Gymnastics training granted needed zoning variance

2014-05-05T22:00:00Z 2014-05-05T22:32:13Z Gymnastics training granted needed zoning varianceSusan Erler, (219) 662-5336

CROWN POINT | A gymnastics and cheerleader training facility won needed zoning permission Monday to continue operating at 1204 E. Erie Court.

The Crown Point City Council overruled the Board of Zoning Appeals to grant the variance of use for Midwest Training Gymnastics and Cheer.

The zoning appeals board at its April meeting voted to recommend against granting the variance, saying the request hadn't met needed criteria.

Zoning appeals board members had concerns over operating a training facility for youngsters in an industrial area, and whether parking and road access were adequate.

Operator Eileen Butcher told the zoning appeals board in April the facility had enrollment of about 400 since opening at the 20,000-square-foot location in September.

Gymnastics, tumbling and cheerleading training classes are held in the building, Butcher said.

New information presented to the City Council on Monday by lawyers for Butcher and for owner Robert Harker indicated the location has a good traffic safety record, with only one crash in the past several years, and that the parking lot has now been striped with space for more than 50 vehicles.

Class sizes are smaller than originally indicated, attorneys Eric Neff and Adam Decker said, at about three to 10 per class, or about 18 to 20 in the building at one time, and adequate insurance coverage is in place to ensure safety.

"That dispels the notion of 50, 60, or 70" in the building at one time, Decker said.

Neff said the training facility is "less intrusive" than a roller rink, a use permitted at the location under city zoning rules.

Crown Point Chief of Staff Keith Stevens said it was discovered recently that the facility was operating without the needed variance, the property owner and facility operator have "been nothing but cooperative" in complying with the city's requests.

A sprinkler system in the building must be lowered within 60 days to meet city requirements, in accordance with conditions set on the City Council approval.

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