U.S. 6 retail plan gets green light.
Publication date: 08/13/1997 – Source: www.TheTimesOnline.com
Article Title: U.S. 6 plan gets green light
By:  Staff

Portage - The Plan Commission gave its nod to a conceptual plan for U.S. 6 Tuesday night.
But, only an agenda item later a proposed development along U.S. 6 came at odds with the planners' wishes.
The "Highway 6 Sub Area Plan" specifically lays out the wishes of city officials on how U.S. 6, between Airport Road and Willow Creek, should be developed. It specifies road cuts, traffic signals, green space and frontage roads among other development plans.
Despite concerns from some commission members, the plan was forwarded to the City Council for its approval, where it may be adopted after public input.
Commission members Andre Joseph and David Highlands said they felt the plan lacked specifics and would be difficult to enforce.
Ordinances to back up the plan, they said, are not yet in effect.
Others felt it was better than nothing and that it should be expanded to cover the entire length of U.S. 6 through the city.
"We've done nothing on U.S. 6 for the seven years I've been sitting here but complain," said member Tim Hill, saying the plan needed to move along without further study.
Member and City Engineer John Hannon agreed.
"As long as we study this and don't adopt it (City Planner) Janet (Barkowski) and I will have problems enforcing it," Hannon said.
The first test of whether development will fit the new plan came with the platting of the new three-lot commercial Zurich Subdivision and a new Aldi's grocery store.
The subdivision, which received preliminary plat approval, will be located on U.S. 6, just west of Ash Street. Aldi's, which narrowly received site plan approval on a 5-4 vote, will be constructed in the northwest corner of the 20-acre subdivision.
The U.S. 6 plan and subdivision came at odds when members began discussing the private driveway entrance to Aldi's off of U.S. 6.
Hill said he felt a part of the conceptual plan was to limit private drives from U.S. 6 and suggested an entrance off Ash Street and through a proposed service road be used.
"We just adopted a comprehensive plan that everybody wants until it doesn't meet with someone's development, then we skew it," Highlands said.
Commission attorney Ken Elwood reminded members that the plan had not yet been adopted and any decisions made must follow present ordinances.
Hannon said the U.S. 6 conceptual plan allows for one main access between Willow Creek and Ash Street. The entrance to Aldi's falls within that plan. He added the development does meet other requirements such as the frontage road.
However, Hill also took exception to a planned pylon sign. Instead he wanted a lower to the ground monument sign. The city's sign ordinance is also undergoing revisions and hasn't been adopted.
"We are seeking acceptance of what the public rules have been. We have complied with everything requested of us. Imposing a new standard is not fair," said George Hanus, president of Zurich Development.
David Lasser, president of Commercial In-Sites, a Merrillville real estate group, representing the assemblage land sale, said there is interest from retail and restaurant ventures for the other two lots in the Zurich Subdivision.

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