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Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes 2023

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Meeting Minutes

01-16-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

January 16, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, January 16, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.

Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director.

Absent: Yolanda Cardona

A quorum was attained.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Chairman

Mr. Birlson made a motion to nominate Mark Lareau as Chairman, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Vice-Chairman

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to nominate Yolanda Cardona as Vice-Chairman, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Secretary

Mr. Lareau made a motion to nominate Brendan Sheeran as Secretary, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with three ayes and one nay.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nay – Brendan Sheeran

MINUTES:

December 19, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the December 19, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay - None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-01 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-520 and StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) to allow the replacement of a privacy fence along the property line within the vision triangle, at 10704 Manor Drive, St. John, IN; Michelle Rosen (Applicant/Owner), True Line Fence, Danielle Todosijevic (Agent).
Mr. Lareau stated before we hear the applicant, there may be an issue with the notices. Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker to address the issue. Attorney Decker stated we were presented with the certified receipts that simply confirm that certain envelopes were sent by certified mail to various persons whom we believe were identified on a list that was prepared by the Auditor’s office. Ms. Todosijevic stated there were about thirty-four notices that she sent out. Attorney Decker stated the rules of the Board of Zoning Appeals requires that that information, the list identifying the property owners along with the certified mail receipts, be presented at least five business days prior to the public hearing date so that the staff can ensure that notice has been properly given in conformance with law. This also includes the proof of publication, which is required by law, but that has not be presented either.

Mr. Lareau stated he believed this item should be delayed until the next meeting since we did not receive all of the documents in a timely manner. Ms. Todosijevic stated she had communicated via email that she would be out of town. The receipts from the certified mail were sent and the green and white receipts were given, but prior to the green and white receipts being given, the receipt was sent to show the letters sent. Both notices that were in the newspaper were also given. Mr. Lareau stated he has been told by staff that those were not received five days prior to this meeting. Ms. Todosijevic stated they received both of those prior to five days. Building and Planning Director, Sergio Mendoza, stated we received the green and white receipts not even an hour ago. Ms. Todosijevic stated that was correct. Mr. Mendoza stated as part of us confirming the notices, we need the list of property owners to compare these green and white receipts to that were just handed in, which has not been provided either. Mr. Lareau stated we have to have this entire package five days prior to the meeting in order to ensure that notices were sent out properly. Right now, you do not qualify to be heard at this meeting. Ms. Todosijevic asked for a deferral. Mr. Lareau directed Ms. Todosijevic to confer with staff on what exactly is needed before the next meeting. Attorney Decker stated if the applicant submits satisfactory evidence of the proof of publication in the newspapers as well as the list identifying property owners that needed to receive notices, the recommendation would be to continue the hearing and allow it to be heard next month as well as make a public statement if the Board elects to defer to the next month. If satisfactory evidence is submitted, you do not need to require the applicant to resubmit or readvertise for the new meeting. Ms. Todosijevic stated she has the papers that were sent via email to the department from the newspapers as well as the receipts from the post office showing the mailings paid for. She stated she understood that staff needed the list of property owners, but you should have access to that list since it came from you. Mr. Mendoza stated you were given an affidavit signed by the Assessor’s office that gives you a list of adjacent property owners within three hundred feet, we do not have that list. There was a form that you should have sent to the Assessor’s office to get that list. Ms. Todosijevic agreed and was not aware that staff did not have access to that same list that she received from them.

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to defer BZA 2023-01, the developmental variance from StJMC 24-520 and StJMC 24-516 (e)(1), until next month seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Lareau stated please be in touch with staff to confirm what is still needed. Mr. Mendoza stated before you reach out to me, please review the emails you were sent in the last few weeks. If anything else is needed, contact us. Attorney Decker stated the proof of publication is a separate document from the receipt that the newspapers will send you.

B. 2023-02 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-125 (b) to allow the reconstruction of a home at the previous footprint, which is approximately two hundred and seventy-nine (279) square feet smaller than the Ordinance allows, at 10652 Manor Drive, St. John, IN; Kevin and Karen Cole (Applicants/Owners), Paul Whitener (Agent).
Paul Whitener, Paul Whitener and Company, stated on the 22nd of October the Cole’s home caught fire. It has been determined by the insurance company that the home is at a 100% loss, foundation and all, and it is to a point where the cost of rebuilding their home is exceeding the limits of their policy. Because we are having to take the foundation out, the Building Department is now considering this new construction rather than a rebuild or remodel, and we now have to adhere to the Ordinances that are in place. Currently the limit for a story and a half home is larger than what the home’s footprint is. We are asking this Board to approve a variance allowing us to rebuild the home at its former footprint, which is two hundred and seventy-nine square feet smaller than the minimum allowed per Ordinance. The home will still conform to the neighborhood and what is already there.

Mr. Lareau asked what the square footage was. Mr. Whitener stated the main level and bedroom level are 1,282 square feet, but that does not include the family room and spare room on the lower level. Mr. Sheeran asked if the foundation was being pulled out. Mr. Whitener stated it would be. The fire got up to two thousand degrees in the garage, which just melted the concrete, plus with all of the contaminants that seeped in to the concrete, we have to remove everything. Mr. Lareau asked what the minimum square footage was for a story and a half home. Mr. Mendoza stated it is currently 2,100 square feet. Mr. Whitener stated the total square footage with the finished lower level is 1,821 square feet.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-02 Development Variance
Ed Gordon, 10667 Manor Drive, stated he approves the rebuilding of the home. He was present when the house burned and watched them lose everything they have.

Rick Thomas, 10705 Manor Drive, stated they are not changing from anything that was there already. Reducing the square footage will not be a deterrence from the neighborhood at all. He stated he would like to see the variance approved.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-02 Development Variance

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve BZA 2023-02, the variance from StJMC 24-125 (b), allowing for reconstruction of the home no more than two hundred and seventy-nine square feet smaller than what the Ordinance allows, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

C. 2023-03 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-192 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a use variance for an indoor self-storage facility within the C-2 (Highway Commercial District) and US 41 Overlay District, at 10045 Earl Drive, St. John, IN; Jonathan Lunn (Applicant), Doug Rettig (Agent, DVG).
Doug Rettig, DVG, stated we are here to request a use variance for a proposed indoor self-storage facility located on Earl Drive behind Arby’s. There were originally three lots here that were replatted in to two lots when Planet Fitness came in, resulting in a lot that is a roughly 2.5 acres. Mr. Lunn has done many of these in the past, but this is a new concept for self-storage that is all indoor. You will have two drive-in entrances on both sides of the building where you pull your car in, and then unload inside of the building and walk through climate controlled hallways to get to your storage unit. This lot is unique because there is about a fifteen foot elevation change from Ravenwood to Earl Drive, giving the building an access to the upper level on Ravenwood and access to the lower level on Earl. Mr. Rettig referenced the renderings that were shown on the screen to give the Board an idea of what the building will look like.

Jonathan Lunn, Chicago Storage 100 LLC, stated we are bringing something that is not in the area to the area. These are starting to happen around Northwest Indiana and follow a supply and demand concept. In looking for sites, we take in to consideration what is available in the area and the configuration of the lot. Mr. Lunn stated these differ from your typical self-storage units in that it is completely indoors and you do not run the risk of snow or weather blowing in to your unit as you are trying to unload your vehicle to load your unit. To get in to the lot itself, we do not look for “A+” lots. We look for lots that are just off of the beaten path with some visibility. The facility being built in Dyer is in a similar location as the lot we are looking at in St. John, if not a little more visible than the lot we are looking at. This lot has been for sale for quite a while and the two end lots have been sold off, leaving this center piece empty. Mr. Lunn stated a positive for this facility being allowed is that, compared to Goodwill who does not pay real estate taxes, we will be paying in to taxes for the area as well as in to the TIF District. He went on to review the building photos that were submitted in the business plan. See Exhibit A. Mr. Rettig asked what a typical unit size is. Mr. Lunn stated they will average around one hundred square feet. We will probably have a five by five as the smallest unit available.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-03 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-03 Use Variance

BOARD QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/DISCUSSION

Mr. Lareau asked what would happen if the Board made no recommendation. Attorney Decker stated it still would be presented to the Town Council for their consideration. Mr. Lareau asked if it would come back to the Board for any further consideration. Attorney Decker stated no. Mr. Lareau asked if the Council approved this with no recommendation from the Board, would they need to come back for another variance. Attorney Decker stated the variance has been applied for with the Town. This is the first step in that process, to be considered by the Board of Zoning Appeals. You conduct the hearing and receive the facts, and based on the evidence and Ordinances, will make a decision for a favorable, unfavorable, or no recommendation to the Town Council. At that point, the Town Council will take it up and review what the Board of Zoning Appeals has done and ultimately decide to approve or disapprove the use variance that has been applied for with the Town. They will have the final say on whether or not the use variance is approved. Mr. Rettig stated if approval is given for the use, the site plan would also still have to be presented to the Plan Commission, so we would not be done by any means.

Mr. Lareau asked Councilman Blazak his opinion on this use in the Overlay District and if he had an idea of the overall feeling of the Council. Councilman Blazak stated each individual Council member would have to make their own decision based on the information presented. Each person will evaluate the application of this use in the neighborhood. Attorney Decker advised the Board members to follow the requirements that are set forth in the Findings of Fact when deciding on a recommendation.

Mr. Lunn stated his use is normally not in the Zoning Ordinance, so he is normally hesitant to state that it is a self-storage facility. He stated when he first came in to the Town Hall, the question was “what is the use”, but he did not want to say self-storage because it is not simply that. It is something new and interesting. As soon as “self-storage” is said everyone assumes it is a garage, which is not true. This use does not fit in to what is presented in the Code because it is still new and the Code was written over ten years ago, so to assume it is the same thing as what is known as self-storage is not true, but it is what happens when this idea is presented. Mr. Mendoza stated, to clarify, on the staff level the reason the use is asked for is to help guide the petitioner. The staff has no opinion on the use. We give the facts and present that to the Board who makes the decision, so before accusations are made on the staff that is the process. There is a permitted use in Industrial sections by right, but once you get in to the Overlay District it falls under a Special Exception or Use Variance. Councilman Blazak asked if there were any renderings of a two-story building, like the one that is proposed. The Council will want to see some sort of picture to really get an idea of what is being proposed for the site. Mr. Lunn stated he agreed and the best he can do is to show stuff he has done in the past. The renderings that were submitted are very close to what we are proposing for this site.

Mr. Birlson asked how many facilities Mr. Lunn has built. Mr. Lunn stated he has been doing this since 1995. Mr. Birlson stated but you did not bring pictures in of your previous facilities. Mr. Lunn stated the first picture shown is one that was done in Arlington Heights that sits right across from a Target. Discussion followed.

Mr. Popovic stated the building itself is fantastic, but the idea of maintaining the Overlay District for the intended use is where he struggles with allowing this. Mr. Lunn stated he understood, but this lot has been vacant for over ten years and has become a bit of a question mark with how the rest of the area has built up. The purpose of the Town is to protect the Overlay District, which is understandable, but this business will bring in around $140,000 per year in taxes which is beneficial to the Town. Mr. Lunn stated the reason he gets pushback is because he is not in the Code, but this use is high quality which is proven by Dyer putting one right by their Jewel. Mr. Birlson stated this is St. John, not Dyer. For development and commercial, we are still young and there is still more room for growth. This is a nice looking building, but it is important to maintain our Overlay District. There is a spot and a need for this, with the self-storage facility that is going in on Hart Street, but maybe not in this area. Mr. Lunn stated he is not in the same group as the self-storage that is being built on Hart Street.

