Town of St. John

St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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May 4, 2016 Plan Commission Minutes

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

Mr. Michael Forbes called to order the St. John Plan Commission Regular Meeting on May 4, 2016 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 the recording secretary (Susan E. Wright). Commissioners present: Michael Forbes, Gregory Volk, Jon Gill, Steve Kozel, Jason Willilams, James Maciejewski, Bob Birlson. Staff present: Kenn Kraus, Stephen Kil and Michael Muenich.

The minutes of the March 2, 2016 and April 6, 2016 were deferred.

A. SANCTUARY – Primary Subdivision Approval (Mr. James Buchanan).

Mr. Michael Muenich advised that the proofs of publication are in order for the public hearing.

Mr. James Buchanan introduced himself and advised that the Sanctuary subdivision is one (1) lot consisting of 7.8 acres on White Oak Avenue. He stated that he originally wanted to develop two (2) lots, however the person interested in it only wanted the one lot and did not want to look at a neighbor.

Mr., Buchanan stated he would request a waiver for storm water detention and sidewalks along the front; otherwise its pretty much as it shows (displayed on screen). The sewers are existing in the back of the property and water is existing in the northwest corner of the parcel.

Mr. Forbes asked Town Engineer Ken Kraus if he has reviewed the storm water detention. Mr. Kraus referred to a letter written on April 29, 2016. He noted that the project includes one (1) R-1 residential lot to be built on 8.7 acres, including a dedication of a fifty-foot (50’) wide half right-of-way for White Oak Avenue. Lot 1 will be 7.4 acres, and we have completed our review and find the plans to be satisfactory with the follow exceptions.

There is no storm detention system planned, and there is no minimum elevation of the lowest point of entry needed. A waiver is being sought for all of the aforementioned items. Development fee will be the minimum of $900.00, as there are no public improvements associated with this project.

Mr. Forbes noted that there is no curb on the entire length of White Oak Avenue and if we put in curb there we’re affecting the drainage on White Oak Avenue. Mr. Kraus stated that you definitely do not want that. Sidewalks were discussed briefly at the Study Session for that side of White Oak Avenue and there will be a bike trail on this side.

Mr. Kraus advised that it cuts in and becomes an “interior bike trail”, but there are no sidewalks for that point north to 93rd Avenue.

Mr. Kil clarified that the bike trail runs the full length of White Oak and will be the full length to 93rd Avenue and there is a connection to the interior sidewalks which will be wider that’s going to serve a function of a bike trail.

Mr. Forbes noted that it swoops into the subdivision and back out onto White Oak Avenue, but it does go the full length of White Oak from 93rd Avenue to where the wetland is; goes around the wetland, then shoots off to the West, then comes back out to White Oak. Then, there is a crossover at 101st and White Oak Avenue. He noted that no sidewalks are on the East side of White Oak from 93rd to 101st, and all the houses have been established there.

Mr. Kraus noted that the drainage the plan shows a lot of low-lying areas of wetlands and floodplains that encroach onto this property, so 7.4 acres with one driveway is insignificant to the increase of impervious surface and because its adjacent and abutting this wetland area there is plenty of natural storage over and above what you would need for just a house and a driveway.

Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kraus discussed the minimum elevation of the lowest entryway. Mr. Kraus stated that normally we put in an elevation that is usually 18” – 24” above the curb at the center of the lot. This residence would set way back from the street, and sits on a knoll; we don’t know what kind of house is going to be built. It could be a walk-out on one side, r it could be a ranch. But whatever they build as long as it’s two feet (2’) above the flood level it will be acceptable; and they are plenty high. It’s literally sitting on a knoll which is ten feet (10’) above the flood plain now. Flood plain elevation is about 678 approximately, a reasonable guess, would have to check the FEMA map. Mr. Kraus noted that the specific elevation would be on the building permit plat.

