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The Gates of St. John

Rob Earnshaw, The Times

ST. JOHN — The Town Council's vote on a controversial subdivision rezoning has been deferred again one month.

The rezoning concerns a section in the Gates of St. John subdivision and a proposal to swap 77 potential condominium units from one section in the subdivision and create 77 duplexes on land between Park Place and Cline Avenue just north of 109th Avenue.

The condo units were planned for a lot at Park Place and West 107th Avenue as part of the developer's annexation agreement.

The council was scheduled to vote on the matter at its August meeting but after some public comment and discussion, the zone-change vote was deferred to its September meeting, which was Thursday, so the board could check legal matters needing clarification.

In early August, the Plan Commission passed along a "no recommendation" to the council on the rezone after its vote ended in a tie.

At that meeting, the board's attorney recused himself on the rezoning. Previous discussions had questioned whether the rezoning could legally occur.

Building and Planning Director Rick Eberly said at that meeting the option for the duplexes would call for every property owner in the Gates subdivision to agree to the rezoning, according to the agreement. He said the town's attorneys have not submitted a written opinion on the matter yet, but "they have told us that to rezone this property is nearly impossible."

During Thursday's meeting, the council said because the town attorney has a conflict related to the rezone request, an outside law firm, Barnes & Thornburg, of Indianapolis, is looking into the issue.

Town Manager Steve Kil said an attorney from that firm will provide a legal opinion as to the various zoning and land use items that have recently arisen in the Gates subdivision. The council is expected to receive that opinion in time for its Oct. 26 meeting. 

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Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.