St. John Indiana - Founded 1837
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May 18, 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 May 18, 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, James Maciejewski, Bob Birlson, Jason Williams. Staff present: Kenn Kraus, Town Engineer. Absent: Gregory Volk and Stephen Kil.

A. PROVIDENCE BANK – Southwest corner of Calumet Avenue and 101st Avenue – Review of Two-Lot Subdivision Plan (Mr. Phillip Mulder)

Mr. Forbes advised the first agenda item is Providence Bank Development.

Mr. Phillip Mulder of Lagestee-Mulder handed out site plan materials, and introduced himself to the board members. Mr. Mulder advised that after the last Study Session they attended, they received some comments from Town Manager Stephen Kil regarding some items that needed to be updated and included on the site plan. They were the photo-metric and the landscape plan, which have just been distributed to you.

Drainage and retention requirements are shown on the engineering plans and are in the process of being finalized and submitted to Mr. Kraus. We have revised the geometry on the entrance to 101st and have slightly changed the entrance on Calumet Avenue. The traffic flowing into the site at 101st, has been changed so that there is not going to be any back-up entering the drive-through for the Bank, or for the ATM.

The right-of-way for the egress – ingress easement will be added to the plat of subdivision once the site has been finalized. That summarizes most of the changes. We have changed the position of the monument sign in the Northeast corner and we have widened the entrance on the West side, entering 101st Avenue.

Mr. Williams stated that at a previous Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, we had understood that was going to be a banner-lit sign. So, the point being, the way you have the sign oriented in the map, as shown, it would be shining directly at two houses. You need to flip it at 90˚.

Mr. Williams asked about how entering off of 101st Avenue; help me understand what these lines mean. Mr. Mulder advised that after they enter off of 101st Avenue, you can only turn right off of 101st Avenue, there is no left-turn access off of 101st to prevent any back-up of westbound traffic; so as they turn right off 101st, there is room for stacking of the cars exiting the Bank, so multiple cars can be waiting to turn onto 101st before the car coming in has to taper and jog. There’s room, even if there are high volumes of traffic exiting the Bank at once. Any cars in-coming can turn right in and not have any issue.

Discussion ensued about physical barriers. Mr. Forbes noted that there are two different geometries, 3 of 11 is different from the page 1. Mr. Mulder advised that the engineering plans do not reflect the latest. The engineering plans have all the detailed engineering showing the changes with the revised entrance. Further discussion ensued as to a customer wishing to go West on 101st from the Bank property. The current count at the Dyer facility on a daily basis, if used as a comparison, and they have mapped it out on a daily basis, and I can get a chart for you, but it is no more than twelve (12) cars per day that go through that facility. It was noted that it is just not high traffic. Most people are not going to the Bank on a daily basis.

Mr. Forbes advised that he trying to bring the meeting room projector up and running, please excuse the noise.

Mr. Kozel asked if there was a dedicated easement for the expansion of Calumet Avenue. Mr. Mulder advised they are dedicating 50’ of right-of-way on the West side, it’s on sheet 101.

Mr. Birlson inquired about sheet 3 of 11, 101st Avenue turn lane “C” intersection plans for detailed design, where is that at in the plans. Mr. Mulder advised that right now there is no detailed design of the engineering for the turn lane. That is still up in the air as far how the design is going to fall, in terms of the Town and on our end.

Mr. Maciejewski stated that he believes that at our last meeting we discussed that the plans were almost done, and we have not seen those plans yet. Mr. Maciejewski advised that he knows Mr. Kraus has been given some information, but we have not seen those plans yet.

Mr. Kraus advised that they have not gotten too far along. They have a turning lane, just basically 200’ along with the 100’ taper.

Mr. Forbes advised that the Town is handling the traffic light signalization, but like Mr. Kraus just mentioned, it is a 200’ long lane with a taper, noting that no curb will be placed, as it would mess up the drainage, so it is just a paved lane and a shoulder. Mr. Kraus advised that he has something laid out that he can send to Trevor tomorrow.

Mr. Mulder commented that just to design a turn lane, in his estimation is one thing; but, if you are going to coordinate it with a light and a future light, it has to go hand-in-hand.

Mr. Kraus advised that he has a Preliminary Plan hard-copy that he can give Trevor now.