Mr. Forbes opened the floor to public comment:

Tim Bushack (9993 Delmar Street). Mr. Bushack stated that this may be out of the point for what is proposed right here, however he has taken video and that St. John is notorious for flooding a little bit more and more over the years. He referred to the screen advising “you have a subdivision coming in over here”. I have video of water coming across White Oak Avenue and it’s pretty heavy; all through there. There at 101st, it is all under water and you know the retention area over with Rosewood Estates, they cut down all the woods and they burn it out every year. It looks like a lake, so obviously one every 10 years it happens and that’s a lot of water. He just wanted to make sure enough information was given on what is happening.

Mr. Kraus noted for Mr. Bushack that what he is pointing to (on the screen), that’s where the floodplain is. That’s the reason for having the lowest entryway elevation at 2’ above, in order to accommodate the 100-year flood elevation.

Kevin Cole (10652 Manor Drive). Mr. Cole just wanted to know that since there is going to be a lot of construction down that road, what about the red foxes, all the natural materials and the deer. We are going look like Schererville.

Kourtney Cole (10652 Manor Drive). Ms. Cole advised that she lives with her parents and inquired how is the Town going to handle the essentials with EMS, schools, road construction. She advised that when she comes home from work that she can at times see 25 deer that live in that area and where are they going to go. Noted that there is proposed building of 500 new houses across the street which will that will put even more students in Lake Central that is already overflowing. They had to build an addition to Lake Central, you have flooding issues and you have animal issues. You have overcrowding on streets and there’s the sports complex for baseball and there is too much traffic as it is. Stated she is concerned about fire safety, police safety and road safety.

Mr. Forbes reiterated that in this instance it is one (1) house on 7 acres. I understand what you are saying and we have talked previously about this. Your concerns lean more toward The Preserves and other larger subdivisions. However, in this instance, this is a single lot where the property owner is not going to cut down all the trees. They are going to leave all the land in a natural state with the exception of where they are putting their driveway, house and their garage. This is one unit on one lot.

Vince Casboni (9679 White Oak Avenue). Stated again, the problem is right there (pointing to screen). That’s the Casboni property and even though its one lot all of the drainage coming off of White Oak and Bull Run Ditch, it crosses behind Rosewood subdivision, and then crosses behind the Casboni property. This is only one lot. The Preserve subdivision is 319 acres and 445 homes in there. There are two issues, one is the drainage issue and the other one is the roads. Three hours and 20 minutes from 101st to 93rd Avenue, 917 vehicles. That’s an awful lot of cars. And I did one December 3rd, 2780 cars in a three-hour time, which was 93rd to 101st and from Monix Drive to Hilltop. We have to do something with these roads. 101st is only a twenty-two foot (22’) wide road and nobody seems to care about it. That’s the narrowest road in Town. Before you allow these subdivisions we have to do some infrastructure.

Gerry Swets (9490 Joliet Street). Seeing the past history of some of the flooding that some of the residents in Rosewood have had, I seen some pictures. Can I ask the engineer the height elevation of the home that’s going to be here, how does that compare to any of the homes that are in Rosewood that are having some of the issues.

Mr. Kraus advised that he hadn’t compared those elevations, so we were looking at flood elevations in the requirements that they have to be above the two-foot (2’) to the lowest opening of whatever dwelling is put there.

Mr. Swets advised that he has seen the pictures from Rosewood where they were just totally flooded, including their driveway and I want to make sure we avoid that again if at all possible, so I encourage you to check the elevation levels of what we’re building and what we’re approving before it actually does get approved.

Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive). My comment at this public hearing is simple; there are drainage issues that are foreseeable; there are traffic issues that are foreseeable and there are safety issues that are foreseeable even though it’s a one lot subdivision. We have to be looking at all the subdivisions together as a whole. I think this Plan Commission, its consultants, its engineers, should make sure that the drainage is proper for this and its impact on the surrounding areas. If in the future, I would like this Plan Commission and its members individually, because these types of engineering problems are foreseeable, that they be held personally liable for any detriment done to other property owners, because if you fail to do your due diligence in all of those combined additions to the Town, I think you should be held personally held liable if you don’t do your job. If your consultants don’t certify to you that everything is correct and that we are not increasing safety issues, creating drainage problems.

