exiting, there’s currently,., there’s a turn on red, you can turn and go northbound on 41 from 93rd. That type of a variance and landscaping is gonna cause you to not be able see oncoming traffic going at the speed that their going and its gonna cause more accidents. And that’s all I have.
Mr. Eberly announced for clarification that it has been said several times that Levin Tire has been turned down for something. Levin Tire hasn’t been turned down for anything yet, they are revising a site plan and coming back before the BZA. There has not been a decision rendered on Levin.
Marilyn Peto (9430 Hilltop Drive): I’m against it and I’ll tell you why. Traffic on 93rd is horrendous. I live one block from 93rd. I can’t make a left hand turn. During work hours it’s impossible. It takes me five – ten minutes to make a right hand turn. You wanna put a gas station with the exit on 93rd. When I come home down 93rd heading West, there are always 5 or 6 cars, sometimes 7. How is a big truck gonna come out. And if he does, he’s gonna cross 93rd on both lanes. This is an accident waiting to happen. I’m against it. Thank you.
Bill Merna (9361 Hilltop Drive): You look at it southbound goin’ into that gas station. What is stopping cars and trucks from exiting that same route. Coming back out onto 41. Nothin’. Same way, when you send a,., a truck driver, if he said I’ll come from the south, I’ve been in truckin’ all my life. Half these guys don’t know where the hell their goin’. When they come down 41 comin’ from Whiting, hit 93rd they make that left turn, now their gonna try to swing in that gas station from 93rd, here you gotta car comin’ out that gas station. Bang!, there you go. You’re gonna have a hell ov’a wreck. So. We don’t need this gas station there. He needs to go down the street somewhere, where that old K-Mart is, knock that damn thing down. Put ‘em ov’a there, all kinds a room. Thank you very much.
Joan Parducci (9278 Patterson Street): I do recall when Walgreen wanted to put a 24 hour store there, how much fighting there was. Because we don’t want anything 24 hours. Your shopping centers are not 24 hours, so why should we have a gas station in our sweet little town supposedly, that’s going to be open 24 hours a day. We don’t need it. Another thing is, that turn off of Patterson,., the number of trucks,., I mean anybody’s truck, that turns to the right instead of the left, is,., I mean, I so more every day, all day long. And theres,., it’s happening all the time. And it gonna happen there too. And they, they don’t follow the rules. And when they cross that somebody is gonna get hurt. Thank you.
Rita Berg (10351 Joliet Street): I have just one other thing to bring to your attention. We do have a school across the street from where they are talking about putting this gas station in, and that concerns me because of the school buses trying to get in and out now, have to round around several blocks to cap the proper ways to get into the school and get back out the back end. And we should take into consideration the amount of children that we have in that area too, because we’ve had enough kids hurt in St. John. Thank you.
Bob Huizinga (11050 West 93rd Avenue): I could walk there. Um, I just,., I agree with what’s been spoken. The gas station, uh,., Circle K, should be moved south. Um, it’s a parking lot. At rush hour. Tryin’ to get in and out of that house and uh,., probably most of yous are aware of the traffic situation we got goin’ here. And uh,., I don’t,., I wouldn’t appreciate to have a lit-up business, 24-7, where I could see it out my front window. Ya know,., I bought into this cause, it was a quaint community. You know, I don’t want this thing turned into a New York City. They need ta,. ta move the businesses. Cause there’s several houses that are close. You know,., that’s all I’m asking that you consider. The people that have these houses here, are close to the businesses, and just don’t throw us to the curb. Cause it’s already brutal with the traffic trying to get in and out of here. Thank you.
Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive): First of all, I would like to ask if Mr. Weiser presented into evidence this contract with the bank where he has control over that property. You all know that you cannot change the zoning of somebody else’s property, or change those restrictions. I didn’t see him place that into evidence. Do you have that contract in your file? [Mr. Eberly: I do not]. Okay. Do you have in your file a power of attorney for Mr. Weiser to represent the bank, Schoop’s and the other people that were mention? [Mr. Eberly: No sir.]. Okay. Right now where is,., the biggest traffic congestion is 93rd and 41, the second biggest one is Joliet Street. Like Mr. Casboni, I was a fireman many years ago, and if you’re coming through the intersection of 93rd and 41, it’s a nightmare. With the expansion in this town, 93rd is not wide enough to handle the flow now. With this station here, it’s gonna less able to handle that flow. So what you’re gonna do is injure those people that need an ambulance,., they need a fire truck,., need an emergency vehicle,., who are on the other side of town, coming from the fire station down 93rd. So that goes against the health, safety and welfare of the people in town. You heard Rita Berg, who lost a child on 41, about the school busses, okay. My daughter get hit at Joliet when she was a teenager because of the traffic. You are increasing the hazards to the children town. Any school busses and the public safety and welfare. You do not need a paid consultant to say that property values will be diminished. People will not want to come to a town that you can’t drive through, and you can’t get the emergency services you need. You know when you need an ambulance, if you have a heart attack, or somethin’,., you got 4 to 6 minutes,., to get resuscitated, if you’re still alive. And, what that will do if you can’t get through that intersection, you can’t get the emergency service,., you’re gonna kill people. That’s what’s gonna happen,., if you allow the congestion to increase. Now, let’s talk about the,., first item on the list,., depend on what list you got,., special exceptions. There is no way you should grant a special exception. You look at the 1.39 acres, that this thing has,., it is almost a half an acre short of the requirement. Once you tear down that old bank building, all of the pre-existing, non-conforming conditions lapse. You’ve now created a new piece of property. Once the bank gives rights to the other property, you got a brand new lot. All those old non-conforming uses that may be grand-fathered, they lapse. So you have to then, go back,., and,., and get a 2 acre site for that. Your ordinance requires 15,000 square foot building on a 2 acre site. Now, that is conceivable if you have some low traffic business there, maybe some law offices or something like that. But right now, you put a gas station there,., you,., there’s no reason to give the special exception. You look at the Indiana Code, those 7 points,., okay. The first one is endangers the public health, safety and welfare and comfort and morals of the community. These types of gas stations,., how much crime do you have in the middle of the night? How many stickups? Is there somebody in the audience that’s worked at one of these gas stations? They become targets. We don’t need targets. This is gonna impede the normal traffic,., and orderly development of the town. Whose gonna want to come to a town where your fire services, your emergency services,., are not available to ‘em when they need ‘em, in time,., instantly, or within a few minutes. So that’s gonna effect the development of the town. We talk about adequate utilities. We talk about storm water drainage. You heard Mr. Weiser say it’s gonna migrate down to some pond near the park. What is the storm water,., from a filling station,., is it pure rainwater,., is it oil spills from drippings from cars,., is it gasoline drippings imbedded in the concrete,., when activated by water that flows. Do you want that in the pond by the park. No, that’s,., that’s a nuisance creator in my mine. And you look at the exit and entrance on 41. There is no way that you can go south out of there and,.,over,., because of the blockage of Joliet. If you come,., go south, in the evening,., the cars are lined up all the way from 93rd to Joliet, sometimes. That blocks that 93rd intersection and 41. But because people are waiting to make a turn, do you think you can,., put more traffic into that frontage road,., in front of the bank,., and Schoop’s,., and get on to 41 without causing more accidents. No, you can’t. This is not,., rocket scientist stuff. There’s an old saying “you can put lipstick on a pig,., but it’s still a pig”. Now, these are reputable businessmen, reputable attorneys,., so I’m not criticizing them. But the project,., you can paint all the lipstick you want on this project, but it’s still a bad project. That’s my point. So, the special exception should not be granted. The lot size issue. I disagree, with how that’s represented. Different people can disagree and still respect the other person. My point is simply this. They way you read that, lot size thing,., if you use the word close or closer,., that would mean that if you add a tenth,., a one-hundredth of an acre to the 1.39,., that would read 1.40. It would be ridiculous to interpret that wording to mean that you’re getting closer to the 2 acres. If you look at the last sentence in there, it is not conflicting, it tells you the way it is. You need to,., same setback as all the other businesses on 41. You need all the same setback of what’s on 93rd. And if you do that,., this thing won’t fit. So you need the 2 acres,., you can’t read that,., to say differently. I’d also like to reiterate everything that was said here tonight in my remonstrance against this thing. I haven’t heard anybody come up here tonight and say they love this. And what does it take,., common sense. What common sense be the judge in this case. You drive down 93rd. You drive down 41. I want you to imagine,., what this is gonna do to the traffic congestion,., what its gonna do fire services,., what its gonna do to increase hazardous,., conditions for the school busses,., and more than that,., consider you own homes. When you need those emergency services, and if you live on the west side of town, west of the fire station,., you’re family, yourself, and everybody else has a less expectation of getting those emergency services. So for all of those reasons, I ask that you reject the petitioner’s,., request here tonight. Thank you.
