ST. JOHN — All five St. John councilmen have been issued subpoenas to testify in court on Wednesday regarding the rezoning of recently annexed property, court records show.
The filing comes a week after BLB St. John, LLC, filed a petition to hold the town to the settlement agreement the parties reached in June 2019.
Town Council President Gerald Swets, Vice President Paul Panczuk, Councilman Michael Schilling, Councilman Wayne Pondinas and Councilman Bryan Blazak were each sent individual summons after Lake Superior Judge Gina Jones granted a hearing on Thursday.
Wednesday's 10 a.m. hearing will address the petition BLB filed, court records show.
Attorney Donald Snemis with Ice Miller, LLP, wrote in the petition that the newly elected council held a "hasty meeting," where council members agreed to rezone recently annexed properties back to R-1. Snemis said that was "in direct violation of the settlement agreement."
The settlement agreement the town reached with BLB in June comes with two key conditions, one of which required the town to support the rezoning of 108 acres of land, also known as The Gates East subdivision, from R-1 to R-2 planned united development (PUD).
The second condition stipulates the town also will consider rezoning 14 parcels (111 acres) from R-1 to R-2 PUD. All parcels would have an average lot size of 11,200 square feet, according to the settlement.
However, during its Jan. 1 meeting, the council agreed unanimously to rezone two parcels of land in the town, including the Gates East, under Resolution 2020-01-01.
Panczuk later defended the decision, saying in Section 24-42 of St. John Town Code, all land annexed to the town will be considered R-1, unless the council agrees unanimously to rezone the parcel.
In September 2019, the outgoing council OK'd the rezoning of Gates East 3-2, with Swets and Mark Barenie voting no.
Since the council did not unanimously agree to rezone the land at the time of annexation, Panczuk said, it reverts back to the R-1 designation.
Going back to an R-1 designation would decrease the density of the development from 3.2 units per acre to 2.3 homes per acre.
"We had no unanimous vote. We feel it should be R-1," Panczuk said. "We could initiate a rezoning regardless. ... We feel that's the proper direction."
Attorney Tim Kuiper, who represents Gates East developer John Lotton, said while the town code does include that stipulation, the resolution still violates the settlement.
The matter also is expected to go before the St. John Plan Commission on Wednesday, where the commission is seeking to finalize the rezoning, according to the meeting agenda.