General Discussion of Master Plan

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Commission OKs master plan

Postby Big Dog » Fri Jun 24, 2005 5:07 pm

CROWN POINT | The Plan Commission approved a final draft of the city's new master plan Monday, including a new design for the rerouting of U.S. 231.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the comprehensive plan, which will head to the City Council for review. They also deemed workable a proposal by the consulting firm The Lakota Group, which suggests moving U.S. 231 through where the Bank One building stands and creating two-way traffic on the square's south side by eliminating parking.

But the design, which Lakota principal John LaMotte stressed was only a concept, drew a mixed reaction from the 30 or so people who attended the second night of a public hearing on the master plan. Former Mayor James Forsythe again was the most vocal opponent.

"You're still knocking off a corner of the square," he said. "The integrity of the square is being violated."

Forsythe said the plan wouldn't get truck traffic off the square and that two-way traffic south of the old courthouse would never work. LaMotte countered that the realignment of the road wasn't about reducing truck volume, but making turns easier and maintaining the downtown's character. According to the design, moving U.S. 231 also could allow the city to reconfigure buildings on the west side of the square and possibly turn the former bus depot into green space. More parking could be added to the area, too.

Mayor Dan Klein said Crown Point Community School Corp. Superintendent H. Steve Sprunger told him Monday that there are no plans for the land and that green space is a possibility.

The owners of several businesses on the square said they supported the design because trucks rattle their buildings and heavy traffic makes it difficult for people to pull out of parking spaces on the square. David Bryan, of Bryan Florist and Greenhouse, said the plan could be the square's "savior."

City Councilman Mike Conquest, R-at large, said the proposal was a big opportunity for the city.

"We blew part of it -- we lost the school property," he said. "We have a chance to salvage some of the rest."

Local businessman Allan Katz said he didn't think Lakota's new design took into account traffic around the square during peak hours.

LaMotte and Peter Lemmon, a senior transportation engineer for Metro Transportation, said the proposal worked in a traffic simulation program but agreed more studies needed to be done.

After more than an hour of debate, many commissioners, including John Marshall, stressed that the realignment of U.S. 231 is just a concept and might never happen.

Marshall said he was surprised there weren't more comments on plans for development along Interstate 65, which is much more likely to happen.

Carol Drasga said the city's last master plan, from 1987, contained many of the same issues, such as truck traffic around the square.

"The 2005 problems are the same," she said. "They're not getting any better. So as an office, a commission, let's get it done. Absolutely nothing was done in 1987. It may not please everybody, but you know what, change never does."

nwitimes 6/21/05
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High School land into park!!

Postby TAK » Sat Jul 02, 2005 11:41 pm

If Crown Point city leaders and citizens really want to do something worthwhile, here's an idea.

Turn all of the land where the old high school was into a park. I won't bore everyone with the history of CP, most of are here because you are interested in what happens. But what a legacy this generation could leave!!!! Has anyone just gone to look at the tremendous view of the Courthouse from the tennis courts? You talk about generating business?

This country was settled by law. If some of the old money ,and new, really wanted to leave a mark!!

But, I ramble.

I take great pride in knowing I grew up in Crown Point. I enjoy coming back there to see my family. I was fortunate to be able to see the clock from my bedroom window as kid. Everyone needs to step up and give generations of people the appreciation of the Courthouse and its symbolization and empowerment of what made Crown Point, this State and this Nation great.
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Master plan raises trail route questions

Postby Big Dog » Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:54 am

CROWN POINT | While most of the debate on the city's new master plan has been about the potential rerouting of U.S. 231, a handful of residents have other issues on their minds.

Among them is a concern about the future route of the Veterans Memorial Trail. Last month, Mitch Barloga, president of the Friends of the Veterans Memorial Parkway Inc., asked the city's Plan Commission to remove from the master plan a second option plotted out for the trail route through Crown Point.

The first option, which Barloga and his group favor, places the trail beside U.S. 231 heading to Hebron, using the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad line. The second option shows the trail running east along North Street, crossing Interstate 65 south of 109th Avenue and following the east side of I-65 south to meet up with U.S. 231 again.

The Lake County Parks and Recreation Department secured grants for the Veterans Memorial Trail in 1999, getting $1.4 million from the Indiana Department of Transportation to develop it.

According to Barloga, moving the route off of the abandoned railroad could drastically affect the grant. The Izaak Walton League of America also has been working to secure properties along the U.S. 231 route, which is known as Veterans Memorial Parkway from Hebron to U.S. 41.

But Linda Sons, who lives on Delaware Street just north of U.S. 231, told the Plan Commission the alternative is the appropriate place for the trail. Sons cited an I-65 corridor transportation plan included in the master plan that proposes expanding U.S. 231 to eight lanes at its intersection with I-65. Putting a trail near so much traffic would be "more than a safety issue," she said.