Judith Naylon (9904 Hickory Lane): I am absolutely amazed that we’re even having this discussion here tonight. Because this is such a colossally bad idea. Any business that comes in and has to request 20 variances to qualify to build is certainly in opposition to the design of the Town of St. John. I agree with all of the comments that have been made today against this project. And I resent Mr. W’s comments that the Town of St. John needs and wants this service station. That absolutely do not. Thank you.
Nick Georgiou (9412 Jack Drive): I was one of those people who wrote a letter in support of this project. I have my business at the corner of Joliet and 41. I’ve been witness to all the comments that are made, and uh,., relative to also seen the growth in this town that should be promoted. Uh,., it should also be noted that I was personally involved,., the Overlay District creates some significant restrictions on any development, uh, unless you have a very large parcel, which there are very few of ‘em along Route 41. I was personally involved with McDonald’s and the Eenigenburg projects, which all required multiple,., multiple exemptions from BZA in order to make those projects happen. Uh, Levin Tire is also one of the other, which I believe is a favorable project, which also is seeking multiple exemptions. I guess the town would have to ask itself, does the Overlay District benefit what they are trying to achieve. And in the zoning plan and the Comp Plan, Route 41 is the commercial district. So I think people have to embrace that, look at what’s going to do to bring new business to the town, and particularly all up and down 41. I’ve heard significant comments about traffic, believe me I know what it is trying to get out of 41 and Joliet, and cut through the side streets, and avoid that. Those are issues for the Town, not necessarily to the developer whose proposing to do this project. I think some of the comments made are valid, but they are not applicable to the variances, or the exceptions, that are being requested for the Circle K gas station. I think in order to promote growth in this town, I think Circle K should be looked at, and should be looked at very hard, but I think it could also promoted and it would be a welcome addition to the town. Thanks.
Sue Furtek (10015 Springlake Road): Um,., I’m not closed to the idea of having a nice gas station like this. But it needs to be further to the south, it really does. But no one has brought up, and I noticed this last Friday,., I ran a quick errand to Go-Lo, and it was,., there was a train. No one’s brought up the trains. That train was backed up half-way through the old dental building. And I mean from where that entrance is,., I mean,., no one would be moving in and out of that gas station, period. And I just wanted to bring up the fact that ,., no one has mentioned the trains. And it is a nightmare between 3 and 6. You can’t even get through there. So, I ,.,uh,., I like the idea. I think it looks great. But it just,., I think the area is just too small for something of this size. And that’s it.
Mr. Eberly asked the Chairman to make a point, because a couple of people have made the point about why we are even hearing this tonight. I just want folks to know that the Town cannot prevent someone from coming to the town and seeking a variance, or seeking a re-zoning, or whatever it is. We can’t say “we don’t want you here” don’t come before us, the law provides they have the right the ask. So, I would hope that you don’t assume that just because we’re having this meeting, this is a forgone conclusion, and the petitioner’s is going to get what their asking for. This body “has to hear” the petitions that come before it. We can not say “you can’t come here”. We couldn’t say this if you wanted it. The side yard variance that was before us early in the evening. I can’t tell that gentleman he can’t come before us and seek that variance. He has the right to seek the variance or to seek a re-zoning. So please, there has been some anger I think taken out on this board, and it is unfair, because they “have to hear it”, they have no choice. I would hope that you understand that.