Mr. Forbes noted that until the other side of Calumet develops; there will probably be no real changes to Calumet Avenue, and I know we are discussing acquiring easements to locate the signals; however, at this point it just going to be a pretty basic signalization and then we will make adjustments accordingly if and when the West side develops. Go with the drawing that Mr. Kraus gave you and if you have any questions he can coordinate between Mr. Denny Cobb and whatever else is available.

Mr. Birlson asked Mr. Kraus if he could send the planners the drawing that he sent to the developer. Mr. Kraus advised sure, he had sent it to Steve Kil and thought that maybe it had already been distributed.

Mr. Maciejewski advised that he is looking at the islands in the parking lot, and he is looking at a couple that, I guess I am not understanding the purpose. Mr. Mulder advised that just has a walk-on in that island leading to the South end of the parking lot, just so there is still a route for someone to walk.

Some discussion ensued on the photometric plan and the landscape plan, looking for any tweaks that need to be addressed. Mr. Maciejewski asked Mr. Kraus if he could track the maximum/minimum ratios on those photo metrics. Mr. Kraus advised that he did not believe there is a maximum, as long as you do not have light trespass to the property.

Mr. Mulder advised that it is not shown, but there will be a sidewalk installed on 101st and Calumet along the property line. Also, though it is not on the primary subdivision plat yet, there will be an ingress-egress easement running from the entrance on 101st straight South to the un-developed property as it stays within the current ownership, unless it gets sold off for some other development.

Mr. Williams asked about one of the previous plans had provisions for traffic moving through the Bank parking lot further South, is that no longer a consideration. Mr. Forbes advised that was what he was just talking about.

Mr. Williams asked if there is potential for future commercial development going South. Mr. Forbes advised he felt that was the purpose of the discussion in the event that it is commercial development, we would want that access. However, if it’s residential it is questionable as to whether we would want that, but the thought was to just have it on the plat in that event.

Mr. Mulder advised what they are discussing is not shown on the plat, they wanted to make sure it was generally agreed upon before they went through on the final plats. Discussion ensued as to the location of the sidewalks in relation to property lines and roadway right-of-way.

Mr. Forbes advised that himself and Mr. Kraus were discussing the extension of water and sewer. It is currently shown that you are extending it all the way along Calumet Avenue to your southern boundary. Mr. Mulder advised that is correct.

Mr. Forbes asked about across the 101st Avenue side. Mr. Mulder advised that his previous discussions are that they would not be required to bring it across 101st because they would not be connecting to anything west of our site. Mr. Forbes stated that he did not remember having that conversation. Mr. Kraus noted that typically the Town requires the subdivider to extend utilities across the front to the property line on all public streets.

Mr. Kraus advised he does not know what they have to the West as far as water and sewer. Mr. Forbes asked if that is where Aqua takes over? Mr. Mulder advised yes, the Emerald Crossing subdivision is serviced by Aqua, and there is a water main on the South side of 101st.

Mr. Kraus noted that the sizes of the water main that they have shown on their plans to the extent; 12” on the water main is the correct size to match our grid pattern for the water distribution system. Sizes are good and the location is okay, if they do not have to extend it to the West property line. Mr. Forbes stated that he just wanted to make everyone aware of it.

Mr. Kraus noted a fire hydrant and asked if that was going to be a private hydrant. Mr. Mulder advised they would move the hydrant so that it is a public hydrant, but it would still service the building.

Mr. Birlson asked is it a requirement for them to install improvements past their boundary lines, because he thinks he missed that part. Mr. Kraus advised the reason for the extension is to serve future development that is in Town, except the development West already has water being serviced to them from another source.

Mr. Forbes asked for the sake of argument, if in the future somebody needed to put water and sewer in there, is there an easement where that can be placed. Mr. Kraus stated that the water line looks like it falls within the street right-of-way; and the sanitary sewer jogs a little to the South of that North right-of-way line. Mr. Mulder advised that the last manhole that was built, it angled South, so we grabbed it at that line extended. Mr. Kraus suggested extending through the right-of-way line and capping it off at a 5’ stub.

Mr. Kraus asked about the property North of 101st, that would be future development and would require water and sewer at some point also. The signalization that is being reviewed does not contemplate a north branch of this intersection. Mr. Forbes asked if another 5’ stub would be enough to be for future connection. General discussion ensued on placement of future improvements. Mr. Mulder advised that they would place 5’ stubs in for the future.

