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February 17, 2016 Plan Commission Minutes

Michael Forbes, PresidentStephen Kil, Town Manager
Gregory Volk, Vice-PresidentKenn Kraus, Town Engineer
Steve Kozel, SecretaryDavid Austgen, Town Attorney
Jim MaciejewskiMichael Muenich, Town Attorney
Jon Gill 
Jason Williams 
Bob Birlson 

Mr. Michael Forbes called to order the St. John Plan Commission Study Session on February 17, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Roll call was taken by Susan Wright, Recording Secretary, with the following Commissioners present: Michael Forbes, Steve Kozel, Jon Gill, Bob Birlson, Jason Williams, Greg Volk. Staff present: Kenn Kraus, Stephen Kil. Absent: James Maciejewski.

A. CROWN POINT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL – Review and Discussion of Site Plan Approval (Mr. Jack Huls)

Mr. Forbes advised the first agenda item is Crown Point Christian School, and asked if a representative could come before the podium. With no one stepping forward, Mr. Kil advised he could update the board on what they are wanting to do.

Mr. Kil advised that the school itself is located in The Gates, (he displayed the site plan on the meeting room screen). The top section on the school is where they want to build the classrooms, so it would be the north part of the school. As you may recall, the southern part was the last addition that they did, of classrooms. They need to do a second addition, which as you will notice they have plenty of room on their site, they are by no means encroaching anywhere. That is what they want to do for site plan approval. And the structure would be like and kind to what is already there right now.

Mr. Forbes commented he thought it was five (5) classrooms and two (2) bathrooms. Mr. Forbes thought the rendition was pretty straight forward. Mr. Forbes asked the board members if they had any questions.

Hearing none, Mr. Forbes noted that this will be on the March 2, 2016 Plan Commission agenda.

A. THE GATES OF ST. JOHN – UNIT 10 I – Review of Subdivision Plan

Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is under Old Business and is The Gates of St. John – Unit 10 I, this is a review of the subdivision plan.

Again, no one came before the podium, so Mr. Kil briefly updated what information is available. Mr. Kil stated that this was just in front of you guys. He is going to come back with the side areas redrawn, so that the side yards meet the requirements that you had questions about. Last time with the minimum of seven foot (7’), which is consistent with the other part of the development. That is what he is in the process of doing right now. Other than that, it is the exact same layout.

Mr. Birlson asked what the width of the lots. Mr. Kil advised 84’. Mr. Forbes stated on the West side they are 80’, and asked is that going to be adjusted.

Mr. Forbes asked for any questions or comments from the board. Is everyone okay with putting this on the agenda. Mr. Kil reminded Mr. Forbes that he requested that Final Plat approval be given, contingent upon the Town Council granting the zoning approval. So, obviously he is going to have final drawings to us at that point.

B. GREYSTONE – Review of Proposed Development Plan (Mr. Jack Slager)

Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is Greystone.

Mr. Jack Slager of Schilling Development introduced himself to the board. Mr. Slager said he wanted to come here tonight to talk about the Greystone project. Several of you are very familiar with this, we have been in many times, but I really want to bring it at a Study Session tonight to update the new members, and kind of tell you where we have been and where we are going with this development, so you can become familiar with it also.

The Greystone property is 113 acres trisected by Calumet Avenue, between 101st Avenue and 109th. The timeline is kind of small there, but I wanted to go all the way back. We purchased the property back in 2006. We are actually a minority partner in a group that purchased this property. In 2008, the Town of Dyer passed an ordinance annexing the property, and the same year we requested annexation in to the Town of St. John. That ended up being a big legal battle, and we were actually annexed in to the Town of St. John in 2009, and it was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2010, some of you will remember that issue.