Mr. Schneider stated that there were comments made on lights at Joliet Street, and things of that nature. That isn’t even in the Town’s jurisdiction. That is in the Indiana Department of Transportation, and they have numerous times that they have rejected that light there. It may be a problem, however, it is not in our authority to resolve.
Ronna Reznick (9971 Wisteria Lane): And I just agree with pretty much what everyone said tonight, um,., I tried to make a left out of um,., that particular spot tonight, on just a normal,., a normal day, and had a hard time doin’ it, so I can’t imagine doin’ it with all the extra,., added by the gas station, so,., I just agreed with everyone else. Thank you
Bill Merna (9361 Hilltop Drive): You know, it ain’t that the people are fightin’, you know,, Circle K,., its just where its gonna be located. If there’s a bigger area where they,., you’d move ‘em into. People would be glad to use ‘em and everything else. It’s just where that location is. So hopefully, you know,., they could stay in the town,., and maybe move further south. And everybody would be glad to use ‘em. Thank you very much.
With no further comment from the floor, Mr. Schneider closed the floor to public comment and brought the matter back to the board. Mr. Schneider offered the petitioner to come back to the podium.
Mr. Weiser wanted to make a personal comment. Mr. Snyder got up first and said that I had insulted the Board, and if I did that I certainly apologize. That is not my style and that is not what I do. What I said, and he clearly misunderstood what I said. What I said was “not that the Overlay District was a joke, or was not appropriate”. What I said was “as it related to the 15,000 square foot minimum building, it was really a stretch”, I was speaking specifically to that one issue of the Overlay District. I would not want that someone would say that I insulted a Board that I have to appear before, any more than if I were in Court and someone told me I insulted a judge. Because that is how you act and that is how I act, and we always do it respectfully.
Mr. Weiser stated that obviously the comments made, and he respects the opinions of those in attendance. They are legitimate opinions, every one of them. There was not one that in his opinion was mean-spirited, they have legitimate concerns, and I appreciate that. But their concerns and their opinions are just that, concerns and opinions. They are not evidence. They’re not facts. They are their opinions and they are entitled to them. Still, it is our opinion that the traffic at 93rd and 41 is there. It is there whether Circle K is there or whether Circle K is not there. People have spoken to, they have all talked about how it backs up, the trains, how it backs up, the potential impact it may have on emergency vehicles. Mr. Weiser pointed out that the traffic exists now. It is not something that they will exacerbate; again, we are the beneficiaries of traffic and not the creators of traffic.
Mr. Weiser stated that the last thing is his client thinks that this is a great community to be in. It is a great community for their business to be in, and it a great community because of the kind of folks that live here and the kind of community that you have.
Mr. Weiser pointed that the challenge is if they were to go anywhere else, between 85th and Route 231, all the same rules apply. All the same rules that they cannot meet. In addition, maybe someone would look at it differently if it were at a different location. But the same overlay rules apply. The Overlay District applies, you cannot deny that. There was an interesting issue brought up by someone in regards to the landscape requirements. I just want to point out that we’re actually asking for less than the town requires, and that is what we’re asking for in many instances. In the town, the town requires many more plantings and many more screenings, and larger trees, and larger bushes along 41 and 93rd. It just doesn’t make any sense, in regards to that landscaping portion.
Mr. Schneider asked if there were any further questions from the board.
Mr. Williams asked that if they gave an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council, they could still disagree or agree, however, we would still have to address the remainder of the variances being sought. Mr. Schneider advised that is correct.
Mr. Austgen advised that it is probable that your recommendation on the Special Exception will be contingent upon, or conditioned upon what you decide on all the other items. Mr. Austgen advised it is all tied together.
