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April 1, 2015 Plan Commission Minutes

Michael Forbes, PresidentStephen Kil, Town Manager
Gregory Volk, Vice-PresidentSteve Kil
Steve Kozel, Secretary 
Tom Redar 
Derwin Nietzel 
Stephen Hastings 


Mr. Michael Forbes called to order the St. John Plan Commission Regular Meeting on April 1, 2015 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 Chairman Mike Forbes. Commissioners present: Michael Forbes, Stephen Hastings, Tom Redar, Steve Kozel, Derwin Nietzel. Staff present: Kenn Kraus, Stephen Kil. Absent: Gregory Volk.


The minutes of March 4, 2015. Mr. Forbes entertained a motion. Mr. Kozel motioned that the board approve the March 4, 2015 minutes as submitted. Motion seconded by Mr. Hastings. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.


There was no New Business before the Board.


A. CONDOR ESTATES – Request for Public Hearing – One Lot Subdivision

Mr. Forbes advised the first agenda is Condor Estates, request for public hearing on a one-lot subdivision. Mr. Forbes advised that if the board members recall, this is located on 85th Avenue, where the Petitioner is looking to combine lots into one, so that he can build another home.

With no questions or comments from the board members, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to authorize permission for public hearing at our next meeting on May 6, 2015. Motion made by Mr. Redar. Motion seconded by Mr. Nietzel. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.

B. SILVERLEAF – PHASE TWO – Request for Reduction of Letter of Credit

Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is for Silverleaf – Phase Two, request for a letter of credit reduction.

Mr. Forbes advised that he has a letter from Mr. Kraus recommending that the Letter of Credit be reduced from $1,015,963.33 to $894,083.33. Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments from the board.

Hearing none, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to make a recommendation to the Town Council to accept the revised Letter of Credit. Mr. Kozel made a motion to make a recommendation to the Town Council to accept that Letter of Credit. Motion seconded by Mr. Redar. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.


A. ROSE GARDEN – Preliminary Approval (Mr. Brandon Ramondi)

Mr. Forbes advised the next item on the agenda is a public hearing for Rose Garden – preliminary plat approval by a Mr. Brandon Ramondi. Mr. Forbes advised that before we start, Mr. Kil was asked if all the proofs of publication were in order. Mr. Kil advised that they were.

Mr. Doug Rettig of Land Technologies introduced himself to the board members, and advised he is the project engineer, and also with him is Brandon Ramondi, and we are here for Rose Garden Addition.

Mr. Rettig advised that this is a ten (10) lot subdivision to be platted immediately West of what is known as Willow Ridge Manor, or basically Willow Ridge Manor – Phase Two. Mr. Rettig advised that it is on the West side of Parrish Avenue and South of 89th Avenue. Currently the entrance into Willow Ridge is right here (directed their attention to the meeting room screen), and is what we would classify as a three-way intersection right now, and this street presently does not fully exist. Mr. Rettig advised that a small portion was put in for the corner lot, and a partial street put in here that the balance of the street has never been done.

Mr. Rettig directed the members attention to an existing water main already in place, so we will not be putting in any new water main. Mr. Rettig advised they will be bringing in water services in for all ten (10) lots. Mr. Rettig advised that there is a sanitary sewer existing, basically on the South paat, that services existing homes in Willow Ridge Manor – Phase Two. We will be extending that across the street and North to service the remaining lots that are not served right now. Mr. Rettig advised for storm sewer they have a similar situation, there is a high point through this property (he pointed to meeting room screen), that is the two water sheds.

Mr. Rettig directed their attention to the highest ground shown on the drawing, and advised that there is a culvert underneath 89th Avenue where there is a low spot in the road; and there are some small wetland areas associated with this are up in the drawing. Mr. Rettig advised that they have had a wetland delineation done and they are losing just a corner of the one lot.