So in November of 2013, we brought this site before the Plan Commission at a Study Session and started to look at how we could develop both sides of Calumet Avenue. Some of the challenges to this site, these white lines shown are pipelines. There are a set of pipelines that angles through the property like this. There is another set of pipelines that comes through the property here, and a third set that comes through here, and then there are a set of high tension election lines that runs to the North of the property. Then of course you have Calumet Avenue bisecting the property north and south. This will be 101st Avenue on the North, and of course 109th is down off the screen. The yellow line shows the current town boundary of St. John, how it runs around. We have The Emerald Crossing development to the West, which is unincorporated Lake County. There’s Saddle Creek and Silver Leaf to the East, also bisected by the pipelines.

So we started coming in 2013, continued into 2014, attended numerous study sessions, regular plan commission meetings. We were tweaking the plan at that time. This is actually an older development plan, I will show you the new version. The Plan Commission had a lot of input; the staff had input, and so this layout has been modified over time as we went through these meetings. And we listened to the public and the Plan Commission; we came up with some better ideas.

We got to about May of 2014, and at that point the Town started talking about an upgrade for Lift Station One. That was in early 2014, that was something in the process, and basically we decided at that point that we were going to wait until the sewers were available for this site. Otherwise there was no point in continuing on, there was no sewer availability.

So then in 2015, we came back with the revised version which I will show you in a minute. November we requested permission to advertise for a zone change. In December we held the Public Hearing for the Zone Change, and were granted the zone change, based on our new layout, so now we are here at a Plan Commission Study Session. The engineering, we’re basically at this point going to concentrate on everything on the East side of Calumet Avenue.

The engineering for this site has been completed, it’s been submitted to Mr. Kenn Kraus, he’ll have some time to review that. And we would like to come back in two weeks, at the March2, 2016 meeting, request Permission to Advertise for our public hearing, which would put us at the April 6, 2016 Plan Commission Public Hearing.

This is the final version of the layout based on comments we received, so again you have Calumet Avenue running north and south, you have a main drag running east and west, one main entrance on Calumet Avenue, divided. We will have a tie-in here with Saddle Creek. We will have a tie-in here with Emerald Crossing. We provide stubs to the North, both sides of Calumet Avenue. We provide a stub to the South, and also a stub to the South over here. These are single-family lots, these are cottage homes, these are duplexes and these are professional offices. This part here is a park, there is a bike-path that goes along the park, crosses at the intersection on Calumet Avenue, comes through the property and angles up along here and actually ties into the bike-path that is in Saddle Creek. So that will complete the bike-path system.

Obviously there are a number of detention ponds that will be created, some berming along Calumet Avenue with some heavy landscaping.

So, here is kind of a summary of the East side of Calumet Avenue, along with the engineering, and unfortunately that drawing is not very clear. So, we have 84 single family lots, south of the pipelines; we have 19 duplex lots along Calumet Avenue; we have 39 cottage homes in this area along the retention pond and the pipelines, and there we have four (4) professional office buildings in this area. This community will include parks, walking paths, bike paths, sidewalks and divided entrances, and again we’re utilizing the best engineers and consultants.

Some of the utility aspects of this property, there is an existing 15” sewer in the Saddle Creek Development that’s deep and it’s sized for future expansion, south of our property. We’re going to be running that 15” sewer through our property and at full depth, at full size of 15” and stubbing it out along Calumet Avenue at our Southwest corner. Ultimately, I believe it will be about 25’ deep at that point, which will allow it to continue being extended as development comes further down Calumet Avenue. Ultimately, a new high school potentially further south will be able to tie into it, and there’s enough depth for it to run quite a way. So we’ll be continuing that 15” sewer through our property. There is a 12” water main that the school, on the other side of the street put in previously. We will be extending that, both north and south along Calumet Avenue, so you’ll have the 12” water main loop. We have one big detention pond, and then there is another one here.

The 84 single family homes, this is kind of our concept of what we are envisioning, heavily architectural and landscape requirements, covenants, homeowners’ associations to maintain the entrances. The 19 Duplexes, again heavy architectural and landscape requirements, the craftsmen style and some brick and stone, heavy landscaping. The Cottage Homes, a similar style trying to carry a them through the development, “cottage style”, heavy architectural landscape requirements. The Professional Office buildings, again we received the proper zoning for this last year. This has now come in with a C-1 zoning, so basically allowed uses would be attorneys, dentists, realtors and title companies, etc. We envision a very nice, attractive heavily landscape professional office building.