Barloga said he didn't know what was being proposed for the intersection but added that the trail would be built at least 50 feet from pavement.

"There really is no safety issue here," he said.

Despite Barloga's comments, the Plan Commission did not move to eliminate the second option. The City Council could vote on adoption of the master plan Tuesday.

According to Bob Nickovich, superintendent of Lake County's parks department, there has been angst in the past few years from some property owners and city officials about how a trail located along U.S. 231 would affect growth in the area.

Nickovich said proposals for different routes on the city's master plan don't bother him. But, he added, "There's been no encumbrance or rational that an alternative might be better."

Nickovich plans to meet with city officials in the coming months to discuss the trail corridor and identify how the county's plan melds with the city's new master plan.


nwitimes 7/3/05
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Master plan all but approved

Postby Big Dog » Wed Jul 06, 2005 11:14 pm

CROWN POINT | After more than a year of planning and months of debate, all that stands in the way of the city's approval of its new master plan is a trail.

The City Council voted to adopt the comprehensive plan Tuesday, but also amended language in the plan making it clear that it favors running a bike path along U.S. 231 using the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad line.

The decision sends the plan back to the Plan Commission, which meets Monday. If the group accepts the amendment, the plan's approval process will be finished. If the Plan Commission makes any other decision, the master plan will end up in the City Council's hands again.

Councilman Andrew Kyres, D-3rd, and member Carol Drasga, R-at large, pushed for the change, saying the second option is not viable. That option shows the trail running east along North Street, crossing Interstate 65 south of 109th Avenue and following the east side of I-65 to meet up with U.S. 231.

Plans for the trail to be built along U.S. 231 already have received grant money and would enhance that part of the city, they said.

Mitch Barloga, president of the Friends of the Veterans Memorial Parkway Inc., asked the Plan Commission to remove the second option from the master plan at a meeting last month, but the group chose not to act.

The Lake County Parks and Recreation Department secured grants for the Veterans Memorial Trail in 1999, getting $1.4 million from the Indiana Department of Transportation to develop it. Barloga said moving the route from the abandoned railroad corridor could drastically affect that money.

The Izaak Walton League of America also has been working to secure properties along the U.S. 231 route, which is known as Veterans Memorial Parkway from Hebron to U.S. 41, he said.

Julie Johnson, the city's Parks and Recreation director, said Tuesday the city is working on an intergovernmental agreement with Lake County, Schererville and Munster to build the path along U.S. 231, making it a much more desirable choice.

"Saying we're going to change it could create a big problem," she said.

But the city's economic development director, Frank Mosko, pointed out that the environmental assessment of the proposed U.S. 231 trail route hasn't been completed. A problem on the route could force the city to look for different trail possibilities. He urged the council not to delay approving the plan due to the speed of development taking place at I-65 and U.S. 231.

Planning and Building Director Curt Graves also said he didn't see the "fear factor" in keeping the option in the plan.

After entertaining the idea of deleting the alternative route from the plan, the council voted to have the plan stress that the U.S. 231 route will be used unless it faces insurmountable conditions. Steve Farley, R- 2nd, voted against adopting the plan with the amendment.

The City Council also deferred considering Prairie Material's request for the special use zoning needed to build a concrete plant at 11010 Delaware Parkway in Crown East. Joe Beckman, developer for Crown East, asked for the delay and will appear before the council in August.
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Downtown Park / Central Common

Postby 141 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:33 pm

TAK,

:idea:


You make a good point. The downtown has many features that have set the foundation, and better linking needs to be made between them - without tearing things down. Once you tear it down - it's gone. If we tear everything down, what is left to go to?

I think the entire site should be treated as a park - and we should play on the history of it. What a location for a downtown park. Imagine gardens, benches, a place for people to relax, eat their lunch, fountains or an ice rink - a real gathering place that will also alleviate the pressure put on the courthouse lawn during festivals. It's still downtown. Other communities have large central parks - why don't we? What a compliment to the downtown it could be - and it doesn't have to be a gimic or a phony Disneyland.

As far as a legacy, you are right. Why don't we focus on something spectacular for the 175th birthday in 4 years. This isn't something that has to be finished tommorrow, but can be phased along.

Do you live in Crown Point still?
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Postby -={ARCLIGHT}=- » Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:03 pm

I also wish it could be a park, but that boat sailed long ago.

The Mayor desperately wanted that land to build a massive new city government center.

The school board wanted to sell the city the land.

But the city did not want to pay the full fair asking price.

So after getting dicked around long enough, the school board said enough is enough, and decided the new middle school will go there.