Mr. Rettig advised that there are some wetland issues down to these two couple of lots; which we are addressing with our wetland consultant, but we are getting a permit to fill a little bit of wetlands (shown in screen), to make those viable lots, but leave all the wetlands in back intact. There is also a waterway through the wetlands and we are leaving that all alone.

Mr. Rettig advised that basically all the water drains to this existing pond which drains through our site, and ultimately to the pond in Willow Ridge Manor. That drains into a 24” storm sewer that is already in place. Mr. Rettig advised that they really are not altering anything out there; storm drainage.

Mr. Rettig advised that it is pretty much a straight forward project. There is a little bit of elevation change, which is evident when you drive out there along side the road here. They started building this road several years ago, and never were able to acquire this extra property. There is some dirt work, having to push down the hill there and put in the new storm sewer and then grade those lots out a little bit further.

Mr. Redar asked about the drainage down at the South end; so once it gets away from Lot 10, what direction does it head. Mr. Rettig advised East, underneath the road that is not built yet, it will go underneath Parrish. Mr. Rettig advised that there is a 24” pipe in place, under just South of where the road ends, and that picks up a little catch basin on the West side, and then it dumps into a 24” pipe which goes to the Willow Ridge pond.

General discussion ensued as to the drainage course of several storm sewer pipes in the area.

Mr. Forbes advised that this is a public hearing and he is opening the floor to the public. Please step to the podium and stated your name and address for the record please.

Rodney Mills (9551 Highland Court):

I wanted to know if those home were going to be annexed in to our covenants. Mr. Mills stated that water mains are on the other side. And that would impact them and there are some jerks out there and that is his only concern.

Mr. Rettig advised that they will probably do the same type of covenants; there are only two points where the main is behind the sidewalk, everywhere else it is located in the easement and we want to have as little disruption to the existing residents as possible.

Rich Bisaga (9149 Deodor Street):

So, what about the property South the creek.

Mr. Rettig, we do not own that, and is not part of the property.

Ken Schneider (9001 Parrish Avenue):

I have a couple of questions of open cuts on the street, are there any, or are to going to pull into that sanitary.

Mr. Rettig, asked if he was talking about Parrish Avenue, and advised yes for the sewer and water services. He further advised that would be “bored”, and they would be bringing sanitary to the other side of the road, and to the North.

With no further public comment, Mr. Forbes closed the floor to public comment and brought the matter back to the board.

Mr. Redar asked about the grading plan; are all of these lots exclusively going to be built on by you guys, are you opening these lots up to other builders as well? (Unknown: We are considering selling about five of them). Mr. Redar stated that his main concern is elevations here and when Mr. Rettig did the plan, he was very specific to show where the garage was to be placed, and we don’t need to vary from that, because it is going to create a problem. Mr. Redar stated that he understands that you build a house for a client and they don’t like the way things are rotated; but, I think if they vary from this grading plan there is going to be some elevation issues here.

Mr. Kraus stated that they also discussed at the last meeting where the set-back line should be, and they have shown a 30’ set-back, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t set a house like 40’ back in case there is a big differential between the street elevation where the garage floor needs to be, cause we can’t go over the ten percent slope on that driveway.

Mr. Kraus advised that he talked to Mr. Rettig about maybe showing 40’; but there are house designs that can take that into account, and actually have steps from the garage into the house. Then you wouldn’t need to set the house that far back. Mr. Kraus stated that is why he went with the 30’ that is required by our ordinance.

Mr. Redar noted that if you look at these elevations, you are pretty much 2’, give or take a little bit, above the curb, which is what our ordinance says; just so they don’t get carried away.

Mr. Rettig advised that there would probably be custom homes, where the garages would be kept on the high side.

Mr. Kil stated that he thinks what Mr. Redar is looking for, is he wants for them to sit here and say “they will follow the plan and keep the garages on the high side of the lot”. [Laughter], that is what he is looking for them to say, so just say it so there is no arguing when the plats of survey come in, and we are fighting with grades.