One of the main concerns we were hearing at the other meetings is the traffic. We enlisted a traffic study for this parcel also, studying Calumet Avenue. We actually received a draft of the traffic study at about 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, so we only briefly went through it. They examined our main entrance at this point, both pre-construction and post-construction, and what the effect will be on Calumet Avenue and the entrances going in and out. One of the surprising things that we saw in the study so far, we asked them for a potential for a round-about here. Being that we control both sides of Calumet Avenue, we have the right-of-way and we have the room to do it. The Town had asked us to look into a round-about at that point, and we were excited about it. However, the traffic study came back and said a round-about would not work at that location, because of the fact that traffic on Calumet Avenue is up to ten times greater than the east-west traffic that would be in and out of this development. There is such an off-set in the volume of east-west versus north-south, that a traffic circle would actually slow Calumet Avenue traffic and be a hindrance.

Their suggestion is to have a future signal at this intersection, to provide left turn lanes in all four directions, which we could do at 75% build-out of the entire development.

We have done all the engineering on the East side of Calumet, and we have to get the water and sewer at this location, so this road would go in, basically we would like to develop the East side, put in all the turn lanes and then as we enter into the West side of Calumet Avenue, we would signalize this intersection, when we are at the 50% stage at that point. As we get the final version of the traffic study we will provide it to the Town.

The plan has been tweaked a bit as it went along, but it was essentially finalized, in order to get the zoning.

Now we are in the second stage, where we are going to ask for plat approval, and that would be just for the East side of Calumet Avenue. We will come in with a first phase of maybe 8 duplexes, 8 cottage homes, and 10 single-family.

Mr. Williams asked what the timing on this. Mr. Slager advised they are on hold until the sewers are available, until Lift Station One is ready, so potentially either late Fall or early Spring of next year. And we are projecting about five years on the East side and five years on the West side of Calumet. I know it’s a big project, it’s potentially a ten-year build-out; starting in 2017.

Mr. Williams stated that in his brief tenure here they have talked a lot about the Preserves, so help me frame it on what we are doing at the Preserves. Mr. Slager discussed the momentum differences between The Preserves as opposed to Greystone. The Preserves has rolling hill areas and Greystone is all cornfields. Greystone is targeting the $350,000.00 to $450,000.00 mark, whereas The Preserves will probably be $450,00.00 and up.

Mr. Williams asked if the traffic study took into account The Preserves. Mr. Slager advised absolutely, it is the same engineering company doing both. They also studied the intersection of 101st and Calumet, and they advised it is over capacity right now. According to that study that intersection warrants a traffic signal now.

Mr. Kozel asked for the total number of Cottage Homes. Mr. Slager pointed to the area and advised it is thirty-nine (39). Mr. Slager advised this development is modeled after Weston Ridge, and we would like to get the same builders. There is demand for these high-end cottage homes and duplexes, and they run about the same price as a single family home. Our research shows that there is a demand for the mix of all, they want to be near each other. We have request of St. John residents that want to stay in St. John, but can no longer maintain the one-acre lots, so they are looking for the maintenance-free type product.

Mr. Williams said he had one last question, could he show the park and the bike-trail. Mr. Slager showed on the meeting room screen where Saddle Creek ends; and where they will pick it up, come along the pipeline, cross at the intersection; as this will be eventually a signalized intersection, so you would have a crosswalk here, and we will stub it to the South, so it can be continued with future development. So the park, but this area would actually be a playground. It is triangle shaped, which is all green space. The parcel to the south is currently undeveloped, and at that point this park could be potentially expanded as it is on the property line.