Mr. Williams advised he just wanted to restate that he thinks the ingress-egress off of 101st is extremely problematic, but it sounds like the rest of you do not have the same concerns. Mr. Forbes asked if Mr. Williams would be more comfortable with landscaping in that triangle area. Mr. Williams advised yes, but he is still concerned over the ingress-egress off of 101st, and how we keep them from cutting over into the drive-through.

Mr. Mulder stated that a curb there would be a problem with a snow plow. General discussion again ensued as to interior traffic driving through the parking area.

Mr. Forbes asked if any of the board members had any further questions.

B. HEARTLAND PARK – Re-Subdivision and Site Plan Review (Mr. Doug Rettig)

Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is Heartland Park. Mr. Rettig passed out paper copies of the proposed plans to the members.

Mr. Rettig of Land Technologies introduced himself. He advised that he is here tonight to talk about the Heartland Park Ice Arena property. Mr. Mulder advised that they will be doing a re-subdivision of what is now a two-lot subdivision, and we are going to re-subdivide it into another two-lot subdivision.

Mr. Rettig advised that the plat is shown on page three of the handouts. Mr. Rettig advised that it is one very large lot, which has the ballfields on it, and there was a small lot where an existing home was. The existing home has been demolished, and that will be incorporated into the large lot. Mr. Rettig directed them to what is shown as Lot 2A, the larger portion of that is already owned by the St. John Ice Arena Partners, and they are in the process of purchasing the little appendage that is going off to the East there, that is what we have been working on for the last several months.

That closing will be happening very soon, possibly next week. So the Ice Arena Partners will own what is delineated on this drawing as Lot 2A, and then the Town will own Lot 1A, which is the balance of the property.

Mr. Rettig advised that this is how they are going to clean up the plat. They will be dedicating an ingress-egress easement for the existing roadway that is already there, that’s the curvy lines running through the middle of the drawing. We will also be creating new utility easements to cover the existing water main, there’s a water main that comes in, we call it the Southeast corner of the property, runs along the south property line, North along the West side of the building, back East all the way back to White Oak Avenue. Mr. Rettig advised that there is an existing sanitary sewer line that runs along the South property line that is in the existing 12’ easement that was already platted.

Mr. Rettig advised that basically they are going to do away with a lot for the house; there is also an easement that benefitted that lot that does not need to be part of this new plat either. So, that is how we are going to re-subdivide Heartland Park, which is what we are going to call the First Re-Subdivision of Heartland Park.

Mr. Rettig directed their attention back to the first page, which showed the existing building and the addition that they have been talking about for some time. The gray “hashed-in” area shows the new addition, which is for the gymnastics wing of the building, and that is for the purpose of opening up the other ice rink in the existing building.

Mr. Rettig advised that the addition is being built on top of an existing parking lot. So, a whole other parking lot will be added to the East, which is where the volleyball courts are now. Mr. Rettig advised that everything is being pushed towards the East.

We have moved the volleyball courts eastward, as shown to you tonight. That has been presented to Chip (Mr. George Sobek) the Park Superintendent, so he is aware of this. This does necessitate removing a little bit of asphalt down by that metal building. Mr. Rettig advised he was not sure what the metal building was used for. Mr. Forbes advised that is the Animal Control Shelter and Public Works Storage.

Mr. Rettig advised that a small portion of the asphalt will be removed to place the volleyball courts to the shown location, and we feel this gives it enough room away from the driveway that should be sufficient.

Mr. Rettig advised that they are having to relocate some lights that are on the site, as well as adding new lights. We will also have to re-locate one fire hydrant and add two fire hydrants. Re-locate a storm sewer that is physically underneath where the addition is going to be. That will be relocated around the Southeast side of the building, that’s shown on the site plan. An all new storm sewer system in the new parking lot which will go directly to the retention pond.

Mr. Rettig stated that summarizes the proposal and he will be happy to answer any questions.

Mr. Williams asked what is the total parking capacity “before and after”. Mr. Rettig advised 425 and 435, and he believed it is on one of the pages handed out. Mr. Rettig advised they are kind of maxed out, due to the existing walking trail all around three sides of the property. The architect laid this out, and I am just following what he did. But, from what I understand this parking lot is never full. Mr. Rettig advised there is also a lot of off-site parking to the west too; which is off the drawing here.

Mr. Birlson asked if the main entrance was going to remain the main entrance. Mr. Rettig advised yes, access to the new facility would be from within the building. Mr. Rettig advised that it would be like a new room on an existing house, with the same front door; however, there will be six (6) emergency exits. Mr. Rettig advised that the Fitness Center will be in the new addition in part as well. The fitness facility is expanding as well.

