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BZA dismisses Big Long Lake pier petition


A petition for a variance from the LaGrange County BZA for a group pier on Big Long Lake was dismissed when one of the listed applicants spoke out against the petition at Monday’s meeting.

The petition to place a pier on an easement not contiguous to the primary lot was for Block 8 in the Long Lake Park plat. The petition listed David Jennings, Steve Ybarra, Gregory King and Alan Macklin as petitioners for the pier.

A March 5 ruling by LaGrange County Circuit Court Judge J. Scott VanDerbeck noted that piers could not be placed in Big Long Lake Park without a variance from the BZA, as they did not meet the county’s accessory use clause.

Jennings spoke to the BZA, who said the pier would be for the use of the four families, which were also listed on a DNR permit. “Without the variance, we won’t have access to the lake. We would be deprived of the rights we purchased,” Jennings told the BZA.

Others from the area, including Jeff and Sally Spaw, Dan Meeks, Jordan Spaw and Gary Ward, all spoke in favor of the petition.

Following a remonstrance presented by attorney Thomas Niezer who represented a list of other residents, the next remonstrator was Alan Macklin, who had been listed as a petitioner.

Macklin told the BZA that he did not sign up for the variance and that he felt bunching up the piers would be unsafe. Macklin added that he felt it was also unsafe for the piers to be out of sight of the properties that the piers belonged to.

Niezer had noted in his comments that the application had not been signed by all four property owners, only Jennings.

BZA attorney Lisa Bowen-Slaven told the board that she didn’t know if the permit could proceed based on the fact that Macklin opposed using his allotted section in the application. “You don’t have a valid application,” she noted.

The permit was dismissed by the BZA for lack of proper documentation.

CountyPlanningAdministrator Bob Shanahan added later that beginning immediately, the department would not take pier permits without everyone who is part of the application there to apply in person. “There will be no agents petitioning on others’ behalf,” Shanahan said.

He told the BZA he knew of two other applications for variance for piers that were planning to be filed, and he would contact the applicants to let them know that all petitioners would have to appear in person to file.

In other business:

The BZA was told that beginning in August, the BZA and plan commission meetings will be swapped, so that the BZA will meet on the 3rd Tuesday and the plan commission on the 4th Monday. The switch is expected to help streamline the approval process for projects that require both a variance from the BZA and site plan approval from the plan commission. When required, a project will need a variance prior to site plan approval. Currently, site plans are heard prior to BZA meetings and, if passed, may include provisions for pending variance approval.

The BZA approved a variance for KM Finishing at 2490S 1100W, to exceed the maximum 12,000 sq. ft. and allow more than four employees. The original conditions were made in a 2003 variance approval.

Glen Bontrager had a variance for setbacks for an AFO approved for his location at 1225N 625W.

Marsha Mudrack was granted a variance for her residence at 4870W US 20, to allow a hair salon with a sign.