Mr. Slager advised that they will be back at the March 2, 2016 meeting, requesting permission to advertise for the April meeting. We will get the final version of the traffic study before then. Mr. Kraus just received the engineering this week, so he’ll start to review that. Mr. Slager advised Mr. Kil that he will send the entire PowerPoint over for their records.

C. ROSE GARDEN – Review of Final Plat Approval (Mr. Doug Rettig)

Mr. Forbes advised the next item on the agenda is Rose Garden, review of Final Plat.

Mr. Doug Rettig with Land technologies introduced himself to the board. He advised he is the Project Engineer for Rose Garden. Rose Garden was granted preliminary approval last year. The build-out of all the infrastructure is pretty much complete at this stage, so we are getting ready for Final Plat.

Mr. Rettig advised that they just laid asphalt at the intersection of Parrish and 89th, which now makes it a four-way intersection. This really opened up the availability to Willow Ridge, and looks to be a big improvement to the area. Simple enough tonight, they will be coming back in two weeks for Final Plat approval, we just wanted to re-introduce it. It has not changed; it is the same plan we received approval on. They have the first house sold, and they want to start building very soon.

Mr. Forbes commented that the intersection looks nice and works very well, and he has received a lot of compliments from people who live over there. Mr. Rettig stated that they were lucky with the weather, and it held out so this could be completed.

Mr. Forbes asked for any questions from the board. Hearing none, Mr. Forbes advised Mr. Rettig that we will see you in two weeks.

D. RENAISSANCE – Unit 7 and 8 – Review of Proposed Subdivision Plan (Mr. Doug Terpstra)

Mr. Forbes advised the next item on the agenda is Renaissance Unit 7 and 8.

Mr. Doug Terpstra of Wyngate Development introduced himself to the board. Mr. Terpstra advised they ended up switching a few things, just because of the acquisition of the property, we could not get our hands on the deed from the County, and this had been going on since late last Summer.

Mr. Terpstra advised Preliminary Plat approval was done back in 2006. They just want to complete the development, there is approximately twenty (20) lots left. There will be three (3) of them not included, what has broken out in to Phase 7 now. We wanted to do them all at the same time, and probably still will. Those three lots that we are talking about are 498, 499 and 500, and then it’s the Clarmonte reconstruction.

There is not really anything to talk about until the point where you see the divided line where that lot where 498 splits; that’s the property acquisition, couple things we have to talk about is how the board wants to handle the transfer of that deed. The board can request to Quit-Claim it; or do you want to be co-signers on it.

Mr. Kil advised that back in 2006; that was the detention basin, which now is no longer needed, and it was decided that we would close Clarmonte Drive off, make an intersection at Parrish. Lake County acquired the property, they since have sent it back to us, so now we have to figure out how we want to do it. Mr. Kil advised that he told Mr. Terpstra that he would ask our attorney which way he would prefer this take place. It calls for a cul-de-sac at Joliet Street, and that will allow for the installation, if necessary, of a four-way stop at Parrish and Joliet Street.

Mr. Terpstra advised that the reason it is in two plats, which is a Phase we should be doing all at one time, is we thought that deed was going to be here since the first of the year, and since it wasn’t we deferred, had the public hearing meetings back in December 2015. I have had them redraw this thing. Due to expenses we are going to leave it as two phases; but more than likely they will be done at the same time.

We will be asking to come back in two (2) weeks and get Secondary (Final) Plat approval on both of these.

Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Kil if they can take action on Phase 8 until we have the deed. Mr. Terpstra advised that is okay as Phase 8 would be at the end of the construction of Phase 7 anyway, and if that takes another month, that’s fine. The Town Council would have to take action to transfer the deed; unless it is re-platted and co-sign the plat, I don’t know what mechanism the attorney is going to want to use. Mr. Kil advised we would probably do Phase 7 on March 2nd, and Phase 8 we would probably see in April.