Mr. Forbes stated he thought that we were looking for something on the final plat, just to lock that in, right? Mr. Kil advised that they are going to lock it in right here, because sometimes there are homeowners and they will want to flip a house, well we are not going to be flipping these houses. We are going to put the garage on the high side of the lot where it is supposed to be, and I’m not going to fight these elevations, like Lake Hills is a classic example. But, you have no choice there, it’s rolling. Mr. Rettig went to great pains to decide where to set the grade, set the foundation, set the finish grades, and we need to follow it.

Mr. Rettig advised that he thinks it is pretty clear. Mr. Kil stated “let the record reflect that they said that”.

Mr. Nietzel asked if we are going to widen the intersection of Parrish and 89th, in other words, the inner side or the outer side of that radius. Mr. Kil advised that would be straightened out. Mr. Rettig advised that would is corrected and curbed.

Mr. Redar asked about street lighting. Mr. Rettig advised they will be placed, so that it complies with the ordinance.

Mr. Forbes advised that if there is no further discussion he would entertain a motion, to approve Preliminary Plat for Rose Garden, and include the findings of fact by reference. Mr. Hastings made a motion to approve Preliminary Plat approval and incorporating the findings of fact. Motion seconded by Mr. Redar. Motion carried 6 ayes – 0 nays.


Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kil noted that there was no public comment; however, there was still an issue to discuss amongst the board members.


Mr. Kil advised the board members that they have something brand new that is “hot off the press here”. Mr. Kil advisd that he was approached by Mr. Bruce Boyer and Mr. James Buchanan and his brother Richard.

Mr. Kil advised that the board members will recognize this parcel here (shown on meeting room screen), which will explain exactly what it is. Mr. Kil advised that 96th Avenue, as you can see U.S. 41 on the left side of the drawing, and Joliet Street up in the right hand corner. Basically this is the old Standard Lumber building where Rascals is at.

Mr. Kil advised that they are proposing a new development in that entire area shown. There would be a road tied into Joliet Street that would intersect with 96th Avenue on the highway; and we would install a traffic light there. Mr. Kil advised that you can see all the nice retail that is planned; and that this is going to be a work in progress, but it is going to be coming in front of the board members probably in short order.

Mr. Kil advised that in his discussions, you will notice that road cut on Joliet Street, how close it is to the railroad tracks. Mr. Kil stated that they are going to propose moving this road cut; to the West, along Joliet Street, closer to U.S. 41. This piece of property to the left right here (shown on screen), is vacant, and they are looking to put a traffic circle on Joliet Street, which would lead back into this development, and then intersect with 96th on the highway.

Mr. Kil advised that what would happen is, that we would end up closing off all left-turns on Joliet Street right now. There would be no left turn off the highway, there is going to be no left turn off of Joliet Street. If you want to access U.S. 41, if you are coming from the East, you would cross the tracks, hit the traffic circle, come down around this road through this development to a “controlled traffic light”. This is because everybody knows that right now it is a mess. Every time you are behind someone on U.S. 41, someone is always turning onto Joliet Street, and it backs up all the traffic on the highway.

Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kil commented there are a ton of accidents at that location.

Mr. Kil continued that Joliet Street is going to be a two-way road, we are just going to eliminate all the left-turns at Route 41, so if you think about it, you will have a minimal amount of traffic. You are going to have a traffic circle with flow coming from Crown Point from the East, around the traffic circle out, and you are going to have the same way going back. Very rarely are you going to have a car that is going to come up Joliet Street, because you have very limited business there, and homes.

Mr. Kil advised that for the primary flow of traffic, the traffic circle is going to work out perfectly, because you have to keep traffic going, you can’t have a stop sign, where you would have traffic back up over the tracks. It has to keep flowing, so that would be a really good application for it.

Mr. Kil advised that this further encompasses, on the South side of this drawing, the old Car Wash building, and the old house that is there. And the only piece pf property between that and the frontage road behind Eenigenburg Water, is Al’s Auto Body. Mr. Kil advised that he went and looked at the location today, that road could easily connect right through Al’s, right into the Stracks and Target development, which would give us our whole frontage road system along the highway, that we have been planning.