Mr. Forbes advised it makes sense that the bulk of the ice arena will be during the winter months, so there won’t be any baseball, there won’t be any volleyball and that is the traffic during the winter months, and just opposite during the summer months with baseball and volleyball. He also noticed that the fitness facility is random, not everyone comes and leaves at once, it is scattered.

Mr. Maciejewski noted that there looks like a significant grade change alone the North side of the building, can you advise how that is being handled. Mr. Rettig advised that it only effects the northeast corner of the addition for the most part. What happens is we want to have the same floor elevation as the existing building and that is what we’ve done. The old building and the new building will have to be at the same floor elevation. However, the parking lot that is already there has 3’ of drop in it. So, a couple of the emergency egress doors on the North side of the building, will need stairs to get down to grade, and possibly ramps. Mr. Rettig advised that he put a call into the architect to discuss that specific issue. Once he talks to him, if necessary they will install ramps and a guardrail, and it only affect two (2) of the six (6) doors.

Mr. Maciejewski suggested a wider sidewalk to have a continuous path of travel. Mr. Rettig advised he would have that information once he makes contact with the architect.

Mr. Kozel asked if there is any place where overflow parking could be designed. Mr. Rettig advised on the North side of the whole parcel, there is a walking path, an asphalt path, but there is room there for additional parking someday. Mr. Williams asked where that would be located on the plan. Mr. Rettig showed that area on Page One of the plan.

Mr. Williams asked if he could venture a guess of how many more parking spaces he could get in there. Mr. Rettig estimated around 150, easily. Mr. Rettig advised that they are not maxed out and there are ways to provide additional parking space if needed.

Mr. Rettig advised that he did go over the storm water detention, the existing detention basin was oversized originally, and he has looked over the numbers and it appears to be adequate for the expansion. Mr. Kraus advised that it was calculated for a lot more impervious surface in the future so that you would not have to expand the detention basin.

More discussion ensued as to additional future parking and the movement of a portion of the walking path around the Animal Control shelter.

Mr. Forbes advised that he has not seen the Development Agreement as yet, that is between the two attorneys, and a meeting with Mr. Kil to work out next week when he gets back. Mr. Rettig advised that when he spoke to Mr. Kortenhoven he stated that the closing was to be next week.

Mr. Forbes asked for any other questions from the board members.

C. 9501 WICKER AVENUE – PROPERTY PERSPECTIVE LLC – Discussion of Possible Uses of Existing Structure (Mr. Trent VanderZee)

Mr. Forbes advised the next agenda item is 9501 Wicker Avenue. I believe this is the house next to the Dairy Queen.

Mr. VanderZee advised that is correct. Mr. Maciejewski advised the Chairman (Mr. Forbes) that he will need to recuse himself in this matter.

Mr. Trent VanderZee introduced himself, and advised that he does not have anything on paper for them to study this evening; he advised that he more or less just wanted to introduce himself and ask some questions. Mr. Trent VanderZee advised he is with Straight A Builders, and his first new home was built in St. John. Mr. VanderZee advised he is also on the Building Committee for Crown Point Christian School for the existing facility, and you will probably see more of me because I have been recently appointed as Chairman for the Building Committee for the new building for Redeemer United Reform Church, who has property just east of Crown Point Christian School, so we have been working on some plans for that and hope to break ground sometime in Spring of next year.

Mr. VanderZee advised that through remodeling over the past several years, I have been in to purchasing and flipping some foreclosed homes, it fits well with what I do. As such, 9501 Wicker Avenue is my first foray into commercial; possibly an exciting transition. Mr. VanderZee advised that he has been reading the zoning code and I will continue to study it more, but I thought there is probably a resource here to get some answers to a few of my questions.

Mr. VanderZee stated that as he sees it with this property, it is a unique opportunity, but he has no specific plans for the property yet. I believe I have the option of demolishing the existing home and sell it as a site for someone to develop. I could demolish the home and develop the site myself. Or I can try to lease the existing property who would want to use the existing building. Or lastly, sell it to someone with the house in place, who may want to use the existing building.

My thought was I could put a sign up in front and probably ascertain pretty quickly if there is any desire for the property. But, if I come across such person, I will need to know, or it would be helpful to know, what the options are for using that facility.

