City councilman: Is Fishtrap Lake for sale to the highest bidder?

Stabosz

buy now UPDATE DEC. 28: The LaPorte City Council ultimately annexed the Fishtrap Lake property at the Dec. 27 meeting. For more information, click on this link: https://www.heraldargus.com/news/city-annexes-fishtrap-lake-property/article_08a7839a-1a97-506e-aed6-a1978b2b2f61.html   
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order now EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter of opinion was submitted by LaPorte City Councilman Timothy Stabosz.
For those of you who care about protection of our lakes, as a LaPorte City Councilman, I wanted to draw your attention to a Special City Council Meeting to be held Thursday, Dec. 27, at 4 p.m. at City Hall. At that meeting, the City Council, in what I believe to be a misguided effort to bring new upscale residential investment “at all costs,” is at risk of abandoning long established principles of Waterfront View Protection in our city, in order to provide the developer of a proposed townhouse project along Fishtrap Lake with special treatment that is unwarranted, unjustified, and will set a terrible precedent that puts all of our lakes in danger.
Specifically, the developer, Legacy Hills Development LLC, has asked the city to annex roughly 525 feet of lake frontage on Fishtrap Lake, so that it can cram as many units as possible onto the land parcel (maximizing profit), regardless of its effect on the quality of life in our community, and the public’s right to have its views of our waterfront REASONABLY protected.
What is particularly galling about this situation is that the architect for the proposed project is the same one that brought us the infamous “Outlook Cove” structure on Pine Lake Avenue, a structure that did unspeakable damage to the unique character of LaPorte by placing a cold, brutal, and over-scaled structure, with virtually no windows, facing Pine Lake Avenue, looming over the citizenry, and permanently blocking the view of Pine Lake at LaPorte’s very front door. We must not allow this to happen again.
It is ironic that the City Council, a decade or so ago, passed a law creating Waterfront View Protection for Pine, Stone, Lower, Hennessy, Clear, Crane, and Walker Lakes, directly IN RESPONSE to the destruction of LaPorte’s unique and special character that was wrought by Outlook Cove (and an adjoining development), and to prevent the public good from being sacrificed for the sake of the almighty dollar ever again. And yet, here we are, 10 years later, with the same developer, seeking to exploit a loophole in our zoning ordinance, that not only provides for no aesthetic design oversight for townhouses, but a city administration that failed to tell the developer that it insists on Fishtrap Lake having the same Waterfront View Protection that LaPorte’s 7 other major lakes have. Now it is up to the City Council to use its power to take a stand, on behalf of the people.
I want to make it clear. LaPorte desperately needs, and I fully welcome, upscale residential development, especially of a kind we don’t have. And it doesn’t have to be of a style that I personally like. But when, at the last Council meeting, the developer of the proposed project played coy, talked primarily about the “investment value” of the project, disrespected the authority of the Council, and refused to answer even general questions about the nature of the project, decorum is not maintained, and trust is shattered.
Then, when the developer WALKS OUT of the Council meeting, after the Council, in a 4-2 vote, amended the annexation ordinance to apply Waterfront Protection to the project … one has to wonder exactly what provisions of waterfront protection the developer objects to, or why they otherwise appear to be not interested in being responsible stewards over Fishtrap Lake’s shoreline. Perhaps public attendance at the Special City Council meeting will extract the sought-after information, so that certain council people can do their job in seeking to oversee and protect the public interest in good faith.
So, what is going to happen at the Special Council Meeting on Dec. 27 at 4 p.m.?  What is particularly sad about this situation is that some of my colleagues on the council are prepared to say “never mind” and reverse their vote, giving the keys to the kingdom to the developer, in order to free the developer from the requirement placed upon them that they follow Waterfront View Protection.  This, in my view, completely sacrifices the public interest, and would set a dangerous precedent that it is open season on LaPorte’s lakes.
Let me just close by asking some questions for all of us to think about, as we ponder what kind of community we want LaPorte to be. Does LaPorte want to utilize the value of its lakes and parks to attract the upscale residential investment we want, while being careful to not sacrifice the public good in doing so? Are LaPorte’s lakes up for sale to the highest bidder, to have sight-lines blocked at will, with standards of protection set aside for favored or powerful interests, or for the sake of the almighty dollar? If a structure that may be too tall, upwards of a tenth of a mile long, and too blocking of public view of the lake is put up on Fishtrap Lake, as the first multifamily development EVER on that lake, what is to stop the next developer from seeking the same “special deal” on this, or any other of our lakes? With Fishtrap Lake being idyllic, pristine, and in a natural state of beauty, might it not be in the city’s long-term interest to make sure that the scale and style of this proposed development be more in keeping with the established character of the area, and that it doesn’t seek to defy or undermine it?
I am an open-minded person and pride myself in free inquiry, reason, and careful analysis. But when a developer treats the council as something to be ignored, dismissed or demeaned, when we are the authorities to approve or deny the annexation, that raises my hackles.
My message to all lakefront developers in LaPorte is simple: Be a PART of the lake you are building on.  Integrate your development WITH the lake.  Don’t exploit the lake and have the backside of your building “thumb its nose” at the populace of LaPorte. That is wrong, and that costs us all in the long run. Work WITH us, and we will work with you. It’s called win-win.
read more Timothy Stabosz
order now LaPorte City Councilman At-Large