Mr. Kil advised that this is something that is coming. This is their first shot at it. He (Mr. Boyer) has some work to do and I want a detail on the South side, where they are going to tie into Stracks and Target. I want a detail on the intersection improvement at Route 41 and 96th. And they are going to research moving the road up Joliet Street, and I told them I want a detail on a traffic circle before he brings that in front of the board members. Mr. Kil advised that he wants the members to see everything.

Mr. Kraus asked what is across the street on Joliet. Mr. Kil advised just some homes. Mr. Kraus asked if they will need to buy some more right-of-way in order to put the traffic circle in on that side.

Mr. Kil advised there is going to have to be some property acquisition, yes. This is a TIF District, and they are discussing doing a TIF project with the Town. Mr. Kil advised that he has not gotten those details yet, but we are going to have to buy properties.

Mr. Redar asked if this was a round-about like Schererville did at Cline and Rohrman Road. Mr. Kil stated he is actually looking to mirroring the one in Weston Ridge. A big round-about, with two lanes of traffic. Mr. Kil advised that Schererville’s works great; they were confined by geography there. I think if the property is purchased correctly, we do not necessarily have to have a dead space in the center of it, although that is kind of like a focal point, and a little clock tower would not look bad there. Mr. Redar stated that he liked the idea.

Mr. Kil advised that he has to get it all straightened out here before it is even brought before the board members and start spending a lot of time in meetings, and I don’t want to waste time at a meeting, I want it to be productive time. Mr. Kil advised that when they get a little bit farther along, I will probably pull Mr. Kraus into a staff meeting and we will go through all the particulars of this.

I believe the outlet for the detention is at the South end of the property right now, and that eventually goes down to Stracks and Target, hooks up with the St. John Ditch, flows through that big-box culvert that they installed. And then that intersects with the Bull Run Ditch down South.

Mr. Kil reiterated this is only a conceptual site plan, which looks really nice, I love the way they laid it out. They know about all the things that we have discussed at length. But this is going to be a really exciting project that is going to be coming in front of us. A lot of retail, restaurants and everything we have been wanting. It is a miniature version of the “Shops on Main” up in Schererville.

Mr. Kozel asked if we are looking at the design of this so there is enough traffic that it can handle the flow.

Russ Pariols (9383 West 89th Avenue): [can I say something?]

You are talking about Boyer Construction and commercial retail. Please be keen on how the traffic is affected and the design and flows, because I go past the one in Munster and it is “F’d up”, and there’s accidents on Calumet Avenue at least once a week, because of the way they designed the project and it horrible, and I know they had limited space to do it with, but I.,.

Mr. Kil advised that they do not have limited space to make this work. And this is why when we had a staff meeting, we are not going to tie it into Joliet Street at a round-about, tie into a light at U.S. 41, he is tying it into the frontage road system to go South into Stracks and Target also. So there will be a lot of flow around this site, but that is what will be coming before the Plan Commission. We will be spending “countless” meetings on this project.

(People talking in the background – inaudible, Mr. Kil and Mr. Forbes were trying to answer)

Mr. Kil stated to the aforementioned, “then you can appreciate them stopping left turns onto U.S. 41 from Joliet, that’s a nightmare”. Mr. Kil reiterated to someone in the audience that they (Plan Commission) will make it so difficult to get around that turn at Joliet Street, and I don’t know exactly in my head what it is going to look like yet, but when it is designed, but I want it designed so there is no chance in hell that “anybody” can violate, they would have to make a “U-turn” on U.S. 41 and come North in order to get into it.

Mr. Kil advised that a good portion of this project is a whole new design at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Joliet Street; and the whole design of the traffic circle; a whole design at the light. There is a whole bunch of designs going on all at one time, which is going into play at this development.