Town Manager, Joseph Wiszowaty, asked how many units were expected to be in this building. Mr. Lunn stated about seven hundred and fifty. Mr. Wiszowaty asked Mr. Rettig how many units were going to be in the storage facility on Hart Street. Mr. Rettig loosely calculated about three hundred and fifty. Mr. Wiszowaty stated this will be about double, then. He asked the estimated assessed value on the property. Mr. Lunn stated the Cube Smart on US30 sold a few years back for $8 million, paying around $150,000 in taxes, which is comparable to what we will have here. The clientele is here for it, but the only issue is that it is not in the Code. He stated he did know that there were further hoops to jump through when designing the building due to the Overlay District, but that he was willing to do so.

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2023-03, the use variance from StJMC 24-192 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 allowing a self-storage facility in the C-2 and US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by roll call vote with three ayes and one nay.
Aye – Bob Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nay – Mark Lareau

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:58 P.M.
Mark LareauBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
01-16-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf
02-13-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

February 13, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Vice-Chairman Yolanda Cardona called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, February 13, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran.

Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director.

Absent: Mark Lareau, Chairman; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; and Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.

A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

January 16, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the January 16, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran
Nays - None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-01 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-520 and StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) to allow the replacement of a privacy fence along the property line within the vision triangle, at 10704 Manor Drive, St. John, IN; Michelle Rosen (Applicant/Owner), True Line Fence, Danielle Todosijevic (Agent).
Mrs. Cardona asked if the public hearing requirements had been met for this petition as she understood there was an issue last month. Building and Planning Director, Sergio Mendoza, stated that was correct, there was an issue with the public hearing notices last month, but the petitioner has corrected those issues and all requirements have now been met.

Michelle Rosen, 10704 Manor Drive, stated she had hired True Line Fence to install a fence at their home and they had thought they had gotten a permit for it, but it turned out they did not. We then found out that a variance was needed for our lot, even though no new holes were dug, the fence was just replaced exactly where it was before. Mrs. Cardona asked if the new fence had already been installed. Mrs. Rosen stated it has been.

Mr. Birlson asked what type of fence it was and if there were pictures. Danielle Todosijevic, True Line Fence, stated it is a vinyl fence. She submitted pictures to the Board showing the site lines from Mrs. Rosen’s property with the new fence as well as pictures of other homes in the area with corner lot fences that go all the way to the sidewalk. Ms. Todosijevic stated this fence is at a stop sign, but the fence is well before the stop sign to where you can see all the way down the street on both sides. Mr. Popovic asked why a permit was not pulled. Ms. Todosijevic stated we did apply for a permit. She explained that they do a lot of work in St. John, and she thought it was in a stack of permits she had picked up one day. After picking up the stack she thought it was in, she went out of town, and when she came back she realized that they did not have the permit and that the Town was looking in to the potential variance needed. She stated no one had called her by November, even though they had applied for the permit at the very end of September. When she had come in to pick up other permits, she inquired about this one, and that is when she found out that a variance was needed. Ms. Todosijevic stated at that time she had told the department that the fence was already installed in error since they thought they had received the permit. Mrs. Cardona stated technically you did not have the proper permit to erect the fence. Ms. Todosijevic stated that was correct. Mrs. Cardona asked when Ms. Todosijevic found out about the variance. Ms. Todosijevic stated November 10th. Mrs. Cardona stated at that time the fence was already installed. Ms. Todosijevic stated that was correct. Since it was a replacement fence, we did not think it would be an issue, but overall it was overlooked and an error that happened.

Mr. Sheeran asked how far the fence was in to the vision triangle. Mr. Mendoza drew a line on the lot showing the area that fell in to the triangle. Mrs. Cardona asked if the municipal code was in effect when the original fence was erected. Mr. Mendoza stated the original fence permit was pulled in 2002. He stated he believed at that time the vision triangle was not in effect, but would need to confirm. Ms. Todosijevic stated there are quite a few homes within the neighborhood that have fences that come all the way to the sidewalk.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-01 Development Variance
Dean Hasselgren, 10717 Manor Drive, stated that fence has been there for twenty years and there has never been an issue with it. It would be a pain for the homeowner to have to move it for such a small area.

Pete Cappas, 10716 Manor Drive, stated there have never been issues on that corner with the fence. It is still in the same place as it was when it was originally installed, and looks even nicer and is an asset to the neighborhood. If you look going east, the entire subdivision is uniform with fences that come to the sidewalk. We would hate to see these people penalized for a simple mistake.

Denise Sebben, 10733 Manor Drive, stated she has also been in the neighborhood for twenty years and has never had an issue with a site line and that fence. She stated the fence is beautiful and it needed to be done.

Ken DeYoung, 10747 Manor Drive, stated the fence is beautiful and he would hate to see anything done to it. There has never been a site line issue at that corner with the fence the way it is, and he would like to see it stay.

Mr. Mendoza read a letter of support from Richard and Cheli Thomas, 10705 Manor Drive. See Exhibit A.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-01 Development Variance

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-520 and StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) to allow the replacement of a privacy fence along the property line within the vision triangle at 10704 Manor Drive, St. John, IN, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran
Nays - None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussion, Mrs. Cardona adjourned the meeting at 7:23 P.M.
Yolanda CardonaBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
03-20-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

March 20, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 7:02 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

February 13, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the February 13, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by roll call vote with four ayes and one abstention.
Ayes – Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran
Nays – None
Abstain – Mark Lareau

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-04 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-82 et seq. StJMC 24-95 (d)(4) to allow an addition to the current home that will encroach into the rear yard setback by approximately twenty-two feet, at 12945 Red Lily Way, St. John, IN; Gary Longoria (Property Owner), Joseph Svetanoff (Attorney).
Attorney Joseph Svetanoff, Kopka Pinkus Dolin Attorneys at Law, stated this petitioner is seeking a developmental variance to allow an addition to the home that will encroach in to the rear yard setback by approximately twenty-two feet. The addition we are discussing is a 1,750 square foot pool house, which will connect directly to the current home and feature a living space, bathroom and shower area. Furthermore, the outside of this addition will match the existing home in character and style. We are of the opinion that the variance will not be injurious to the public health, safety, welfare, morals, or comfort to the Town as a simple residential addition will conform to the look and style of the present existing structure, and will increase the assessed value of the homes in and around the area. Two, the use and value of the area adjacent to the residence will not be affected in an adverse manner as this is a simple residential addition that will, again, match the look and style of the existing structure and will increase the assessed value of the homes in and around the area. Last, the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property as without the variance, the petitioner will not be able to construct this residential addition that will conform to the look and style of the existing structure and increase the assessed value. This structure will also shield the next door neighbor to the southeast from any vision in to the yard, as well as hopefully offer a sound buffer. Additionally, we have received an approval from the development’s representative Jack Slager, Schilling Development, for this project.

Mr. Birlson stated he did not see the rear yard setback called out on the drawing. Building and Planning Director, Sergio Mendoza, stated it is not shown on this drawing as it is a requirement per the Zoning Ordinance. The structure encroaches twenty-two feet in to that forty foot rear yard requirement with a balance of eighteen feet from the proposed structure to the property line. Mr. Birlson asked if there were utilities in the area. Mr. Mendoza stated no. The utility and drainage easement is the western ten feet of the lot. Mr. Lareau asked how the pool was installed if the setback is at forty feet. Attorney Svetanoff stated that is a proposed pool. We will have to gain access from the other side of the yard to construct the pool.

Mr. Birlson asked how long Mr. Longoria has resided at the property. Gary Longoria, 12945 Red Lily Way, stated six years. Attorney Svetanoff stated they made a substantial investment in the subdivision in building their home there, and they would like to increase that investment.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-04 Developmental Variance
Mr. Lareau read a remonstrance letter received by Steven and Mary Ann Mis at 9817 Tall Grass Trail. See Exhibit A.

No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-04 Developmental Variance

BOARD QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/DISCUSSION
Mr. Sheeran asked if this met the amount of hard surface allowed on a residential lot. Mr. Mendoza stated we have reviewed that, and this does meet the requirements. Mr. Popovic stated there was mention of blocking the neighbor’s site as well as blocking them from noise. He asked if there was an issue going on currently. Attorney Svetanoff stated no, but we wanted to bring to light that this structure will serve in accomplishing that purpose. Mrs. Cardona asked the location of the neighbor that wrote the remonstrance letter. Mr. Lareau stated behind and across the retention pond, to the southwest. Mr. Mendoza showed the location on Near Map. Mr. Birlson asked if the neighbors to the south were in favor. Mr. Longoria stated everyone in the cul-de-sac is in favor of the project. Attorney Svetanoff stated the representative of the developer is also in favor of it and has signed off on it.

Mr. Birlson asked what was located on the northwest corner of the property. Mr. Longoria answered a playset. Mr. Birlson asked if this were approved, would the plat need to be re-recorded at the County with the vacation of easement. Mr. Mendoza stated this is not a vacation of easement. It is an encroachment in to a rear yard setback. Mr. Popovic asked if this structure is for guest purposes or if it would become a rental. Attorney Svetanoff stated it will not be rented out. It will be used for the kids and entertainment purposes. Mrs. Cardona asked specifically how requirement number three on the Findings of Fact would affect them. Attorney Svetanoff stated the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property as without the variance, the petitioner will not be able to construct this residential addition to conform to the look and style of the existing structure and increase the assessed value of this home and the homes around it. Mr. Popovic asked if the variance was strictly for the pool house. Mr. Lareau stated it is for the pool as well. Mr. Popovic stated this is a large amount of yard to take up. He confirmed with Mr. Mendoza that this meets the requirements of lot coverage. He also asked if there was an alternative plan that is not as large. Mr. Longoria stated we have drawn about six plans and this was the best one to use.

Mr. Birlson stated it looks like there is a patio on the south that could potentially block the drainage on this lot along the property line. Mr. Longoria stated it does not need to be there if it is an issue. Mr. Lareau stated it does not look like there is much room there to allow water to flow between the proposed possible landscaping brick and property line. Mr. Sheeran stated he did not believe drainage would be an issue on the lot. Discussion followed regarding the drainage of the lot.

Mr. Popovic asked if a contractor was already lined up for the work. Mr. Longoria stated yes. Mr. Popovic asked the timeframe for the work to be done. Mr. Longoria stated about three months for the addition, not including the pool. Mr. Lareau stated so we are not approving the pool tonight. Mr. Longoria stated he already has a pool permit. Mr. Lareau asked if a variance was needed. Mr. Mendoza stated no because it is a flat surface, not a structure.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve BZA 2023-04, a variance from StJMC 24-82 et seq. StJMC 24-95(d)(4) to allow an addition to the current home that will encroach into the rear yard setback by approximately twenty-two feet , including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. As a condition, Mr. Birlson added that a patio shall not be created between lots 22 and 23 in order to allow for drainage, and that there shall be no blockage of drainage along the lot line. Mrs. Cardona seconded the motion and stated that this fits the criteria necessary for approval as stated by Attorney Svetanoff, along with the fact that Mr. Mendoza has made sure that this meets the requirements for lot coverage. The motion failed three to two by roll call vote.
Ayes – Bob Birlson and Yolanda Cardona
Nays – Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau

Attorney Adam Decker stated this is not a recommendation, rather a decision that stays with the BZA. Since the motion failed, it is not approved.