Mr. Terpstra advised that Mr. Kil and Mr. Kraus have all the engineering details and layers with it. So, it’s just updated, there is nothing that has changed. The only changed was the widening of the cul-de-sac, it was just cut-off street width, and now it is designed so a fire truck or other emergency vehicle can get through there. Both lots 499 and 500 face Clarmonte Drive.

Mr. Forbes asked for questions from the board. Hearing none Mr. Forbes advised that they board will see him in two weeks.

E. KILKENNY HIGHLANDS – Review Final Plat Approval (Mr. Andy James)
Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is Kilkenny Highlands.

Mr. Andy James introduced himself and advised that he is developing Kilkenny Highlands, of which we have received initial approval several months ago. We would like to back for Final approval in a few months, but we have a change that we thought was significant enough to where we felt we had to come back. What we have done; after looking at where we had our proposed retention pond, after staking it out, and looking at how it will actually affect the people who live around there and I have some pictures here. There would be significant impact on the properties close to it.

The retention pond is essentially slowing the water down from going into a big wetland. The stake shows where the retention pond was proposed, and to the West you can see where the characteristics of the land where it flows down. The second pages, we are taking out. There are about 250 second growth Oak trees, oaks, hickory, all huge beautiful trees, it just seems terrible to take the trees out for the purposes of what would be a thimble full of water in a five-gallon bucket.

So, again, I would like to build it this way, keep the trees. Mr. Kozel reminded that we have talked about being environmentally-correct before. So we looked a little closer, I looked at the watershed; this area here all drains to a very large depressional, it’s a wetland, and it’s been there for years. The Lantern Woods pond drains to a pipe right to this location, and there is a ditch that runs right through this piece, all of this water from Lantern Woods, Kilkenny and it all ends up in a very large natural depression. We have studied it and walked it; there are actual high water lines on some of the big trees down in this area there. This is a natural detention pond and we have talked to Mr. Kil and Mr. Kraus about this, and we have talked to the wetland authority, and they get it, it makes sense.

So, we changed the plat and just made two lots bigger. Nothing else changed. We have a conservation easement to the back of those lots, which is where the ditch is; we do not want to disturb trees all along this whole perimeter of our project. We are looking to be very good neighbors.

Mr. Forbes asked if they have any kind of language as to the conservation easement and the rules. Mr. Rettig advised that there will be language on the Final plat addressing that.

We have talked with Mr. Kraus, I tried calling him today but he was out sick. Mr. Kil also stated that Kenn was ill and that they have spoken about the conservation easement at length.

Mr. Kil asked when are you thinking of coming in with the Final Plat. Mr. Rettig stated probably in the Summer, possibly May or June. We want to make sure all the improvements are done before we come for Final Plat. Mr. Rettig advised that their IDEM Permits are downstate and we will have those any day now, including the sanitary sewer system, the SWPPP has been filed.

Mr. Forbes inquired, you said you talked with the wetland people, who is that. Mr. Rettig advised Earth Source is our wetland consultant.

Mr. Birlson, so do you need a detention or., Mr. Rettig advised that technically the Town ordinance requires it, but what we’re saying is, this natural depression is an existing detention pond, which is owned by us already.

Mr. Williams asked if they need some declaration from some official body, or is what we’re discussing here a proxy for that. Mr. Kil advised that should Mr. Kraus’s approval letter. Our Town Engineer will write a letter to that effect. Mr. Forbes noted that this is all contingent on what Mr. Kraus tells us.

Mr. Williams asked if the wetlands that they currently own, is it zoned so that it cannot be constructed on at a later date. Mr. Forbes said you can’t build in a wetland. Mr. Kraus confirmed that it is protected. Mr. Kil advised Mr. Williams that you will basically plat it so it can’t be built on, it can’t happen. Mr. Forbes noted that there are also pipelines running through there that would also prevent that.

With no further questions from the Board, Mr. Rettig advised he would be in touch with Mr. Kraus when they are further along.

With no further items for the board, Mr. Forbes advised that they are officially adjourned.

(Meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m.)

Respectfully Submitted:

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