Mr. VanderZee stated that his understanding is that it is currently legal non-conforming, or legal use of a non-conforming building. It is in need of some repair, but it has been maintained as far as electrical systems, plumbing systems, the roof is in good shape, the soffit and gutters, the exterior brick is in good condition, and the foundation does not appear to have any cracks, but there is some seepage there. In my mind it can be very functional, ugly as it may be, it could be used from the standpoint of just holding up. If it had some new windows, and new parking lot, new signage, it could possibly work for somebody for several years to come. As far as “flipping” that may be where I can put my expertise to put new windows in for them and remodeling some bathrooms.

Mr. VanderZee advised that he is not suggesting that is the best thing for St. John or for the Dairy Queen next door, so I know there is probably some incentive there to do something different. So, maybe this is a questions for Mr. Maciejewski eventually or an architect at some point to, but, if I were to update bathrooms in that facility.,. I guess the first question is being able to continue to use that facility, for someone given there are some improvements. And if so, secondary to that, is if that facility can be used, does it have to be brought up to current accessibility codes, the front steps, the back door, the interior door widths, etc.

Mr. VanderZee then asked, so, due to your abandonment clause in the zoning code, which reads something to the effect of if it has been sitting for six (6) months that it has to be brought to current standards. I didn’t abandon it for six months, but it did sit for six months or even longer.

Mr. Forbes commented that it has been abandoned far longer than that, so I believe that clause applies here. So the legal-non-conforming usage that the prior owner had, does not apply.

Mr. VanderZee then asked, so any improvements, or any future use of that building would have to be have to be brought up to code.

Mr. Kozel concurred with Mr. Forbes. Mr. Kozel further stated that it would all depend on the usage of the building (when asking about the upper level and the requirement of an elevator). Mr. Forbes agreed that it all depends on the usage of what is being proposed, such as a professional office.

Mr. VanderZee stated that is probably the use that would be the better fit. Very low traffic. Mr. Forbes advised that with the G & K Development as an example is it is a professional office with very little parking, however; there is little traffic to go there. Mr. Kozel advised it would depend on what the usage would be that would dictate what is okay, something else would place them in a different classification.

Mr. Kozel advised that if any portion would be used by the public it would have to bring it up to ADA standards. Mr. Kraus commented that out may not have to make the second floor accessible. Mr. Kozel concurred, if the second floor is just for personal use and not public use, will determine that factor. Mr. Kozel further commented that if the stairs are as bad as you say they are, something would have to be done with them.

Mr. VanderZee advised that he just started consulting with Mr. Maciejewski. He also noted that it is 75’ wide by 300’ deep. Just driving around, auto repair may be something that may fit there nicely.

Mr. Forbes noted, but then you are running into traffic volumes with auto repair, and people trying to pull out onto U.S. 41, and that is a very-very dangerous area right there. Mr. Forbes noted that we have a lot of problems near Joliet Street and U.S. 41. Mr. VanderZee questioned: So you would like to see it be of low traffic type of use based on its location. Mr. Forbes advised that given the circumstances of the area, correct.

Mr. VanderZee asked if a storage facility would fall under that category, or just something you would not want to see there either. Mr. Forbes commented that would not be something that he would want to see on U.S. 41, and he believes it would require a special exception from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Mr. VanderZee asked about any specific storm water issues in that area, someone had told him about. Mr. Forbes stated he believes there is some sort of pump under the Dairy Queen, and I believe the drainage issue has been resolved. Mr. Gill stated that they did put a pump in by the southwest corner of the property, and then the Town ran a pipe down U.S. 41.

Mr. Forbes stated that it has been so long since it was an issue; however, if developed it would have to be revisited as part of the development.

Mr. VanderZee asked if any of the board members knew the name of the person that wanted to develop the property and was working on it. Mr. Forbes advised that was quite a long time ago, there was talk about a scrap-booking store, and it just fell by the wayside.

Mr. VanderZee asked for any thoughts, with you saying “low use”, I not sure I can continue with that, but I have thought about approaching the guy immediately East of this parcel, that has quite a bit of property that might be accessed through this. Any thoughts on if that would be a good thing or a bad thing. That owner is a Mr. Gerry Swets. Mr. Forbes advised that would have to be a conversation that he would have to have with him.

Mr. VanderZee thanked the board for their comments.

Mr. Forbes asked the board for any other questions.

Hearing none, Mr. Forbes adjourned the meeting.

(Meeting adjourned at 8:18 p.m.)

Respectfully Submitted:

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