B. 2023-05 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-172 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a medical office use within a C-1 Zoning District and the US 41 Overlay Distrcit, at 9495 Keilman Street, St. John, IN; Gerald DeYoung (Property Owner), Doug Rettig (DVG).
Doug Rettig, DVG, stated Gerald DeYoung is here tonight who is the property owner as well as Jill Van Tholen who is a perspective tenant in this building. This building was built in the early 1980’s and has always been a professional office building. There are ten suites in the two-story building, with some tenants occupying two units. The building currently houses seven offices. Mr. Rettig stated that Mrs. Van Tholen is looking to move her medical practice in to this building, and in applying for her business license, it was determined that her practice falls under medical use and that a use variance would be needed. Truth be told, there have been medical offices in this building since 1984. These medical offices were established before the US41 Overlay District, which prohibits medical offices. Mr. Rettig stated this request is for the entire building in order to clean up something that has maybe been an oversight over the years.

Jill Van Tholen, 5512 Beacon Ridge, Lowell, IN, stated she primarily does hormone and weight loss therapy in her current office. She also stated that she will only have part-time hours and see approximately fifteen patients per week.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-05 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-05 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the use variance from StJMC 24-172 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a medical office use within a C-1 and US41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote four to one.
Ayes – Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays – Bob Birlson

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussion, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:36 P.M.
Mark LareauYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
04-17-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

April 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, April 17, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

March 20, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Lareau stated he did not believe the Board received the minutes in their email with the agenda and packet for this meeting and asked for a motion to defer approval of them until next month.
Mr. Birlson made a motion to defer the March 20, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.
Ayes: Bob Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

A. 2023-04 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-82 et seq. StJMC 24-95 (d)(4) to allow an addition to the current home that will encroach into the rear yard setback by approximately twelve feet, at 12945 Red Lily Way, St. John, IN; Gary Longoria (Property Owner), Joseph Svetanoff (Attorney).
Attorney Joseph Svetanoff, Kopka Pinkus Dolin Attorneys at Law, stated he would like to approach the Board with a petition that Mr. Longoria had circulated amongst his neighborhood in favor of the addition and the added value it would bring. See Exhibit A.

Attorney Svetanoff stated he had gone through the facts at the last meeting and asked if the Board would like for him to go through them again. Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker his opinion on allowing that. Board Attorney Adam Decker stated if counsel would like to review items as part of the application, it should be considered by the Board. Attorney Svetanoff gave an overview of project stating it is a 1,750 square foot addition that will connect directly to the current home and feature a living space, bathroom, and shower area. The outside of this addition will match the existing house with character and style of the neighborhood at large. We are of the opinion that the variance approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare of the community as this addition will conform to the look and style of the present existing structures and increase the assessed value of the houses in and around that area. Second, the use and value of the area adjacent to the residents included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse manner as, again, this is a simple residential addition that will conform to the look and style of the present existing structure and neighborhood and increase the assessed value of the houses in and around that area. Third, the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property as without the variance, the petitioner will not be able to construct this residential addition that will again conform to the character and nature of the subdivision and increase the assessed value of the houses in and around that area. Furthermore, you have received approval through staff as well as Jack Slager with Schilling Development, who is the developer of this subdivision. Finally, we have tendered a petition supporting this project that has been circulated through the Preserve subdivision. We also have a Realtor with us tonight that has more than thirty years of experience selling homes in and around that subdivision who is ready to discuss the positive effects of the project on the community at large.

Mr. Lareau asked for clarification on whether the request is for a twelve foot variance or twenty-two feet. Building and Planning Director Sergio Mendoza stated it is a twelve foot variance. There is a thirty foot rear yard setback with an encroachment of twelve feet. We did check the recorded plat, which shows the thirty foot rear yard setback, not forty.

Nancy Frigo, Realtor with Coldwell Banker, gave a brief description of her experience in real estate and development as well as her professional experience in the area. She stated what Mr. Longoria is looking to do with the addition is not unusual and will not only add value to the neighborhood, but enjoyment for his family. It is not unusual to have such an addition or in-ground pool in this area. She stated as a Realtor, she is not concerned with the proposed project because it is only going to add value not only to his home, but to the surrounding neighbors, which is always a good thing. Ms. Frigo went on to give statistics of the prices of homes in the area of Mr. Longoria’s home, and ended with stating that she believed the project is ‘awesome’ and will only add value to the community.

Attorney Svetanoff stated in closing, we have provided a petition in favor of the project that has been signed by eight neighboring properties and we have had a Realtor speak who knows the area and knows the value it will add to the community. We are of the opinion that this is a great project for the Town of St. John.

Mr. Sheeran asked if the addition could go to the north and east rather than to the south and west in order to avoid the encroachment. He stated the request is not for just a foot or two, regardless of the value it may add to the property. We have rear yard setbacks in place for a reason. Attorney Svetanoff stated he believed the neighbors have encroached on their setbacks. Mr. Sheeran stated he cannot speak to that, but that he has been on the Board for several years and if that is the case, it should have come before the Board previously. Mr. Mendoza stated if the applicant is questioning neighboring properties we can go back and pull those records to make sure that the projects were done in compliance with the Town Codes or find out if they were done in violation, but we cannot do that tonight.

Gary Longoria, 12945 Red Lily Way, stated esthetically this is the best option we came up with. Once again, this was us working with Jack Slager, Mr. Mendoza, and the hired architects. Mr. Popovic stated he can appreciate what Mr. Longoria is trying to do with the addition and use, but his concern is the amount that it is encroaching and the potential drainage issues that it could cause the neighboring property. Mr. Longoria stated he believed at the last meeting that Mr. Sheeran had said he did not believe that drainage would be an issue. Mr. Popovic asked if a study has been done on that. Attorney Svetanoff stated we are just here for the variance tonight. Mr. Popovic stated he understood that, but the variance is creating a potential issue. Attorney Svetanoff stated your own staff person has gone through the project and given his endorsement, and the developer has given his endorsement. Mr. Lareau stated he did not believe that Mr. Mendoza had given an endorsement. Mr. Mendoza has done his job in getting you prepared for this, so the endorsement piece is a stretch. Mr. Mendoza stated that is correct. He stated his role is to assist in the process and we have worked to get a request in front of the Board for as few variance requests as possible. The professionalism offered should not be confused with an endorsement of the project. Mr. Lareau stated Mr. Mendoza does not work for the Board, we work in concert with him. He is not this Board’s staff, just to make that clear.

Mr. Birlson stated to go back to the drainage, at the last meeting the motion included a condition that the patio needs to be removed because it has a retaining wall which only allows one or two feet from the north property line to allow water to flow to the southwest. Mrs. Cardona asked if there could be amendments made to the addition where the encroachment would not be so large. If you want to proceed forward, perhaps there could be some compromise with what you are presenting. Mr. Longoria stated he has made revisions and that he currently has about $22,000 tied up in prints. We are approved right now for a pool to go about one foot from the fence line, which is again why the addition is proposed where it is proposed. He stated since he is allowed to put concrete almost all the way to his property line, he is wanting the addition to sit this way in order for it to look esthetically pleasing. Mr. Mendoza stated to comment, the pool permit is expired. Mr. Longoria stated it expires on May 24th. Mr. Mendoza stated we will have to double check that. Also, we want to confirm that the proposed drawing that he presented this evening is not what was submitted as a permit so there are conflicts there as well. Mr. Lareau stated it looks larger than it was before. He stated his concern, along with the drainage and setback issue, is that the addition looks like an in-law suite.

Mrs. Cardona stated the petitioner was here last month and the petition was denied. The petitioner is now here again with no changes to the plans that have been submitted for us to review. She asked how many times the petitioner gets to come back to present this item. Attorney Decker stated at the last meeting there was a motion to approve the developmental variance, but that motion failed because it did not garner three votes at the meeting. Indiana Code provides that at Board of Zoning Appeals shall approve or deny variances from the development standards of the Zoning Ordinance. The Board may impose reasonable conditions as part of the Board’s approval. A variance may be approved under this section only upon a determination in writing that approval will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare of the community, the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be affected in a substantially adverse manner, and that the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property. Those standards mirror our Zoning Ordinance, and the applicant is required to satisfy all three of those criteria in making the request for the variance. We are meeting tonight because there has been no affirmative vote to either confirm or deny the application. He stated in retrospect, perhaps that could have been considered at the last meeting if there was going to be a separate motion to deny the variance, but that motion was never made. Typically when the presentation is made to the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Board will consider that and make a motion to either approve or deny the application. Mr. Lareau asked since the motion failed the last time, should a new motion have been made to deny the request. Attorney Decker stated yes because the motion must be to either approve or deny, with a passing vote.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to deny BZA 2023-04, a variance from StJMC 24-82 et seq. StJMC 24-95(d)(4) to allow an addition to the current home that will encroach into the rear yard setback by approximately twelve feet, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by roll call vote three to two.
Ayes – Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays – Bob Birlson and Yolanda Cardona

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:27 P.M.
Mark LareauYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
04-17-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf
05-15-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, May 15, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

March 20, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mrs. Cardona made a motion to approve the March 20, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

April 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the April 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting minutes, seconded by Mrs. Cardona and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Mark Lareau
Nays - None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-06 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-94 and StJMC 24-461 (b) to exceed the existing 217 square feet of additional accessory buildings and use by an additional 216 square feet for a 12’x18’ covered patio, at 9300 Monix Drive, St. John, IN; Theodore & Renee Schilling (Property Owners), Charlie Hoffman (Schilling Construction).
Charlie Hoffman, Schilling Construction, stated the objective is to extend the roof of the existing pool house further east to install a covered patio over the table and chairs area that is shown. This will not be a free standing patio, but tied in to the existing roof, which creates the reason for the variance. Mr. Lareau asked if it would be tied in for esthetics. Mr. Hoffman stated more so to make sure the structure is more solid than a freestanding structure. Mr. Lareau asked if the roofline would tie in to the house as well. Mr. Hoffman stated no, it would not tie in to the house. Mr. Lareau asked if the fence would need to be taken down. Mr. Hoffman stated the fence would be adjusted and brought further out to accommodate the patio. Mr. Lareau asked if there were any easements or building lines that would need to be considered in the adjustment of the fence. Mr. Hoffman stated no. There will be 6” x 6” corner posts and we will reroof the building as we roof the covered patio. There will be nothing walled in other than the shared wall and the fence will still be there in order to hide site from the road. Mr. Birlson asked if three sides would be open. Mr. Hoffman stated that was correct. Mr. Birlson stated he assumed the fence would move further south and come back to tie in by the house like it currently is once the structure is up. Mr. Hoffman stated that was correct. They will still only be fencing in this area around the pool, not the entire yard.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-06 Development Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-06 Development Variance

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-94 and StJMC 24-461 (b) to allow for an additional 216 square feet of accessory buildings and use for a covered patio, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mrs. Cardona and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:12 P.M.
Mark LareauYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
06-19-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

June 19, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, June 19, 2023 at 7:01 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Sergio Mendoza, Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; and Brendan Sheeran, Secretary.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Popovic stated he would be abstaining from the approval of the May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting minutes. Since a majority vote would not be obtained, Mr. Birlson made a motion to defer the approval of the May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting minutes, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays - None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-07 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a Personal Service Use (Nail Salon) within the US 41 Overlay District, at 10033 Wicker Avenue St. John, IN; Top Nail (Applicant/Owner), Trung Vo (Agent), Paul DeBoer (Building Owner).
Trung Vo, 9465 VanBuren Ct. Crown Point, IN, stated they would like to open a new nail salon in St. John. Mr. Lareau asked if they had another nail salon currently. Mr. Vo stated this would be the first one. Mr. Birlson asked how many customers they were expecting per day. Mr. Vo stated we are expecting one hundred people in the space because we have twenty pedicure chairs and twenty-four manicure tables. Mr. Lareau asked if there would be enough parking spaces. Building and Planning Director Sergio Mendoza stated the parking spaces were designed based on the square footage space of the complex. Mr. Lareau stated if there are one hundred customers per day, and ten business hours per day, that would be ten parking spots that will be taken up at any given time. Mr. Mendoza stated there are ninety-three parking spaces. Only ninety-two were required. Mr. Lareau asked since there are twenty stations, would there be twenty employees. Mr. Vo stated they would only have ten employees total. One hundred clients per day is a high number, which would not be an everyday occurrence. Discussion followed regarding the hours of operation.