So, for that reason I would like you to look at all these, even these little ones, the one house, but I think you are responsible and I ask you to be liable, personally, for any damages to other property owners, because if you don’t do due diligence, and you’re not correct, I think you should accept responsibility of the damages.

With no further comments, Mr. Forbes brought the matter back to the Board.

Mr. Williams inquired as to a stipulation in our motion that there should not be an entrance below 680’, but I think you made that note as to 2’ above flood plain. Mr. Forbes advised that any waivers should be addressed first. Mr. Kozel made the motion waiver requirement for curbs on White Oak, no sidewalk on White Oak, no storm water detention system plan, no minimum elevation on “plat”; but we will notate that it must be two-feet (2’) above the flood plain. Motion seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

Mr. Forbes asked for a motion for Preliminary Plat approval of Sanctuary subdivision and please notate the 2’ above flood plain elevation, a development fee of $900.00 must be paid and referencing the Findings of Fact. Mr. Kozel made the motion and referenced the Findings of Fact into said motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Williams. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

A. EDEN’S COVE – Unit 1 / Phase 1 Final Plat Approval (Mr. Tony Strickland)

Mr. Strickland introduced himself and advised that he is here on behalf of Dave Spoolstra, looking for Secondary Plat approval of Eden’s Cove – Unit 1.

Mr. Forbes noted that from our previous Plan Commission study session that they are separating two (2) of the lots, one is an outlot that contains the detention pond and the other is a buildable lot on Grasselli Drive.

Mr. Volk inquired as to the silo that was near Joliet Street. Mr. Strickland advised they will be widening the right-of-way so that we can bump the sidewalk and save that large beautiful tree. That will be part of Phase 2, but they did widen the easement in order to keep it.

Mr. Kraus stated there was a drainage issue down on the corner and they know for sure if they bumped it out and it did not affect. They were able to work around it. And again, this is on Phase 2.

Mr. Strickland showed that they are extending the sidewalk along Grasselli for this Phase through Lot 9 as well.

Mr. Kraus read his recommendation letter dated April 27th that they have reviewed the plat and found it to be satisfactory with a developmental fee for this project if $1,112.63. All public improvements are existing except for the detention basin and associated piping etc. A Letter of Credit is required in the amount of $72,320.95 to cover the cost of these public construction improvements.

Mr. Strickland and Mr. Forbes discussed receiving the Letter of Credit before the signing of the mylars.

Mr. Maciejewski made a motion for Secondary Plat approval, contingent upon receipt of a Letter of Credit in the amount of $61,194.65, payment of the developmental fee of $1,112.63 and referencing the Findings of Fact into the motion. Motion seconded by Mr. Volk. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

Mr. Volk made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council to accept the Letter of Credit for Eden’s Cove in the amount of $61,194.65. Motion seconded by Mr. Kozel. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

B. PROVIDENCE BANK DEVELOPMENT – Request Permission to Advertise Public Hearing (Mr. Philip Mulder)

Mr. Forbes reminded the board that this was discussed at the Plan Commission study session. Mr. Williams stated he was absent for that and wanted the high points of the study session. Mr. Forbes advised it concerned traffic flow and suggested that the owners of the bank add a lane on 101st by Calumet Avenue. A decel lane at the very westerly border of this property. The Plan Commission did not feel that the development should be responsible for the signalization of the intersection because its currently in a “failure” type of intersection. That responsibility falls on us, but they felt it appropriate to have the lane added. We discussed flow around the building that was the bulk of the concerns.

Mr. Williams stated that the way the cars exit out onto 101st to him was reminiscent of what we turned down for the Wine Bar, and expressly why we turned it down. Did that thought come up at the study session and if so what did we say about it. He felt that basically people would be doing a “U-turn” to get out of the bank property to get out on 101st.

Mr. Forbes advised that the width of the ingress/egress driveway was significantly different compared to what the Wine Bar proposed. This is actually two (2) lanes.

Mr. Kil expressed that the issue with the Wine Bar was there was a single lane entering and exiting. So, if a car was exiting, that one could not enter. This is a fully improved intersection on 101st and there is another fully improved ingress/egress on Calumet Avenue.