So instead of a nice park we are getting a lot of young pedestrians at a bust intersection.

I'd link you to where you could read the entire saga, but the admin of this board has asked me not to link to outside sources.
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Postby -={ARCLIGHT}=- » Wed Jul 20, 2005 8:39 pm

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Postby Up All Night » Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:59 am

Side yards to get second look

CROWN POINT | The City Council chose Tuesday to keep debate alive on how residential developers should use land in the city, sending a proposal changing side yard lot requirements back to the Plan Commission for more work.

After listening to developers' arguments against changing the requirements, council member Bill Condron, R-4th, recommended the Plan Commission consider requiring side yards be certain percentages of lot sizes, rather than working with hard numbers.

"We're tired of being bombarded with R-2 and R-3 developments," Condron said, referring to zones that allow duplexes and higher-density housing. "We want more green space. I think that's what the Plan Commission had in mind, more space around the houses."

The ordinance originally supported by the Plan Commission would have amended the city's zoning code regarding side yard requirements between houses. Now, in R-1 zoning the code requires at least 10 feet on one side and 5 feet on the other. The less restrictive R-2 and R-3 zones have a minimum requirement of 5 feet on each side. The amendment would change the minimum requirements for R-1 and R-2 to 10 feet on each side, widening the distance between houses.

But developers said Tuesday that 10 feet was too much to ask for. On a 60-foot lot, 10 feet on each side of a house takes up 33 percent of the land, said Tim Henderlong. He recommended the group consider a 7-foot minimum at most, and said other towns use percentage requirements, though he only mentioned Schererville.

Doug Vandernoord said the requirement would make homes more narrow, but wouldn't affect the sizes of garages, making homes less attractive overall. It also would force developers to cut back on the sizes of back yards, where families tend to socialize, he said.

"Really side yards are somewhat meaningless," he said. "They're just there to mow."

Bob and Shirley Rees live in the Penn Oak subdivision, which has 5-feet minimum requirements on both sides of lots. The couple said they moved to the neighborhood because they didn't want to take care of a big lot, and yet they don't feel as though they're on top of their neighbors.

"It's bigger than you think," Bob Rees said of the amount of space between houses in Penn Oak.

The Plan Commission could take up its review of the requirements again at its Monday meeting.

times 9/7/05
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Postby Big Dog » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:33 am

C.P. may appeal in rezone suit

CROWN POINT | A development firm has made headway in a lawsuit against the city over the rezoning of land east of Iowa Street and south of 113th Avenue.

Judge William Davis, of Lake Superior Court in East Chicago, has granted Misty Woods Properties LLC a partial summary judgment. He said there's no disputing that the City Council failed to act on the company's rezoning petition within 90 days of the Plan Commission's recommendation.

The motion adds that the "ordinance takes effect as if it had been adopted as certified."

Michael Muenich, attorney for Misty Woods Properties, said his client "seems to be pleased."

According to the original complaint, Misty Woods is seeking judgment against the city in the amount of $2 million plus costs, attorney fees and other expenses.

City Attorney Rich Wolter said the city is waiting for Davis to clarify the judgment and then will decide whether to appeal.

Misty Woods filed suit against the city of Crown Point in December of 2004. According to court documents, in late 2003, the company submitted a petition for rezoning the property from agricultural to R-1 residential and R-2, which is less restrictive and allows attached single-family homes.

The Plan Commission recommended the City Council approve the request, but at its January 2004 meeting the council delayed action. The council then voted in February 2004 to amend the rezoning petition so that it only sought R-1 for the entire property, and in March, passed the amended ordinance.

The suit argues that, by statute, rezoning petitions not initiated by the Plan Commission must be referred to the Plan Commission before any final action is taken. As a result, the council's attempts to amend the rezoning petition were void and the council failed to act on the rezoning petition within 90 days, meaning the original rezoning petition takes effect.

The suit also states that in July 2004 the company appeared before the Board of Zoning Appeals to develop the property as R-2 rather than R-1 residential, a request the group recommended the City Council deny. But, again the City Council did not vote to deny the petition within 90 days, meaning the request is considered approved.

9/14/05 nwitimes
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It is with great interest

Postby BillWHited » Sun Oct 02, 2005 7:51 am

It is with great interest that I read about Crown Point undertaking the creation of the a new master plan. As I authored a master plan for the City of Crown Point between 1977 and 1980, I have watched the City mature and grow over the years. It has always been a wonderful community and I have fond memories of it. Although I left planning for a career in information technology, I have watched as the city has grown over the years. Now, many years later, I see it facing many of the same challenges it faced when I worked as Crown Point's first full time planner in the late seventies. I will watch the process with interest.
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