Mr. Schneider requested that they put the Special Exception aside and address Item 2: Off Site Signage. Mr. Panczuk stated that he did not think that there was a particular hardship. Mr. Panczuk felt that the regular travelers of U.S. 41 would see it at their first pass and get to know right away where to turn. Mr. Schneider asked Mr. Williams if he knew what the thoughts were on this sign issue with the Plan Commission, since he sits on that board also. Mr. Williams advised it has been some time and he did not recall. Mr. Eberly advised that it pre-dates his employment, and cannot speak on the sign issue.
Mr. Williams and Mr. Panczuk agreed on the sign issue, noting that the intersection would be well known to the area, and also that the canopy would also be a form of sign. Mr. Kennedy advised that since they have an agreement with the bank to have a sign there, he thinks it is an appropriate place for a sign.
Mr. Schneider advised that since they will take them one at a time, he will entertain a motion for:
· Variance Item 2: Off-Site Sign Variance, per Chapter 15 C.9.
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve the Off-Site Sign variance per Chapter 15 C.9, and incorporating the findings of facts into the motion. Mr. Schneider seconded the motion. Motion defeated 3 nays – 2 ayes.
Mr. Panczuk made a motion to deny the Off-Site variance per Chapter 15 C.9, incorporating the findings of fact into the motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Williams. Motion carried by 3 ayes – 2 nays.
· Variance Item 6: Building Size Variance
Mr. Schneider advised this is in regards to the Overlay District requiring a 15,000 square foot building, and felt that it should not apply here, and would only comply if it were a multi-story building. Mr. Williams also stated that he could not see a 15,000 square foot building existing on this parcel, it does not make sense. Mr. Panczuk also commented that on the building size that the practical use of the property would require a smaller building, but any motion he would make would be contingent only to this particular proposal.
Mr. Williams made a motion to approve the Building Size Variance, and referencing the findings of facts into the motion, and contingent on this specific project for Circle K. Motion seconded by Mr. Kennedy. Motion carried 4 ayes – 1 nays.
· Variance Item 7: Bicycle / Pedestrian Access Variance
Mr. Eberly clarified that the Bicycle / Pedestrian Pathway would have to go “through” the development that is the language of the ordinance and this would be around the perimeter. Discussion ensued amongst the board members as to the specifics that the ordinance mandates.
Mr. Williams made a motion to approve the Bicycle / Pedestrian Access Variance, and referencing the findings of facts into the motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Panczuk. Motion carried 3 ayes – 2 nays.
Mr. Eberly advised that with speaking here with Mr. Austgen, since you denied the first variance that you will have to address Item 5: the Lot Size variance.
· Variance Item 8: Front Yard Parking Variance – Per Chapter 11 C.3 (M).
Mr. Panczuk believes that it does not attempt to even to attempt the spirit of the Overlay District, and it gives you very little to work with. Mr. Panczuk advised that he has been paying attention for four months on Circle K’s in the area, and their curb appeal and landscaping. Mr. Panczuk stated that the spirit of the ordinance is to not make 41 look like a parking lot, and he feels that nothing creative has been done here. Discussion ensued amongst the board on the topic.
Mr. Williams made a motion to deny the Front Yard Parking Variance, and referencing the findings of facts into the motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Panczuk, and add that this is contingent on this particular proposal. Motion carried 3 ayes – 2 nays.
· Variance Item 9: Landscape Variances – Numerous – Based on Entirety
Mr. Schneider advised that in regards to the Landscape variance that they do not have what each one is. Mr. Eberly advised that it would be his recommendation that you either approve the list as provided or deny the list as provided by the petitioner. Rather than try to take each one of those eighteen or twenty items individually. Mr. Eberly advised that they do have the list, and they could do it one at a time, but his recommendation is take it as a whole. Mr. Austgen asked if there is a list succinctly enough so it can be read and then an action can be taken on the entirety of that list. Mr. Austgen advised that would be his recommendation for record purposes. Mr. Eberly advised that he is placing the listing on the meeting room screen for those in the audience.
Mr. Austgen suggested to the Chairman that the list be read into the record for the motion maker.
Mr. Panczuk advised that he was going to start reading first before any motion is made, and then can we make a motion referencing what has been read. Mr. Austgen advised that would be appropriate.