Discussion ensued that Providence Bank would be coming back to the Plan Commission study session before they come to a public hearing. The issue of stacking cars was discussed and it will be addressed more accurately when final drawings are prepared.

Mr. Philip Mulder, representing Providence Bank, advised that all issues brought up would be clarified and adjusted by the next study session. Concern about lighting standards and two existing houses that are kitty-corner across 101st. so as not to create a problem for them. Mr. Mulder advised that the photometric plan would be available by the study session.

General discussion ensued about the drive-up lanes and curbing. Mr. Mulder again advised that the final engineering would show that and address a bail-out lane.

Mr. Birlson asked about previous views showing wider lane on Calumet Avenue. Stated it looked like a single lane going South, original had multiple lanes as he recalls.

Mr. Kil confirmed that a revised site plan would be done for the study session and corrected. Confirmed that they would have engineering all checked by the next study session.

Mr. Mulder reminded everyone that the last time in the conversation, the construction estimate was $150,000.00 for signalization and it was at least $20,000.00 to $22,000.00 for the turn lane and some other incidentals. So the issue of signalization in its entirety was $170,000.00 or so. Widening the West entrance would encourage “drive-through cuts” through the parking lot. Mr. Mulder reminded that Providence Bank will participate in the improvements.

Mr. Forbes reminded the commission members that they will be meeting again at a Study Session and if everybody is comfortable to authorize the public hearing and that this would allow the process to move forward. Will be placed on May 18, 2016 Plan Commission Study Session.

Mr. Williams made a motion to authorize Public Hearing for Providence Bank. Mr. Kozel seconded the motion. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

C. HEARTLAND PARK - Request Permission to Advertise Public Hearing (Mr. Doug Rettig)

Mr. Rettig of Land Technologies introduced himself and advised that he represents Dick Kortenhoven and others regarding the St. John Ice Arena, which is known as Heartland Park.

Virtually the same thing presented before the commission, other than we have to relocate a storm sewer. But the geometry you see on paper and what you see on the screen is the same. When they spoke a couple of weeks ago that the intent is to build about one acre of addition to the existing facility. His understanding is they want to open up the second ice rink that is in the existing building and then move the gymnastics that currently occupy that space to the new addition.

This comes with additional parking area, which is at the East side of the project. So there will be a new parking lot. The volleyball courts will be relocated, which are shown next to White Oak Avenue. They have not had any more feedback from Chip Sobek, the Parks Superintendent, on those, as to the relocation. To move them more West would require removing some pavement. The old pad there will be removed. This is all minor stuff; moving a little South and West.

The building is straight forward enough. It’s an addition that will look like to the existing facility. Lots of parking there, and we are going to be putting in more parking.

We are here tonight for Permission to Advertise or Public Hearing. It is a two-lot subdivision and will be re-configured.

Mr. Birlson asked about the new parking count as to the current parking count. Mr. Rettig advised he does not have that information, but will have it for the study session.

Mr. Kraus noted that the detention basin will hold the additional run-off from pavement. Mr. rettig stated they will confirm the calculations to make sure its adequate.

Mr. Maciejewski stated he sees from his notes that there was supposed to be a developmental agreement. Mr. Forbes advised that the agreement is still in the works. Mr. Kil advised that the developmental agreement has to be in place and signed prior to the public hearing taking place.

Discussion ensued by Mr. Forbes and Mr. Williams as to traffic impact in the area. Expanding the existing facility to almost twice the size and having peak usage times would have a 50% increase in people using the facility than before. Concern over entering and leaving the facility would create significant stress on the surrounding area. It was discussed if a traffic study was needed with this project, along with The Preserves, and everything else going in this area to make sure that our intersections can withstand it all, or do you think it is irrelevant to this particular project. Mr. Volk was asking if they were talking about traffic on 101st. Mr. Williams advised he felt that 109th and Calumet Avenue were going to get hit pretty hard.

