PORTAGE | The Portage Board of Zoning Appeals gave unanimous approval Monday night for a variance for the proposed Family Express gas station and convenience store on U.S. 6.

The variance will allow the development to encroach on the front setback for a drive around the store, said Todd Etzler, attorney for Family Express.

Etzler said the store is proposed on the south side of U.S. 6 just west of the former Portage 9 theater. The company is purchasing the approximate 3 acres from the city's Redevelopment Commission. The commission is also proposing to construct a new street, Theater Drive, which will run on the west side of the proposed Family Express.

Etzler said construction is planned for next year. The developer must also gain site plan approval from the Plan Commission. The request could be on the commission's Oct. 1 agenda.

Etzler said the proposed building will be a brick colonial-style structure similar to facilities at Aberdeen in Valparaiso or Sand Creek in Chesterton.

The BZA also approved a variance for Texas Roadhouse, which is under construction at 6130 U.S. 6. The variance will allow the restaurant to have a facade sign larger than the city's code allows.

Joyce has been a staff writer for The Times for more than 20 years. She covers the city and school district in Portage and surrounding areas.