But I am like you (unknown), I want to stop every single,., I don’t even want a chance that they will be doing it. They will have to see almost a barrier wall in front of them.

Mr. Kil came back to the board members and advised that he has discussed this with Mr. Forbes and wanted them aware of this development; it is not even a day old, as it just came in the door.

Mr. Kil stated he thought this is a development that they have been waiting for and you will notice that on the other side of the road, there is that frontage road system, so you can access all that area from the frontage road, including Community Outpatient Center, Chase Bank, and the old K-Mart. That traffic signal will function to service the West side.

Mr. Redar asked if they are proposing anything for the old Standard Lumber building. Mr. Kil advised that everything would be torn down. They are knocking everything down; the old house, the car wash. Mr. Redar stated it is about time and he liked that.

Mr. Kil advised he did a site inspection and there is plenty of room for the access road to go behind Al’s Auto Body as well.

(Audience member asked about the Craft Beer place)

Mr. Kil advised that they will be building a new place for St. John Malt Brothers, and they have spoken to Mr. Jim Estry, the owner, and having a real nice outside seating area. Mr. Estry is going to be incorporated into this development.

Mr. Forbes advised that everyone in that building right now knows that they are on short term leases. Mr. Kil advised when talking to Mr. Jim Estry it was understood that everything can be re-located to a nicer facility.

Mr. Redar asked about the building that Redbud is using. Mr. Kil advised that will all be gone. This includes; Rascals, the old car wash, the house south of the car wash building. This project will clear it all out and will put all new brick buildings in.

Mr. Kil reminded that the buildings for the “Shop on Main” in Schererville; they will be doing that kind of construction, but on a smaller scale, but it will be the same type of construction.

Mr. Nietzel said he doesn’t know how a round-about is going to work on Joliet, unless it is absolutely huge, because you have a lot of semis. Mr. Kil stated that is why he wants one that is like Weston Ridge’s. Mr. Nietzel is also concerned about snow-plowing.

Mr. Kil advised that he is getting the geometry from Landmark on the Weston Ridge round-about; that is easy to plow.

Mr. Nietzel commented that he thinks Schererville has already experienced that with the new one they put in on Cline Avenue, where the road is not wide enough for plows and trucks to make those radius’s, especially if a semi is coming out of Industrial Drive, crossing the tracks and having to come back because he has to make a left hand turn on U.S. 41, he’s gonna have to go three-quarters of the way around that round-about, and with his trailer being 50’ long, his back tandems are way up into the median.

Mr. Kil advised that is why we will need a dual-lane round-about. Mr. Forbes advised that we have revised our design.

Mr. Nietzel then commented on the “pork-chop” at Joliet and U.S. 41. Mr. Kil reminded Mr. Nietzel that the trucks will be limited to go North, they will not be allowed to go South. Mr. Kil advised that a truck that wants to go southbound, they will be directed, they will have to go to this light.

General discussion ensued. Mr. Kil reminded the board members that “nothing is designed”. This is all conceptual, and it all has to come in front of the Plan Commission.

Mr. Kil stated that Mr. Forbes just wanted the members to see the basic concept plan, just to give you an idea of what is coming, so you have something to look forward to.

Mr. Kil reminded that they will have to engineer those and run the auto-turn program, and make accommodations for everything.

Discussion ensued toward storm water and surface water of the older sections that lay southwest of the Joliet Street and the railroad tracks. Mr. Kil brought their attention to the giant retention pond that the project will be placing, and noted that Mr. Kraus will have his work to do.

Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kil commented that they have requested a wet-pond with fountains and all the amenities to make it look as best as possible.

With no further comment or questions from the board members, Mr. Forbes entertained a motion to adjourn. Motion made by Mr. Kozel. Motion seconded by Mr. Hastings. Motion carried 5 ayes – 0 nays.

(The meeting was adjourned at 7:52 p.m.)

Respectfully submitted,

Michelle L. Haluska, Recording Secretary pro-tem
St. John Plan Commission