16 Responses to “City councilman: Is Fishtrap Lake for sale to the highest bidder?”

  1. Jeff

    Dec 26. 2018

    I grew up in La Porte and you could never see the lake where Outlook Cove sits. Pine Chevy was there and the surrounding area was overgrown. Not defending the developer at all but let’s be truthful here. You could NOT see Pine Lake from that sight prior to the condos being built.

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  2. Mary kabacinski

    Dec 26. 2018

    Thank you for standing up for this… Hope it is not a losing battle.. I agree.. Not against new projects, but we don’t have to jump on every offer like it will be the last. I live in the county but feel like we should have a voice too. We utilize laporte for everything.. I grew up on fishtrap…can’t we leave this for the fishermen? Does everything have to be developed?since they have restricted access to clear lake and as you said blocked the view of pine lake…don’t go down without a fight!!

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  3. LaPorte Home

    Dec 26. 2018

    Please ask the developer how many LaPorte county contractors he uses on his current projects and how many he plans on using with this project if approved.

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  4. Thomas Vater

    Dec 26. 2018

    Where is the meeting tomorrow? Thank you and have a good evening.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ron

    Dec 27. 2018

    I applaud your efforts to maintain a balance between economic growth and preservation of our lake and the view we desire to maintain.
    I do hope that the City Council also looks at ways of economic growth and stability of our whole community, not just the north side or the east side.
    The west side of La Porte has taken a hit in that we have lost Al’s West Grocery store AND recently K-Mart. We are very thankful for Aldi as this store has provided the grocery needs of this side of town. Heaven forbid them to leave, or it will cause economic chaos in La Porte for those in this Ward. I trust the Council representatives will work their hardest to keep and bring vitality to the West side (West Lincoln Way and Andrew Avenue area).

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  6. sharon dettmer

    Dec 27. 2018

    Thank you Councilman Stabosz for making the effort to inform the public of the plans to “sell off Fishtrap Lake” to a developer. Too often, public officials jump on such “opportunities” without delving into the pros and cons evolving around the issue. Here, we have a clear position in a well-written statement informing the public of the challenges of locating construction projects of this nature on our lakes. The same thing happened in New Buffalo. A developer came into to town and sold the public officials a bill of goods. Look at that downtown now — a block of concrete with nothing constructed on top — the developer never finished the build. So, let’s be careful before diving into the Fishtrap Lake deal.

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  7. Lynn Lisarelli

    Dec 27. 2018

    Thank you, Timothy, for enhancing our awareness about this. We do need to be protecting all our lakes from too much unwarranted development that will come back to hurt us in the end.