Mr. Kil stated that he believes at the study session the operator can probably talk a little bit more about the operation. Ice times, the two primary functions of Heartland Park itself, the Ice Arena and the Baseball/Softball fields. Both are seasonal. Ice time is usually during the winter. Baseball and Softball are all during the summer. The two sports are completely different, so he thinks the operational aspect of the facility will be addressed. There was discussion as to when baseball/softball tapers off, then the hockey season picks up, so all these functions are not going on at the same time. With gymnastics, free skate times, there is also a fitness center, but traffic flows and there have never been traffic jams.

Mr. Williams inquired to once The Preserves is up and running, he is concerned with the total system. Mr. Williams felt that in 10-20 years when the development if all in, are we creating a gridlock situation.

Mr. Forbes and Mr. Kil advised the planners that the Town is doing a Town-Wide Study to grade our roads, to figure out what improvements will be needed.

Mr. Williams asked about the current road configuration at 109th and White Oak. He was advised that there is a 50’ right-of-way coming South to the project. Mr. Snell owns the property to the south of Heartland Park.

Mr. Kil advised he understands what Mr. Williams is getting at. The issue of The Preserves at 93rd to 101st and the project is all to the south to 109th. The study that the town is undertaking is going to be for the purpose of trying to establish a roadway impact fee for the community; for all new development, so along with trying to do the impact fee is probably the most comprehensive traffic study that anyone has ever undertaken. It looks at the totality of the community and the surrounding collector of minor and major arterial streets, all of that into consideration. So to answer your questions it is all going to be in consideration. There are four (4) engineering firms quoting the study and we will be making sure they quote the same scope of work. Hopefully this will be presented to the Town Council in May of this year.

Mr. Rettig stated that it is not in this plat, but there will be a dedicated easement to the North on the final plans.

Mr. Forbes entertained a motion from the board. Mr. Kozel made a motion to authorize permission for a public hearing on Heartland Park. Motion seconded by Mr. Williams. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

(Unstated – Unknown) Asked about the scope of work that traffic study would include.

Mr. Kil advised the cost of study service is to establish an impact fee. Having not done this before, the Town will make it as comprehensive as possible. They will have 20 to 30 intersections that they will be studying and all the major and minor arterials. It will be a complete Town-Wide Study that should take several days.

Joe Hero (11723 South Oakridge Drive). It is his opinion that this Plan Commission is being misled. When we say we’re going to get bids for a traffic study and then its gonna take so much time to do it. It’s a game of masquerade. What I believe is going on here is the rest of the Town is being developed. You will be led into development before the traffic study is useful. You should put a building moratorium on all projects until you have a genuine traffic study.

Kourtney Cole (10652 Manor Drive). I live right across the street from this whole sports complex and feel it will impact the traffic a lot and when would the study be done.

Mr. Kil advised that we already have a consultant on board who has done work in other communities. It is The Arsh Group; they are getting engineering quotes from different companies from all around the state. Only one of them has done this previously. Impact fees are assessed on building permits. Once the Impact Fee Ordinance is done there is a six-month grace period before you can start charging the fee.

Tom Parada (9535 Joliet Street). First off I don’t think anyone here wants to see progress stop. Just want to make sure that due diligence be taken through all this stuff. Jason in particular, I want to thank you for that. And I have another question; what is the other town in St. John that has had this thorough traffic study done.

Mr. Kil advised that the other community in the State? Mr. Parada said yes. Mr. Kil answered, it is Plainfield, Indiana.

Dale Robert (11990 Heron Lake Road). This does not pertain to the comments said tonight, but there is a question of the Plan Commission. What ever happened to the road grindings on Bingo Lake? Was there anything observed on that and where did it go.

Mr. Kraus answered that he believes he is referring to the large pile of clean stone that was placed for the Dancing Waters development. He reiterated that it was not grindings, it was clean stone.

With no further public comment Mr. Forbes entertained a motion for adjournment. Mr. Maciejewski made the motion to adjourn. Mr. Williams seconded the motion. Motion carried 7 ayes – 0 nays.

(The meeting was adjourned at 8:59 p.m.)

Respectfully Submitted:

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