Mr. Panczuk read list:
Section F Screening Requirements
F.4 – All tree and shrubs be planted a minimum of 5’ behind the right-of-way.
Insufficient area on portion of US 41 and entire length of 93rd Street. Variance required.
F.5 – Landscaping and Screening
a) In all Zoning District, all developed uses shall provide a green or landscaped yard along all streets. Such yard shall be kept clear of all structures and storage. Such yard shall be at least eight (8) feet in depth along all streets measured from the street right-of-way. Except for driveways, the yard shall extend the entire footage of the lot and along both streets in the case of a corner lot.
Portion of yard along US 41 is less than 3’ in width; Entire yard along 93rd Street is less than 8’ in width. Variance required.
Section I Buffer Yard Landscape Requirements
I.2 – Side and Rear Landscaped Yards
A landscaped and maintained yard area shall be provided, including a solid visual buffer or screen of at least five (5) feet in height. The width shall be as follows:
c) Next to Commercial zoning districts or Developments: Fifteen (15) feet.
Portion of rear yard if only 4’ in width. No side yard on south end of property as driveway is shared. Variance required.
Section O Highway 41 Overlay District Landscaping Standards
O-1 – Greenbelt
a) The greenbelt along U.S. Highway 41 shall be a minimum of thirty (30) feet in width and landscaped per the requirements of this Section O.
Greenbelt along U.S. 41 is 10’ in width at widest point. Variance required.
c) A Base-planting unit for each one hundred (100) linear foot increment of the Greenbelt shall be required as follows:
i). Five (5) shade trees;
ii). Three (3) ornamental trees; and
iii). Fifteen (15) shrubs or three (3) evergreen trees
2 shade trees, 0 ornamental trees, and 37 shrubs provided. Variance required.
O-2 – Planting Strip
a) A planting strip with a minimum width of ten (10) feet shall be provided adjacent to any Collector or Arterial Street or Parkway right-of-way within the U.S. 41 Highway Overlay District.
Insufficient area. Variance required.
b) Adjacent to an Entry Drive: Minimum width ten (10) feet.
Insufficient area. Variance required.
d) The base planting unit for planting strips shall be as follows:
i) Adjacent to Parallel Collector, Arterial Roadways, and
Adjacent to entry drives: For each one hundred (100) linear foot increment:
(1) Three (3) shade trees;
(2) Two (2) ornamental trees, and
(3) Ten (10) shrubs.
3 shade trees, 0 ornamental trees, and 36 shrubs provided. Variance required.
O-3 – Planting Adjacent to Buildings along U.S. 41 Highway
a) A planting area equal to an area measuring twenty-five (25) feet in depth by the width of the front of the building plus twenty (20) feet (to extend ten (10) feet out on both sides) shall be installed along building facades that face U.S. 41 Highway.
Insufficient area to fulfill requirements. Variance required.
b) A planting area equal to an area then (10) feet in depth by the remaining sides of the building shall be installed on all other sides of the building(s).
Planting area provided on south and east sides of the building are only 2.5’ in width. Plantings totally 51 shrubs and 8 small evergreen trees are provided in this area. Variance required.
O-7 – Total Landscaping Required
Inclusive of the Greenbelt, the planting adjacent to the buildings, the Greenbelt Buffers, planting strip, and the planting within parking lots, a minimum of fifteen percent (15%) of the project shall be landscaped.
15% of the project area is 9,101.25 sq. ft. Total landscaped area is 7,162 sq. ft. Variance required.Section P Parking Lot Requirements
P-1 – Parking Lot Perimeter
All parking lots, including parking spaces, interior drives, and loading/unloading areas, shall be separated from all Thoroughfare Plan recommended street rights-of-way by a landscaping area that is a minimum of ten feet (10’) in width. The landscape area shall be planted either of the following options or a combination of both:
a) Trees and shrubs: A minimum of one (1) tree shall be provided for every 250 square feet of landscaped area. The trees may be a combination of deciduous, evergreen, and ornamental trees. In addition, a minimum of one (1) shrub shall be provided every 100 square feet of landscaped area.