Paul DeBoer, Building Owner, stated parking has never been an issue in this complex. Mr. Popovic asked what the personal service use was. Mr. Lareau stated a nail salon is considered a personal service use. Board Attorney, Adam Decker, stated personal services are designated as a special exception in the US 41 Overlay. They are defined to mean services directly to the consumer at the site of the business. The Zoning Code requires that this type of use be considered by the Board of Zoning Appeals for either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council before it is authorized. The Board of Zoning Appeals may impose any number of conditions that it may find necessary such as designating a certain use. Mr. Birlson asked if they planned on providing any other service than nails. Mr. Vo stated no. Town Manager, Joseph Wiszowaty, asked if there would be any retail sales. Mr. Vo stated no.

Open to Public Hearing BZA 2023-07 Special Exception
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-07 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the special exception from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a personal service use within the US 41 Overlay District, including the condition that the only personal service use allowed at this location may be a nail salon. The favorable recommendation included Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays - None

B. 2023-08 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) and StJMC 24-520 to install a wrought iron fence that is less than eight (8) feet from the street right-of-way and encroaches in to the vision clearance triangle, at 11211 W. 93rd Avenue St. John, IN; Evan Laviolette (First Group Engineers), Joseph Wiszowaty (Town Manager).
Evan Laviolette, First Group Engineers, stated the reason for the fence on the corner is due to the drop in grade from the sidewalk to the parking lot. Depending on where you are on the sidewalk, there will be a four to twelve inch drop. On the east side of the site, we are going to clean up the parking lot and install a curb and fence which will allow us to raise the grade a little bit. This fence will be within the right-of-way as well as the vision clearance triangle, which is the reason we need the variance. We are staying with a 50% open fence. Mr. Laviolette spoke in detail about the location of each section of proposed fencing and curb.

Mr. Lareau asked how tall the fence would be at the corner. Mr. Laviolette stated the fence will be forty-two inches high. Mr. Lareau asked what the spacing would be between the fence posts. Mr. Laviolette stated he was not sure exactly. Mr. Birlson stated per the drawings it looked to be about five inches spacing between bars. Mr. Wiszowaty asked how much the drop off was towards US 41. Mr. Laviolette stated it varies between four and twelve inches depending on where you are at the parking lot.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-08 Development Variance
Joan Parducci, 11270 W. 93rd Ave. St. John, stated she did not understand how a fence could be installed when it impedes the vision of the people turning on that corner. For fifty years there has not been anything there. He should not be allowed to do this. Mr. Lareau stated this is part of a Town project, not a private entity. The fence that will be installed is an open-style fence, lending itself to not blocking much of the view. When people pull up to this intersection, they will be looking to the north to turn. This fence is on the south side. Mrs. Parducci stated she did not understand how this could even be considered if it would be within the vision clearance triangle. Even with it being an open fence, it will still impede the vision.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-08 Development Variance

BOARD QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/DISCUSSION
Mr. Birlson asked how far back the parking lot would need to be cut in order to raise the grade to the same elevation as the sidewalk. Mr. Wiszowaty stated in order for that to happen, the church would be losing the use of the parking lot and we would need to compensate them for that. In discussion with the church, we all felt that this was the best solution to allow the most visibility. Mr. Laviolette stated this fence will be on the south side and there will be a right turn only lane. He stated he did not believe it would become a true blockage of anyone’s vision since you will mostly be looking to the north to make that turn. The fence is also cut back from the corner a bit. If you are at the stop bar, you may not even truly be looking through the fence.

Mr. Mendoza read in to record the remonstrance letter that was submitted by Joan Parducci. See Exhibit A.

Mr. Birlson asked how high of a wall would need to be installed for safety measures. Mr. Laviolette stated he believed safety is three and a half feet. The fence would keep the pedestrians on the sidewalk and the curb would be the most cost efficient solution along with the fence to achieve that level of safety.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) and StJMC 24-520 to allow the installation of a wrought iron fence that is less than eight feet from the street right-of-way and encroaches in to the vision clearance triangle, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

C. 2023-09 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 (b) to construct a detached garage, at 12012 Wildwood Drive St. John, IN; Kathy Joy (Applicant/Owner).

Kathy Joy, 12012 Wildwood Drive, stated she was looking to tear down her existing detached garage and construct a new detached garage. Aman Barakat, Garage Guys of Indiana, Inc., stated we are hopefully going to take down the dilapidated garage and replace it with a two-car garage. It will be in the same position just closer to the home since it will increase in size from a one and a half car garage to a two-car garage. Mr. Lareau asked why the variance was being sought since there is currently a garage there. Mr. Mendoza stated per StJMC 24-96 (b) anyone seeking to erect a detached garage must receive a variance. Mr. Lareau stated he believed the project was a good one. Mrs. Joy stated she has not had her car in a garage for about thirty years due to the condition of the garage. Mr. Lareau asked if the building would match the esthetics of the home. Mr. Barakat stated it would.
Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-09 Development Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-09 Development Variance

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-96 (b) to allow the construction of a detached garage, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

D. 2023-10 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-461 to construct a one hundred and ninety-two (192) square foot storage shed which is thirty-two (32) square feet larger than what is permitted, at 14217 W. 89th Place St. John, IN; Thomas Frazier (Applicant/Owner).
Thomas Frazier, 14217 W. 89th Place, stated he had put up a shed for lawn equipment to be stored that is a little bit larger than what is allowed. He stated the shed will match the look of the home.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-10 Development Variance
A member of the audience stated that the shed has already been installed. Mr. Lareau asked how that should be handled. Mr. Mendoza stated that is why they are here for the variance. If the variance is denied they would need to remove thirty-two square feet from the shed.

John Hetling, 14181 89th Place, stated he has seen the shed from his backyard and it does not look like an overly large, obnoxious shed. He stated he would be in support of the variance.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-10 Development Variance

BOARD QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/DISCUSSION
Mr. Popovic asked why a permit was not pulled. Mr. Frazier replied stupidity. Mr. Birlson asked if it was on a concrete slab. Mr. Frazier stated it was. Mr. Popovic asked if an inspection has been done. Mr. Mendoza stated a permit has not been pulled yet. If the variance is obtained, then they will be able to pull an after the fact permit. Mr. Popovic asked for the details of the concrete slab. Mr. Frazier stated it was a five inch slab with four inches of stone, a treated bottom plate, and anchor bolts. Mr. Popovic asked the height of the shed. Mr. Frazier stated it was twelve feet tall. Mr. Birlson asked if someone noticed the shed being installed. Mr. Frazier stated he believed Code Enforcement saw it when they were passing by and that is how this was brought to our attention. Mr. Wiszowaty asked if electric was run to it. Mr. Frazier stated no.

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-461 to construct a one hundred and ninety-two square foot shed, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

Mr. Mendoza introduced Massie Westerfield to the Board, the Building and Planning Department summer intern, and gave the Board background on her studies and duties during her internship.

Alvin Cockerham, 10317 Joliet Street, stated there was a recent fire in his garage and he wanted to bring his concerns from that day to the Board. He stated that it took a very long time for the fire hydrant to be opened and wanted to make sure that the hydrants are being exercised and maintained on a regular basis in order to avoid this issue in the future. Mr. Lareau stated this was not the Board to handle such matters. Mr. Wiszowaty suggested that Mr. Cockerham come to the Council or Water Board meetings with is concerns so they can be addressed.

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:50 P.M.
Mark LareauYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
06-19-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf
07-17-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

July 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Vice-Chairman Yolanda Cardona called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, July 17, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran, Secretary.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; and Sergio Mendoza, Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Mark Lareau, Chairman; and Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the May 15, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes and one abstention by Mr. Popovic.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Brendan Sheeran
Abstain – Drago Popovic
Nays – None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

Sergio Mendoza, Building and Planning Director, stated that petitions 2023-11, 2023-13, and 2023-14 have requested to be deferred to the August meeting because they did not meet the public hearing notice requirements.

Mr. Popovic made a motion to defer petitions 2023-11, 2023-13, and 2023-14 to the August regular meeting, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nays – None

A. 2023-11 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-302 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a Drive-In Restaurant in the Town Center District and the US 41 Overlay District, at 9525 Wicker Avenue St. John, IN; CLD Holings, LLC. (Applicant/Owner), James Hus and Russ Pozen (DVG).
B. 2023-12 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-262 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to operate a small scale grain milling processing facility, at 9601 Industrial Drive, Suite A, St. John, IN; Wesley Austin (Applicant/Owner).
Wesley Austin, Applicant/Owner, stated the facility itself will be considered a nano distillery where we will do our own organic grain milling, which will only be done in two to four hundred pound batches per weekend. We do have experience in this line of work and understand the process of it as well as know that we will not create a hazard to any of the surrounding areas. Anything that has to do with debris will be transported for feed to a local farmer and will not be distributed in to the sewer systems. Mr. Sheeran asked if the waste would be hauled out. Mr. Austin stated ideally he would like the farmer to pick it up, but he does have a box truck that could be loaded. Mr. Sheeran asked if there was any sort of monitoring or reporting through the state for that. Mr. Austin stated there are no current standards in place for reporting. He then gave a description of the process for the milling and the systems in place that would not allow any unwanted items to get in to the sewer systems.

Mr. Birlson asked how many gallons of liquor would be distilled from the two to four hundred pound batches. Mr. Austin stated realistically he would like to do one thirty gallon barrel per week, but depending on funding, that may only occur every other week. Aging is two years, at which point we will be able to then distribute to local bars, restaurants, and stores. Mr. Sheeran stated you are just distributing. Mr. Austin stated that is correct. There will be no public in the building. After two years we may revisit this due to available storage space and we may have to find a larger facility. Mr. Birlson asked if the thirty gallon barrel per week was on the low end. Mr. Austin stated that is actually on the high end. Mr. Birlson asked about the amount of dust that is created while processing the grains. Mr. Austin stated it is very minimal. There is dust, but we are very good about cleaning up after ourselves. Generally on a dry day, we are processing outside of the overhead door on the garage and using power washers and brooms to clean during as well as after so that the mess does not get too far. Mr. Birlson asked if the grain comes in one hundred pound bags. Mr. Austin stated that is correct, but he will also be bringing in fifteen hundred pound totes. Mr. Austin went on to give a brief description of the business itself and the products that he has distilled in the past along with what they are looking to create at this facility.