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  8. Bill A

    Dec 27. 2018

    Here is an idea for Tim Stabosz…. instead of road blocking business in LaPorte once again how about taking some of your millions and fixing up the homes he owns on Indiana Avenue and Monroe Street. Tim seems so worried about the view being obstructed on Fishtrap Lake, but has no issue in spoiling the view in town along 2 major thoroughfares not to mention negatively affecting property values for the neighbors. Take a look at his Indiana Avenue place with no front door and tattered house wrap on the upper porch railing. The hypocrisy is stunning from Stabosz.

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  9. Jeff

    Dec 27. 2018

    Like normal everyone wants to tell somebody else what they can do with their land. As for the city there seems to be a lot of secrets not being told to the public on a lot of issues and hidden projects.

    Reply to this comment
  10. lawman

    Dec 27. 2018

    what’s up with all the UPSCALE dwellings rumored to be happening. first I hear 200 units on a swamp by clear lake. now another one on a quaint lily pad fishing pond. where are these ”upscale” people coming from? and what is so upscale about these locations. it’s not like the Gulf of Mexico or even the shore of a big lake. some swelled heads doing the thinking here? this is not a slam on economic growth but what has come to LaPorte to support these ideas? if these upscales are from out of town I doubt they will be spending much in our town.

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  11. Laporte

    Dec 27. 2018

    After attending the meeting this evening, I am sad to say, the council had made their decisions before any of us stepped foot into the city hall building. As a Fishtrap lake property owner, I am very disappointed with the decision tonight. Eventhough my property is not the focus of their decision, I feel like some of the reasons i bought my property were stolen from me tonight. Thank you Stabosz for your strong opinions and giving us a voice.

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  12. Ben Away

    Dec 27. 2018

    Can I ask who owns this development company? Is it a local from LP?
    If I remember correctly, the person responsible for that Outlook Cove eyesore is the same person that once owned North Shore Sales Lincoln/Mercury car lot directly across the street and left a toxic mess to be cleaned up behind where the dealership once stood.
    Maybe I am wrong? I hope so, but if I’m right, I wouldn’t put much trust in this type of individual who is just in it to line his pockets, and not the welfare on LP.

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  13. Kasey Masepohl

    Dec 28. 2018

    Mr. Stabosz. I whole heartedly agree and applaud your effort. I also live in the county and agree with every statement you’ve made in the statement. Its frustrating to see that the city would allow the view of our lakes tarnished by a developer looking to profit at the expense of everyone that lives, works, and contributes to our community. I’m sounding stereotypical now but why allow FIPS and other people that only come to LaPorte on holidays, weekends etc….to affect the people of this community that live, work, and love LaPorte.
    Kudos to you,
    Kasey

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  14. alk

    Dec 28. 2018

    Thank you Tim for fighting for OUR lakes.

    I’m guessing that your co-council received a nice Christmas basket from that car dealer; or an invite for free play at that golf course to get this on a fast track.
    When is enough ?
    That property owner, I’m guessing, is just as “play my way, or I’m leaving” as that lawyer of his was at today’s meeting.
    I’m also guessing that your co-council rarely enjoys the beauty that is OUR lakes.
    Shame On Them !!

    Reply to this comment
  15. James Johnson

    Dec 30. 2018

    Tim Stabosz and his kooky scare tactic “I know better than you” self-heroism. This lake NEEDS someone to help La Porte move into the 20th century…not act like a monarch-style “I’m in charge because I say so” guy trying to assert his authority on the rest of us. Give us a break Mr. Stabosz….you weren’t born here, and you have used enough of your stupidity and quick talking bull-lony to get people to somehow believe your idiocracy….stop, sit in your seat and shut your mouth to PROGRESSION…..

    Stop trying to supplant your Chicago style (which is where they kicked you out of) crap on this good city. I for one…have never believed anything you said….except in the 2007 election when you told the citizens how “STUPID” they are for not voting for you. I will vote for bozo the clown before I vote for you again….

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