Insufficient area to fulfill code. Variance required.
b) Landscape berm: A landscaped berm that is a minimum of three (3) feet in height shall be provided along the length of the landscaped area. A minimum of one (1) shrub shall be provided for every five (5) linear feet of berm.
Insufficient area to fulfill code. Variance required.
P-2 – Parking Lot Interior requirements
No interior parking lot landscaping is provided due to insufficient area on site. Variance required.
Mr. Panczuk wanted to voice his opinion that the lot size is not nearly big enough to provide anything close to our ordinance, some of these he could agree with, but a lot of those are important.
Mr. Williams made a motion to deny the Landscaping Variances, and referencing the findings of facts into the motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Panczuk. Mr. Austgen requested that the findings of fact be read out entirely for this motion. Mr. Williams stated in referencing the findings of facts: Approval will be injurious to public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare of the community. Use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will be affected in a substantially adverse manner. That strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will not result in practical difficulties in the use of the property. Motion carried 3 ayes – 2 nays.
Mr. Schneider advised that the last developmental/technical item would be the Lot Size Variance. Since we have a denial of several of the developmental items, this now becomes an item of contention.
· Variance Item 5: Lot Size Variance Section 8.4 E (3)
Mr. Williams stated that he felt that Mr. Panczuk’s concerns go directly into this item. General discussion ensued in regards to the Overlay District, lot sizes and conformance with same. Mr. Panczuk also questioned the role of the bank who owns the parcel. Mr. Austgen explained that they are not part of the petitioner’s request in this particular matter, and stated that there is no legal definition of what Mr. Panczuk was relating to.
Mr. Williams made a motion to deny the Lot Size Variance, Section 8.4 E (3). Mr. Williams stated in referencing the findings of facts: Approval will be injurious to public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare of the community. Use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will be affected in a substantially adverse manner. That strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will not result in practical difficulties in the use of the property. Motion seconded by Mr. Ryan. Motion carried 5 ayes.
· Variance Item 1: Special Exception Chapter 3.E Schedule of Uses
Mr. Austgen stated that this should make the special exception recommendation pretty easy.
Mr. Schneider entertained a motion for a Favorable, Unfavorable, or No Recommendation to the Town Council for the exception to operate an Automobile Service Station per Chapter 3.E Schedule of Uses. Mr. Austgen requested that the findings of fact be read in their entirety as listed in Section 18 B (6) (b).
Mr. Williams make an Unfavorable Recommendation to the Town Council for Special Exception to Operate an Automobile Service Station per Chapter 3.E Schedule of Uses. Again, specific to what has been presented this evening, and referencing the following findings of fact:
That the establishment, maintenance, or operation of the Special Exception will be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare;
That the Special Exception will be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the purposes already permitted, and substantially diminish and impair property value within the neighborhood;
That the establishment of the Special Exception will impede the normal and orderly development and improvement of the surrounding property for uses permitted in the district;
That adequate utilities, access road, drainage and/or necessary facilities will be provided;
That adequate measure will not be taken to provide ingress and egress so designed as to minimize traffic congestion in the public streets;
That the Special Exception will not, in all other respects, conform to the applicable regulations of the Zoning District in which it is located;
Mr. Panczuk seconded the Unfavorable Recommendation to the Town Council. Motion carried by 5 ayes – 0 nays.
Mr. Schneider noted that this will go to the Town Council for their final action at their March 23, meeting.
E. BZA – RULES AND REGULATIONS (Mr. David Austgen and Mr. Rick Eberly)
Mr. Austgen advised that the board members have been given a draft of amended Rules and Regulations of the Board of Zoning Appeals for their review and comments.
Mr. Schneider entertained a motion to adjourn. Mr. Williams made a motion to adjourn. Motion seconded by Mr. Kennedy. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.
(The meeting was adjourned at 12:04 a.m.)
Michelle L. Haluska, Recording Secretary pro-tem
St. John Board of Zoning Appeals