Mr. Popovic asked if there were any hazards with the still that is being used. Mr. Austin stated technically there is the risk of fire since alcohol is flammable. We do have four years of experience doing this using the same style still we are going to be using. The still is heated by elements internally so there are no outward flames, rather it is a matter of gaging pressures. There are pressure relief valves on all of the equipment as well, so unless we are really bad at what we do, there should not be any kind of safety concerns. Mr. Austin stated his day job is running Stevenson Crane and dealing with safety concerns from staff and sales teams. From that aspect, he stated he is not naïve to the fact that there are always concerns to be aware of. Typically in distilling, issues occur when people have never run the equipment before or do not know what they are doing. Outside of a handful of distilling schools or having the opportunity to distill under someone and learn the process, most people that start distilling have no experience. That is not us. We have four years of experience distilling on a weekly basis and have worked under other distillers like Thornton’s Distillery in Thornton, Illinois as well as other groups. Mr. Popovic asked what types of safety protocols were in place. Mr. Austin stated the number one thing are the pressure valves and not creating pressure that cannot find a way to release. It is an open system, meaning we do not stuff copper in to our column. Mr. Austin went on to describe the pot still, column, and the cooling system and their functions. He stated he does not leave his station during the distilling process and typically has an outside door open as he believes it is better to not have an enclosed area at all times.

Mrs. Cardona asked who would be operating the machines. Mr. Austin stated it would be him and his partner only, no employees. Mrs. Cardona stated that Mr. Austin had mentioned they would only distill on the weekends and asked if there would be no activity during the week. Mr. Austin stated that was correct and that the area the facility is in seems to be mainly empty on the weekends. Mr. Birlson asked if there were concerns for storage. If you distill every week and get thirty gallons per week, multiply that by one hundred and four weekends over two years and that number gets pretty high. Mr. Austin stated he had given the high end of that number and will more than likely only be distilling every other weekend for a while. We have rackable storage that can hold four barrels deep and six racks high, so realistically with funding, we should be able to make the two years before worrying about storage. The goal is to start distributing and creating income for the business in two years and then look in to another storage facility hopefully within the same area.

Mrs. Cardona asked if Mr. Austin could foresee the amount of milling going up relatively soon from the four hundred pounds per weekend. Mr. Austin stated not until funds start coming in because, until then, everything is coming out of our pockets. He stated he specifically moved here from Illinois to start this business as Indiana is friendlier to this type of project whereas in Illinois it would take a much longer time to be profitable. Mr. Birlson asked if the fire department has been contacted and if they had any concerns over the alcohol once it is barreled since it is flammable. Mr. Austin stated he did reach out to them and the local fire department stated they did not have many concerns since majority of regulations will come from Lake County and the State of Indiana. We do have the preliminary approval for our federal license and according to federal law, you are not allowed more than two hundred gallons of open alcohol. Once the alcohol is barreled or bottled, it is not considered open. Theoretically there could be collection pots for rerun material, but that will be in a stainless steel pot and closed. Mr. Birlson asked if St. John water was being used. Mr. Austin stated he is using Town water.

Mrs. Cardona asked if Mr. Austin had something in writing from the fire department stating they have no concerns. Mr. Austin stated he may have it in an email and can go back to find it. Mrs. Cardona asked if Lake County has been contacted since it was stated by the fire department that they may have regulations or concerns. Mr. Austin stated he had not reached out to County, but his partner did have discussions with the State of Indiana. The individual he spoke to at the State indicated that Indiana is wanting to be the next Kentucky and they are wanting to bring in more spirit and distilling manufacturers, and that they would do whatever they could to help us through the process. We cannot start the process of distilling until we have our federal license, which we cannot fully receive until we meet the local requirements such as this special exception. The Tax and Trade Bureau will only inspect our facility once we are set up and ready to distill. Mr. Austin stated he does need to do some minor renovations to the facility in order to get it ready, and that there is currently a barrel shortage that will push him out to September before anything can be barreled. We knew this process would take a while to get through, so we tried to start early.

Open to Public Hearing BZA 2023-12 Special Exception
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-12 Special Exception

BOARD DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Popovic asked if there are floor drains. Mr. Austin stated not currently, but we are having them installed. We decided to go through that process after speaking with Public Works and getting their input. Mr. Popovic asked if there was a fire suppression system in the building already. Mr. Austin stated there is not. Mr. Popovic asked if one was being installed. Mr. Austin stated they did not have plans to. We did speak to the fire department who stated there was nothing specific they would require by way of a fire suppression system. He stated he did not remember who he spoke to, but could find the correspondence and forward it to the Board. Once we get built out, the fire department will still need to come to do their inspections. Mr. Popovic asked again if there was a dust collection system. Mr. Austin stated we do not have one. We will hand clean for the most part. Mrs. Cardona asked how loud the machine is. Mr. Austin stated less than a lawnmower. Mr. Birlson asked about the dust that will be emitted. Mr. Austin stated the dust that is created does not collect over a large area. It mainly stays around the machine and we will hand sweep everything and then pressure wash it to clean any residual. Mr. Birlson asked if they were milling outside or inside. Mr. Austin stated we mill just outside of the garage door.

Mr. Popovic stated this is a bit of uncharted territory for us and we are wanting to do our due diligence. Mr. Austin stated he understood. Mr. Popovic stated his main concern was the lack of fire suppression in the building and the hazard it could impose on the surrounding area. Board Attorney, Adam Decker, stated as a reminder, the Board can impose any conditions they feel are reasonable to the recommendation it makes to the Town Council. Mr. Popovic asked what would happen if there were no recommendation from this Board. Mr. Mendoza stated it would still be forwarded to the Town Council with minutes and any findings from this Board and the applicant with no recommendation. Mr. Sheeran stated it may be helpful to forward correspondence with the fire department to the Council for their review and anything else we do not have right now. Obviously fire suppression and dust are the biggest concerns so anything that would help alleviate those concerns and questions would be helpful. Mr. Austin stated he could gather that information and speak with the State as well and have more to present to the Town Council. Mr. Austin noted how the facility will be laid out and that outlets will be elevated and any machines that could spark will be kept within their own separate space in the building.

Mr. Sheeran stated he would feel more comfortable with sending no recommendation, not because he did not like the idea, but because there is further information needed that could be collected in the meantime and presented to the Town Council. Mr. Birlson agreed and stated he wanted to see the business succeed, but there are certain concerns that we would like answered.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to send no recommendation to the Town Council for the special exception from StJMC 24-262 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to operate a small scale grain milling processing facility, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nays – None

C. 2023-13 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a medical office use within the US 41 Overlay District, at 9321 Wicker Avenue, Suite 101, St. John, IN; Kara Clark (Applicant/Owner), James Wieser (Wieser & Wyllie, LLP).
D. 2023-14 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-192 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow the sale of tobacco and vape products within a C-2 Zoning District and the US 231 Overlay District, at 10845 Parrish Avenue, St. John, IN; S.R. Ande, LLC (Applicant/Owner), Jeff Brant (Agent).

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

E. PUBLIC HEARING NOTICES: Review proposed public hearing notice signs, Sergio Mendoza (Building and Planning Director).
Mr. Mendoza stated currently when a notice goes out, a sign is posted notifying the public of the public hearing. The practice has been to order a four by four sign from Public Works that shows the public hearing information, then the petitioner picks up the sign and displays it on their property. It is becoming cumbersome and expensive to keep up with these boards, so in collaboration with Public Works, we are proposing that we move to the yard signs that can be posted closer to the street for viewing or even create multiple signs if necessary to have a clearer advertisement of the public hearing. Mr. Mendoza showed the picture of what is being proposed and noted that other neighboring communities have been using these signs as well. Mr. Sheeran asked if it is cheaper than what is being done now. Mr. Mendoza stated yes. It also gives staff more control over who is getting the sign and the information that is on it. Mr. Sheeran asked if multiple signs would be needed. Mr. Mendoza stated if it is a corner lot we would create more than one so that the notice is properly seen.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the new public hearing signs, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nays – None

PUBLIC COMMENT

Michael Bouvat, 9291 W. 103rd Place St. John, stated he knew the special exception for the vape shop had been deferred, but the request has stirred up some discussion within The Gates of St. John. There is strong opposition to have a tobacco/vape shop within The Gates especially along US 231. We understand that it is currently not allowed in that area, and we are asking that the Board keep it that way.

Tim Bots, 9180 W. 107th Place St. John, stated he was also concerned about the vape shop and asked if there were any codes set up that restrict the distance a vape shop is allowed to be from a preschool. He stated he thought there were restrictions in place. Mr. Sheeran agreed and stated he thought there were as well. Mr. Mendoza stated the property owner would need to check State regulations. He stated he would contact the property owner to see if they have done so.

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mrs. Cardona adjourned the meeting at 7:48 P.M.
Robert BirlsonYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Member      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
08-21-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

August 21, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, August 21, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in-person: Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; and Jon Gill, Interim Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Yolanda Cardona, Vice-Chairman; and Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

July 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the July 17, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with three ayes and one abstention.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nays – None
Abstain – Mark Lareau

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-11 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a Drive-In Restaurant in the US 41 Overlay District, at 9525 Wicker Avenue St. John, IN; CLD Holdings, LLC. (Applicant/Owner), James Hus and Russ Pozen (DVG).
James Hus, DVG, stated we are requesting a type of drive-in restaurant within the US 41 Overlay District. We are proposing a Chipotle restaurant at this site that will hold what they have trademarked as a “Chipotlane”, which is different from a normal drive-thru. This lane does not allow a customer to drive up and order their food, rather they have to purchase and pay for their items through their phone and drive to the window strictly to pick up their food. This concept is wildly popular and has been installed at over five hundred Chipotle sites since November 2022 nationwide. Mr. Hus stated because there are only two steps, a daily average que is only two cars with four cars or less 98% of the day, and beyond four cars only 2% of the day. In the driving lane there is space for seven cars with an addition space within the parking lot for another seven cars, so the negative aspects of a typical drive-thru are not present. Mr. Hus stated the average transaction time at a Chipotlane is one-third of the national average time across a traditional drive-thru.

Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Adam Decker if there was a specific portion of the Zoning Ordinance that listed why a drive-in is a special exception. Attorney Decker stated special exceptions are not defined by the Town Code, nor are they defined by State Code. Essentially a special exception is a permitted use, but conditions or exceptions can be placed on the approval. Special exceptions hold the public hearing through the Board of Zoning Appeals which gives a favorable, unfavorable, or no recommendation to the Town Council, who ultimately has the final say.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11 Special Exception
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the special exception from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a drive-in restaurant within the US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

B. 2023-11a USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow the use of outdoor seating within the US 41 Overlay District, at 9525 Wicker Avenue St. John, IN; CLD Holdings, LLC. (Applicant/Owner), James Hus and Russ Pozen (DVG).
James Hus, DVG, stated we are requesting that a small amount of outdoor seating be allowed in front of the building. Mr. Lareau stated that seems to be typical of Chipotle. Mr. Hus agreed. Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker if he knew of any specific reason why the Code was writing to require this to be a use variance. Attorney Decker stated he could not speak on as to why, only that when the US 41 Overlay District was created, it was determined that this use would not be permitted as part of objectives that were set out in the Comprehensive Plan.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11 Special Exception
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the use variance from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow outdoor seating within the US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays – None

C. 2023-11b DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24- 345(a), StJMC 24-346, StJMC 24-346(2), StJMC 24-346(4), StJMC 24-346(5), StJMC 24-346(6), StJMC 24- 347(b), StJMC 24-519(c)(1) & (3), StJMC 24-525(a)(1) & (2), StJMC 24-525(a)(3), StJMC 24-525(c)(1), StJMC 24-525(c)(4), StJMC 24-525(d), StJMC 24-525(c)(e), StJMC 24-519, StJMC 24-525(f), StJMC 24- 525(g), StJMC 24-555(e)(1)(a), StJMC 24-555(e)(2)(a), and StJMC 24-355(a)(1) to develop a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District that is 0.93 acres in size, 1.07 acres less than the 2 acre minimum; to develop a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District who’s longest axis is perpendicular to the adjoining highway rather than parallel to the adjoining highway; to allow a portion of the site’s parking to be in front of the building within the US 41 Overlay District; to allow the rear yard setback to be 15 feet instead of 45 feet from the east neighboring parcel that is currently zoned residential; to develop a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District who’s parcel width is 43% of its depth, 7% less than the 50% minimum; to build a structure within the US 41 Overlay District that is approximately 2,200 square feet of gross floor area, which is 12,800 square feet less than the 15,000 square feet minimum; to allow a proposed parcel coverage of 72%, which is 7% greater than the maximum parcel coverage allowed of 65%; to allow parking between the US 41 right-of-way and the front build-to line of the building; to allow a buffer yard of less than 15 feet adjacent to Commercial property and less than 40 feet adjacent to existing residences; to allow a greenbelt of less than 30 feet in width; to allow the planting of 3 ornamental trees, 41 shrubs and perennials in lieu of the required 5 shade trees, 3 ornamental trees, and 10 shrubs; to allow the developer to not install planting areas equal to an area measuring 25 feet in depth by the width of the front of the building plus 20 feet; to allow the planting of 2 shade trees, 18 shrubs and perennials within the parking lot in lieu of 1 shade tree and 5 shrubs for every 9 parking spaces provided, or not less than 18 trees per acre of parking; to allow less than 15% of planting within the rear yard as extensive shielding vegetation will remain in place at the eastern property line; to allow the developer to minimize greenbelt buffers as reasonable effort has been made to provide side yard landscaping to the extent practicable; to allow the total landscaped area to be 7.4% of the project area, 7.6% less than the 15% minimum required; to allow the combined area of all permanent ground, wall and window signs to be 104.7 square feet, 4.7 square feet above the maximum of 100 square feet; to allow a total of 3 permanent illuminated signs when the maximum is 2 permanent signs; and to allow the refuse storage structure to be fully enclosed with the exception of a roof structure, at 9525 Wicker Avenue St. John, IN; CLD Holdings, LLC. (Applicant/Owner), James Hus and Russ Pozen (DVG).
James Hus, DVG, gave an overview of the proposed site plan and the site’s surrounding zoning. See Exhibit A. Mr. Hus touched on the difficulties that this site has based on its size when it comes to complying with the landscape standards that are written within the US 41 Overlay District. He also mentioned that this particular lot was subdivided well before the US 41 Overlay District was created. There is very little that we could do regarding the bulk and landscape requirements that compliance with one would not come at the expense of another. By virtue of having this size of a lot within the Overlay District, development of any kind would be requesting similar variances as we are. Mr. Hus stated at the last Plan Commission meeting the need for a right turn lane on US 41was discussed. After some research, a turn lane is only warranted on a four-lane highway when the speed is at least 55mph, which here it is only 35mph. Furthermore, the proposed traffic to the site is only one-third of the amount where a turn lane would be warranted per the State.

Mr. Lareau stated he understood that this lot had been developed previously and had been this size since it was first developed, but he believed that it was too small of a lot for what was being proposed. Mr. Birlson asked if another business came in, would they have the same problems with only being .93 acres. Interim Building and Planning Director Jon Gill stated unless they bought land around them, that is currently all developed, and created a one-lot subdivision that is two acres, there is no way that anything could go on here without variances. Mr. Birlson asked if the Town would rather have the site stay empty until someone is able to buy the land to create the appropriate sized lot, or develop the parcel as is. Mr. Lareau stated he believed you could not grant a variance just based on that. Mr. Birlson stated so we could wait until another business buys the lot and develops it. Mr. Gill stated the lot size is not going to change and it will still need those variances that pertain to the lot size and shape. Mr. Lareau stated a business could still come in that would not require so many variances. Attorney Decker stated the prior use was grandfathered as a legal non-conforming use at the time the US 41 Overlay District was created, and they were allowed to continue their business as the real estate office. However, any time there is a change in the use that triggers the alternative use to be approved. In the future any alternative use proposed for this site will need a variance from the development standards due to the size of the lot. Mr. Lareau stated he understood, but there are various other requests that may not be needed with a different business. Mr. Birlson stated it is a huge request with multiple variance strictly due to the size of the lot, no matter the business that comes in. Mr. Sheeran stated any business that comes in there is going to have issues with parking with how the lot is set up as well. Mr. Popovic asked how this site was chosen. Corey Detamore, CLD Holdings LLC., stated this corridor is very sought after. When this came up on the market, we had to jump on it quickly. Finding a specific site that a national corporation looks for, it has to be on a frontage road in a retail district and this was as close as we could find. Most developments we do for this specific site is 1.1 acres or less. To do a 2 acre parcel would not be feasible.

Mr. Detamore noted that the pylon sign that is currently standing will not be there which will be beneficial to the corridor. Mr. Lareau asked if a monument sign was allowed. Mr. Hus stated a monument sign is allowed in the US 41 Overlay. The variance request is for 104 square feet of sign space for the three proposed signs, when only 100 square feet is allowed. In essence, a four square foot variance. Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11b Development Variance Michael Bovat, 9291 W. 103rd Place, stated the input he has received from various residence is that of support. He stated he also supports this business.

Marty Dzieglowicz, manager of the American Legion, asked if a new turn lane coming south on US 41 would be installed. Mr. Lareau stated he believed there is already one there. Mr. Dzieglowicz stated he did not think there was a turn lane there.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-11b Development Variance

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Hus stated regarding the last comment, there is already an existing turn lane on southbound US 41. Mr. Detamore explained that the current entrance is being moved north to align with the intersection of 95th and US 41 in case there is a future light.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-345(a) to allow the development of a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District that is 0.93 acres in size, 1.07 acres less than the 2 acre minimum, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by roll call vote with three ayes and one nay.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nay – Mark Lareau

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346 to allow the development of a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District who’s longest axis is perpendicular to the adjoining highway rather than parallel to the adjoining highway, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by roll call vote with three ayes and one nay.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran
Nay – Mark Lareau

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Sheeran stated he assumed that they would not meet parking requirements if they were required to move all of the parking spaces to the back of the building. Mr. Hus stated that was correct. If we are required to add more landscaping in front, we would lose the minimum parking amount that we currently meet for the square footage of the building. Mr. Detamore stated these specialized parking spaces, like the four spots right in front of the building, are required for Chipotle. Mr. Lareau asked if the Plan Commission had reviewed the site plan. Mr. Hus stated they did not have a complete landscape packet at first, but they did have it in advance of the meeting last week. Mr. Lareau asked if they had any suggestions. Mr. Hus stated the only discussion was that of the right turn lane off of US 41 that we spoke about earlier. Mr. Birlson stated it was nice to see ten by twenty spaces for parking. Mr. Hus referred to the landscape plan that was in the packet and stated they have maximized their landscaping to make the site look as nice as possible with the space provided. Mr. Popovic asked about the space on the back of the property and if it would be landscaped. Mr. Hus stated our stormwater detention will be going in that area and there is very heavy vegetation that screens this parcel from the residential use behind it that will stay there. It was not demolished when the building was, and we do not plan on taking anything down in that area.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346 to allow a portion of the site’s parking to be in front of the building within the US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Lareau asked what was behind the parcel. Mr. Hus stated it is a residential lot that is zoned Commercial. There is about fifty feet from our rear property line to the house. The Code does make mention that if there is a residential use it falls to the residential requirements, which is the reason we are requesting this variance. If the parcel was a commercial use, we would not be requesting this next variance.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346(2) to allow the rear yard setback to be fifteen feet instead of forty-five feet from the east neighboring parcel that is currently a residential use, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346(4) to allow the development of a parcel within the US 41 Overlay District whose parcel width is 43% of its depth, 7% less than the 50% minimum, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Lareau stated the note for minimum gross floor area states that this requirement cannot be met without violating numerous other requirements. He asked what those requirements are. Mr. Hus stated if we needed to construct a building that size, we would never be able to meet parking requirements. That is just one example of what was being eluded to. Mr. Birlson asked how much seating would be inside. Mr. Detamore stated he believed there is twenty to thirty seats. They are getting smaller as business is much more about production and the use of the “Chipotlane”.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346(5) to build a structure within the US 41 Overlay District that is approximately 2,200 square feet of gross floor area, which is 12,800 square feet less than the 15,000 square feet minimum, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-346(6) to allow a parcel coverage of 72%, which is 7% greater than the maximum parcel coverage allowed of 65%, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-347(b) to allow parking between the US 41 right-of-way and the front build-to line of the building, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-519(c)(1)&(3) to allow a buffer yard of less than fifteen feet adjacent to Commercial property and less than forty feet adjacent to existing residences, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Sheeran stated there is a twenty-eight foot driving area in the front between parking spaces. That is above minimum and it may be more adventitious to us as a Town to shrink that and provide a larger green space. Mr. Hus stated he would agree, but it was a recent change that was made in order to accommodate delivery trucks. The vehicle will come after hours and will go the opposite way of traffic so they will need that width. Discussion followed on the requirements to fit the delivery truck on site.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(a)(1) & (2) to allow a greenbelt of less than thirty feet in width, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(a)(3) to allow the planting of three ornamental trees, forty-one shrubs and perennials in lieu of the required five shade trees, three ornamental trees, and ten shrubs, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(c)(1) to allow the developer to not install planting areas equal to an area measuring twenty-five feet in depth by the width of the front of the building plus twenty feet, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(c)(4) to allow the developer to not install planting areas along the building perimeter as it would negatively impact the site’s ability to adhere to other important code requirements, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(d) to allow the planting of two shade trees, eighteen shurbs and perennials within the parking lot in lieu of one shade tree and five shurbs for every nine parking spaces provided, or not less than eighteen trees per acre of parking, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(c)(e) to allow less than 15% of planting within the rear yard as extensive shielding vegetation will remain in place at the eastern property line, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(f) to allow the developer to minimize greenbelt buffers as reasonable effort has been made to provide side yard landscaping to the extent practicable, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-525(g) to allow the total landscaped area to be 7.4% of the project area, 7.6% less than the 15% minimum required, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Sheeran asked why they could not lower the size of one of the signs to meet the requirement since they are only asking for 4.7 square feet. Mr. Detamore stated Chipotle has a national sign company that has these sized per the prototype buildings. They maximize what they can for the space that is there and all of the Chipotle buildings are doing close to this size.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-555(e)(1)(a) to allow the combined area of all permanent ground, wall and window signs to be 104.7 square feet, 4.7 square feet above the maximum of 100 square feet, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-555(e)(2)(a) to allow a total of three permanent illuminated signs when the maximum is two permanent signs, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Lareau asked what the reason for no roof on the refuse structure was. Mr. Detamore stated the garbage truck needs to be able to reach the dumpster and will be unable to do that if there is a roof on the structure. The structure will be the same material as the primary structure with gates so you are unable to see inside.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-355(a)(1) to allow the refuse storage structure to be fully enclosed with the exception of a roof structure, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

D. 2023-13 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a medical office use within the US 41 Overlay District, at 9321 Wicker Avenue, Suite 101, St. John, IN; Kara Clark (Applicant/Owner), James Wieser (Wieser & Wyllie, LLP).
James Wieser, Wieser & Wyllie, LLP, stated this proposed office is within the US 41 Overlay District which prohibits medical offices, but allows hospitals and health centers. My client is a pediatric dentist and has worked under local dentist offices but is now wanting to go out on her own and open her own practice. Attorney Wieser provided the Board with information from a meeting in 2018 where a similar use was approved by the Board and Town Council within the building. He stated we do believe that this use does fit the criteria for approval of the use variance and are happy to provide any additional information.

Mr. Sheeran asked which floor the practice would be located on. Kara Clark, Applicant/Owner, stated on the first floor across from Avgo.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-13 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-13 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for the use variance from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a medical office use within the US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

E. 2023-14 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-192 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow the sale of tobacco and vape products within a C-2 Zoning District and the US 231 Overlay District, at 10845 Parrish Avenue, St. John, IN; S.R. Ande, LLC (Applicant/Owner), Jeff Brant (Agent).
Jeff Brant, Brant Construction, stated we are requesting a special exception for a proposed convenience store at this location that will sell vape and tobacco products. Their hours of operation are 9am – 9pm during the week, 9am – 8pm on Saturday, and 10am – 6pm on Sunday. They plan to have three to five employees and have broken down their sales categories as 40% convenience/grocery items, 40% tobacco items, and 20% non-liquid vape items. Currently the liquor store across the street does sell tobacco and vape products as well.

Mr. Lareau asked if this was by Kennan Liquors. Mr. Brant stated it is right across the street from Kennan. Mr. Sheeran stated very close to a residential area where kids can walk to. Mr. Brant stated the liquor store would be closer to the residential area.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-14 Special Exception
Ed Marcin, 10704 Arbor Lane, stated during the July 26, 2023 Town Council meeting a petition was presented that was signed by one hundred and sixty eight people who are against this proposed vape use. He stated the petition was given to Michael Schilling and asked if it were provided to the BZA and if it would be read in to the record. Mr. Brant’s building is approximately three hundred and fifty feet south of a childcare facility on Arbor Lane. Due to its proximity to the childcare facility and the amount of residents that have signed that petition, we are asking for an unfavorable recommendation to be made to the Council regarding this use.

Michael Bovat, 9291 W. 103rd Place, stated he agreed with Mr. Marcin. We have had many residents that are adamantly opposed to having a vape shop and would respect if the Board would take it to heart and not accept the proposal.

Wayne Pondinas, 8781 Verbena Court, stated he was not for this proposal either. He stated the petition that went to Mr. Schilling should have been given to the Board, but he was not sure what happened to it. Mr. Pondinas requested that an unfavorable recommendation be made.

Ed Marcin, 10704 Arbor Lane, stated today he stopped by the Town Hall and spoke with Gena who said she was unaware of the petition. Mr. Marcin stated he thought that the Town Manager’s office would have had it, but apparently it was not found. That document should have been here today.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-14 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council for the special exception from StJMC 24-192 and StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow the sale of tobacco and vape products within a C-2 Zoning District and the US 231 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

F. 2023-15 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-462 (c) to construct a garage addition that is twenty-two and one half inches above the highest ridgeline of the residence to which said garage is attached, at 9450 Clarmonte Drive, St. John, IN; Christopher Salazar and Lynn Kozlowski (Applicant/Owner).
Christopher Salazar, 9450 Clarmonte Drive, stated one year ago we were before the Board requesting a fourteen foot interior finished garage ceiling above finished grade, but ran in to an issue when everything was said and done. The ridgeline of the new garage exceeds the existing ridgeline by twenty-two and a half inches. The additional height was of no benefit to us, it was done simply to make the house and existing angles look as if it were all one complete piece of work. Mr. Salazar stated we do have a letter of support that has been signed by about thirty of our neighbors.

Mr. Sheeran asked if there was a permit. Mr. Gill stated there was one issued. Mr. Sheeran stated if they were asking for it, he would not approve it, but since it is already up the only option would be to take it down. Casey Wedding, Paradise Builders, stated we made the roof pitches match from the front and did not consider a height restriction on a ranch. Mr. Lareau asked the reason for the tall garage door. Mr. Salazar stated it is for the recreational vehicle to be kept off of the driveway.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-15 Development Variance
Dan Swearingen, 9628 Clarmonte Drive, stated the first home he built had an 8:12 pitch, which exceeds the height of their garage. The second home we built has the same pitch, which still exceeds the height of their garage. He stated he would plead with the Board that they grant this variance as his neighbors have put a large amount of money in to updating their home.

Mr. Lareau read in to record a remonstrance letter from Ed Marek, Claremonte Drive. See Exhibit B.

Mr. Lareau read in to record a petition of support from neighboring properties. See Exhibit C.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-15 Development Variance

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Mr. Popovic stated he believed this was a situation that fell between the cracks with the builder not knowing, but it’s concerning that someone can build something and then just ask for forgiveness later. Mr. Lareau asked what other remedy there was other than tearing it down. Mr. Gill stated we would not be able to approve the final inspection of the structure. The original request showed the two ridgelines meeting, even though we do have that code in our Zoning Ordinance. In order to make everything flow, a field change was made to make it look like less of an addition. Mr. Lareau asked if anyone from the Town visits sites like this. Mr. Gill stated we do inspections throughout the process. Mr. Lareau asked how this was missed. Mr. Gill stated it was in process when it was caught. Mr. Wedding stated it was an honest mistake on his part because he did not catch it and did not even think there would be an issue with the height on a ranch. Mr. Lareau stated he did not understand how this was not caught before the project was complete and why a stop work order was not given. Mr. Gill stated the rafters were cut and the roof was shingled when it was caught. Mr. Lareau argued the fact that someone still missed something.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-462(c) to construct a garage addition that is twenty-two and one half inches above the highest ridgeline of the residence to which said garage is attached, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

Mr. Popovic asked if something like this is ever found moving forward, would a fine be able to be imposed. Attorney Decker stated for purposes of the application for the variance, it either has to be approved or denied. If it were denied, they would have to take it down and build it in accordance with our Zoning Ordinance. There is a provision in our Zoning Ordinance that allows for fines, but more research would need to be done to see if that could be imposed. Mr. Lareau stated his concern is avoiding things like this in the future. Mr. Gill stated it is difficult to keep variances attached to properties and have our inspectors, some full time some part time, aware of those with how our system works. The inspectors inspect items that follow international building code and are not necessarily privy to variances that are granted or not granted. Currently we do not have a system that allows these files to be shared with inspectors in the field. Mr. Popovic stated variances like this need to be accessible. Mr. Lareau agreed.

G. 2023-16 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-554(f), StJMC 24-554(f)(1), StJMC 24-554(f)(2), StJMC 24-554(b)(4), and StJMC 24-492 to allow an electronic message church bulletin/sign; to allow sign square footage of three hundred and sixty-four (364) square feet or less, a maximum of three hundred and fifty-two (352) square feet larger than permitted; to allow a sign height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; to allow the sign location to be within the street right-of-way and to have a height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; and to allow the existing parking space count or greater, at 11211 W. 93rd Avenue and 9330 Wicker Avenue, St. John, IN; St. John the Evangelist Church (Applicant/Owner), Kevin Hunt (Agent/Attorney).
Kevin Hunt, Schilling Development, stated the church would like to obtain some developmental variances for new signage they have been working on. Earlier this year we assisted the church when they were working through the street widening project in Town. At that time, both the church and the Town had some items they needed taken care of, one being the house that was taken down and right-of-way granted. Initially the plan was a fence at the corner of 93rd and US 41, however as the church had some time to think about it, some plans adjusted. The proposed sign is different from the initial proposal of a metal sign and is instead a brick sign that matches the building. Attorney Hunt stated as the plan for the sign evolved, we thought of making more of a welcoming area for St. John. The church was unsure of how the Town was going to maintain the proposed fence and instead are proposing a plaza area that the church will maintain. The church has very high landscaping standards and would like to continue this idea on to where the sign will be located.

Mr. Lareau asked if the fence was no longer being installed. Attorney Hunt stated the fence is out. Mr. Lareau asked if the Plan Commission has already seen this. Attorney Hunt stated he will be in front of the Plan Commission on September 20th and October 4th. Mr. Sheeran stated that is a big sign. Mr. Lareau stated the sign size seems off. Attorney Hunt stated there were lengthy conversations with Sergio Mendoza regarding the sign and there are more strict codes for church bulletins/signs, which is only a max of twelve square feet. Attorney Decker agreed with the findings of the code. Discussion followed regarding the current signs along US 41 and their particular sign sizes.

Mr. Lareau stated the sign still seems large. Attorney Hunt stated it is not as large as the sign across the street that advertises Avgo. This sign does fit within what is currently along US 41, and the majority of the size comes from the structure surrounding the actual sign. Attorney Hunt stated there is a drop off from the sidewalk that will make this sign seem not as high as if it were at street level. Mr. Sheeran stated it is a good looking sign, but it is large. Attorney Hunt stated the actual LED sign is four foot by nine foot, which is relatively the same size as other signs.

Mr. Birlson asked about the right-of-way variance. Attorney Hunt stated we had to move the sign so it is not fully in the right-of-way, but the landscaping and bollards will most likely fall within the right-of-way. Mr. Lareau asked if the sign would be on both sides. Attorney Hunt stated that was correct. A lot of the sign is decorative. Mr. Lareau asked the difference in height between the curb level and where this is being built. Attorney Hunt stated about three feet. There will also need to be a little bit of work done in that area for drainage. He also stated that when they go before the Plan Commission, they will have a site plan that shows the parking spaces. There are approximately one hundred and twelve spots currently and we are requesting to at least hit that one hundred and twelve spots. Mr. Lareau asked what is required. Attorney Hunt stated about one hundred and thirty-seven. We may get there depending on how the new asphalt area will plan out, but we are not sure on that currently.

Mr. Popovic asked if the difference in grade would change after it is landscaped. Attorney Hunt stated we were going to discuss that tomorrow when we meet with First Group Engineering. We will run in to some issues with the old Joliet Road that used to run through the parking lot, but we will be able to work that out. Mr. Lareau stated he feels that there are a lot of variables that have not been answered and suggested deferring the matter in order to receive more defined information. Attorney Hunt stated he understood, but we are trying to coordinate with the Town and their efforts on the 93rd project. Mr. Lareau stated there are variables that we do not have full information on and we would like to hear from the Plan Commission as well. Until we know where some of these things are going to fall, he stated he did not feel comfortable making a decision. Attorney Hunt stated the work that needs to be done with First Group does not necessarily affect the variances. Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker how the matter should be handled if they are to defer. Attorney Decker stated he recommended opening the public hearing and the Board may defer the matter if that is the decision of the Board. The Board can also hold open the hearing to allow anyone to make comment or remonstrate on any information that is given between now and the next meeting.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-16 Development Variance
Michael Bovat, 9291 W. 103rd Place, stated what was in the paper did not necessarily match what was presented. When you talk about a large sign in the location he is presenting, it seems that it would be a distraction. He stated he would also be opposed to allowing the sign within the right-of-way since we just purchased that right-of-way. Mr. Bovat stated he did not know if anyone on the Board attended the church, but they may want to recuse themselves from the vote. This seems like a very large sign that does not fit what we are looking for in St. John.

Wayne Pondinas, 8781 Verbena Court, stated Mr. Lareau had commented about the project taking so long. Mr. Lareau interrupted and stated the project details do not have to do with this petition. Mr. Pondinas stated he understood. When this project started, the church wanted a retaining wall installed, which the Town was going to pay for. The engineers decided to lower the road so we needed to tear the house down, and we also paved their parking lot and removed the hydrant on the corner. He agreed with Mr. Lareau that more planning was needed due to the extra work that the Town has done on this project. Right now, more clarity is needed on the project before a decision can be made.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-16 Development Variance

DISCUSSION/COMMENTS/QUESTIONS
Attorney Hunt stated the variances are set forth fairly clearly, but any specific questions can be discussed. The sign is not going in the right-of-way, to be clear. Mr. Lareau stated that is what is listed. Attorney Hunt stated the plaza area may be in the right-of-way. The request is to put the sign up against the right-of-way. He stated he understood there were multiple changes made, and there was a request for a fence, but the Town did not need to expend further resources maintaining that area when the church could do it themselves. Mr. Birlson suggested clearing up the petition so it is better understood and that more information be given.

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to defer BZA 2023-16 until the September meeting and to hold open the public hearing for that meeting, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes – Robert Birlson, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nay – None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 8:43 P.M.
Mark LareauBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
08-21-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf
09-18-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

September 18, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, September 18, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in person: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in-person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; and Jon Gill, Interim Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Drago Popovic and Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

August 21, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the August 21, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-17 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-372 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a church/place of worship within the US 231 Overlay District, at approximately two hundred and eighty (280) feet east of Park Place and US 231 in St. John, IN; Suncrest Christian Church (Applicant/Owner), Nathan Vis (Agent/Attorney).
Jon Gill, Interim Building and Planning Director, stated Attorney Vis had notified Town staff of the petitioner’s desire to be removed from both the Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals agendas. The petitioner will reconvene and reapply once they are ready. They will also be sending out public hearing notices once the new application is submitted and the public hearings are scheduled.
B. 2023-18 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-385(a) and StJMC 24-385(a)(1) to allow refuse that is not completely contained within the principal building or accessory building, and to allow a refuse building which does not include a roof, at 10845 Parrish Avenue, St. John, IN; S.R. Ande, LLC (Applicant/Owner), Jeff Brant (Agent).
Mr. Gill stated the petitioner was unable to provide a proof of publication from the Post Tribune and will need to re-advertise for next month’s meeting.
C. 2023-16 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: Continued Public Hearing from August 21, 2023 from StJMC 24-554(f), StJMC 24-554(f)(1), StJMC 24-554(f)(2), StJMC 24-554(b)(4), and StJMC 24-492 to allow an electronic message church bulletin/sign; to allow sign square footage of three hundred and sixty-four (364) square feet or less, a maximum of three hundred and fifty-two (352) square feet larger than permitted; to allow a sign height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; to allow the sign location to be within the street right-of-way and to have a height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; and to allow the existing parking space count or greater, at 11211 W. 93rd Avenue and 9330 Wicker Avenue, St. John, IN; St. John the Evangelist Church (Applicant/Owner), Kevin Hunt (Agent/Attorney).
Mr. Gill stated the petitioner has asked to be deferred until the October meeting to allow them time to revise their drawings and plans to hopefully reduce the amount of variances requested. Adam Decker, Board Attorney, suggested that the Board acknowledge the request to be deferred and make a motion to continue to hold the hearing open to next month’s meeting.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to continue the public hearing for BZA petition 2023-16 Development Variance for St. John Evangelist Church until the October meeting, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further questions or comments, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:09 P.M.
Mark LareauBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
10-16-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals

October 16, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, October 16, 2023 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members present in person: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, and Mark Lareau, Chairman.
Also present in person: Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Town Council Liaison; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Jon Gill, Interim Building and Planning Director.
Absent: Brendan Sheeran, Secretary
A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

September 18, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the September 18, 2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2023-16 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: Continued Public Hearing from August 21, 2023 from StJMC 24-554(f), StJMC 24-554(f)(1), StJMC 24-554(f)(2), StJMC 24-554(b)(4), and StJMC 24-492 to allow an electronic message church bulletin/sign; to allow sign square footage of three hundred and sixty-four (364) square feet or less, a maximum of three hundred and fifty-two (352) square feet larger than permitted; to allow a sign height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; to allow the sign location to be within the street right-of-way and to have a height of eighteen feet and six inches (18’ 6”), which is twelve feet and six inches (12’ 6”) higher than permitted; and to allow the existing parking space count or greater, at 11211 W. 93rd Avenue and 9330 Wicker Avenue, St. John, IN; St. John the Evangelist Church (Applicant/Owner), Kevin Hunt (Agent/Attorney).
Mr. Lareau stated we have been informed that the church would like to rescind their application. Interim Building and Planning Director, Jon Gill, stated that was correct. The Board will need to take action to close the public hearing and they will need to come back, reapply and readvertise once they are ready. Board Attorney, Adam Decker, suggested that the Board take two steps. The first is to close the public hearing, and the second is to dismiss the application that was made.

Board Action
Mr. Lareau closed the public hearing for BZA 2023-16 Development Variance.

Mr. Birlson made a motion to dismiss the application for St. John the Evangelist Church, seconded by Mrs. Cardona and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

B. 2023-18 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-385(a) and StJMC 24-385(a)(1) to allow refuse that is not completely contained within the principal building or accessory building, and to allow a refuse building which does not include a roof, at 10845 Parrish Avenue, St. John, IN; S.R. Ande, LLC (Applicant/Owner), Jeff Brant (Agent).
Jeff Brant, Brant Construction, stated he was present to request that the requirement for a refuse container roof be waived. The main reason for this request is that both refuse vendors we use say they will not be able to remove the container without damaging the roof. Also, if you look around the area, no other development has a roof over their refuse container. Mr. Popovic asked if the enclosure will be gated. Mr. Brant stated the enclosure will still have gates, just like our neighbor to the south. Mr. Birlson asked if there were any other areas in town that have a roof over their refuse enclosure. Mr. Gill stated not that he could think of. This is a common variance request at the beginning of projects. Mr. Lareau stated there may be an opportunity down the road to remove this standard from the Zoning Ordinance if it is a common request. Discussion followed.

Mr. Popovic asked if there have been any complaints on other businesses with no roof. Mr. Gill stated no. The dumpsters themselves typically have the plastic flip top lid.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-18 Development Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-18 Development Variance

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-385(a) and StJMC 24-385(a)(1) to allow a refuse that is not completely contained within the principal building or accessory building, and to allow a refuse building which does not include a roof, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, and the condition that there will be a front gate on the enclosure and the dumpster itself must have a lid. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Cardona and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

C. 2023-19 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 (b) and StJMC 24-462 (a) & (c) to allow the construction of a detached garage that is approximately sixteen feet in height, two feet taller than what is permitted, and to allow for four feet six inches of side yard, six inches less than what is permitted, at 10281 Joliet Street, St. John, IN; Deanna Mitros (Application Owner), Anna Keller & Michael Label (Agent/GCPro, LLC.).
Anna Keller, GCPro, LLC., stated there was a fire in the garage that we are requesting to rebuild. The neighbor’s garage also caught fire, but was not damaged as badly as this one. We are asking to rebuild what was there before since the slab is still usable.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-19 Development Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-19 Development Variance

Mr. Popovic asked if the garage would match the house. Ms. Keller stated that was correct. We will be supplying a material list to the Building Department tomorrow, but it will be the same as what was there before with no modifications to the design or height of what was there before. Mr. Popovic asked if the foundation was in good condition. Ms. Keller stated it is.

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-96(b) and StJMC 24-462(a) & (c) to allow the construction of a detached garage that is approximately sixteen feet in height, and to allow for a four foot six inch side yard, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, with the condition that the esthetics of the garage match the home and that the garage does not deviate from the original garage. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

D. 2023-20 DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-265 (f) to allow a minimum lot size of at least one acre within an Industrial zoning district, nine acres less than what is currently permitted, at 10501 W. Joliet Street, St. John, IN; Schilling Development (Applicant/Owner), Jack Slager (Agent).
Jack Slager, Schilling Development, stated this is a fifty-five acre parcel that we own on the south side of Joliet Street between the two sets of railroad tracks. This parcel is currently zoned Industrial and the Zoning Code requires a minimum lot size of ten acres within Industrial zonings. We have a fifty-five acre parcel, however only about thirty-five acres are usable due to the surrounding floodplain. If we were forced to adhere to the ten acres, we would only have about three lots which would not be worth developing and we would probably sell it off as a single lot. Mr. Slager stated we are proposing a business park that will be a combination of light industrial, storage, businesses, and professional offices. If we can do one acre lots, the buildings would be between 8,000 – 12,000 square feet. The Town does have requirements for parking, landscaping and lighting, but we will add additional architectural requirements such as no outside storage or on street parking. If this is approved we will be able to go to the Plan Commission and start the engineering phase. Each individual site will still need to come before the Plan Commission for site plan approval before anything can be built. Mr. Slager reviewed photos of sample buildings and site plans with the Board. See Exhibit A.

Mr. Slager stated they would be dedicating an eighty foot right-of-way with a thirty-six foot wide street to allow for a wider street and oversized cul-de-sacs. Mr. Lareau stated there could potentially be two to four businesses within a building. Mr. Slager stated potentially yes. We have posted a sign advertising this area and we have received multiple phone calls expressing interest. The majority of phone calls have been from existing St. John businesses that have outgrown their space or would like to own rather than lease. Sometimes it will be a single user on one lot, and other times the spaces will be divided in to several users that could house business incubators for plumbers or electricians that have a small staff and minimal vehicles and materials. Town Manager, Joseph Wiszowaty, stated you could have someone come in and combine lots as well. Mr. Slager stated that was correct.

Mr. Lareau asked if there could be more than four tenants in a building. Mr. Slager stated he could not envision it ever being more than four with the size of building. We want to stay away from supplies and materials being stored outside, so depending on that need would depend on how many tenants could occupy one building. Mr. Lareau asked if no outdoor storage could be a condition of the motion. Attorney Decker stated yes, it could.

Mr. Popovic stated there is an area not shown on the map between lots seven and eight that is a floodplain. Mr. Slager stated that is correct. We are going through the delineation process in order to get that mitigated. We have received the Jurisdictional Determination that shows an agreement with our delineation. Our next step will be to start engineering this and create a mitigation plan for it, which will involve the Army Corp of Engineers.

Opened to Public Hearing BZA 2023-20 Development Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petitioner.

Closed to Public Hearing BZA 2023-20 Development Variance

Attorney Decker stated he would like to clarify that a written commitment could be required that would be recorded as part of the approval, which would then encumber the property as a recorded document. A condition is not a written document, but can be included as part of any approval for a variance. Mr. Slager stated there would be a restrictive covenant that will probably go through the Plan Commission to address the outdoor storage and its definitions along with landscaping standards, etc.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve the development variance from StJMC 24-265(f) to allow a minimum lot size of at least one acre within an Industrial zoning district, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, and the commitment of no outside storage of materials. The motion was seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with four ayes.
Ayes: Robert Birlson, Yolanda Cardona, Drago Popovic, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS:

PUBLIC COMMENT

Alvin Cockerham, 10317 Joliet Street, stated he commended the Board for allowing Ms. Mitros to rebuild her garage and noted that he has seen maintenance being performed on the fire hydrants around Town, which was appreciated as well. He asked if there will be regular maintenance done. Mr. Lareau stated this is not the Board that addresses that.

ADJOURNMENT

With no further comments or questions, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:36 P.M.
Mark LareauYolanda Cardona
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairwoman
10-16-2023 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf

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