Culver Redevelopment Commission & The Dunes

CRC meeting October 16, 2023

The October 16th meeting of the Culver Redevelopment Commission had a pretty full house and the majority of the meeting was taken up with a Public Meeting (not Public Hearing) on The Dunes. I was pretty proud of Culver as the majority of the questions were well thought out and asked respectfully. There were only a few questions I thought were irrational and even those were asked succinctly and calmly. I was also pleased to see that all of the Town Council members and a few of the candidates for Town Council were in attendance to listen.

Burke Richeson spoke for the Developer and did a nice job. Only getting a little vex’d when another attorney representing opposition spoke. Kevin Danti, Culver Town Manager, did a good job of keeping things moving and controlling the conversation. (I was going to link to Kevin’s page on the town’s website, but it hasn’t been updated.)


There were questions about environmental concerns, but these seemed to center on the effect on Lake Maxinkuckee. It was stated by Karen Shuman, who is on the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council (LMEC), that LMEC had determined that the property is not within the Lake Maxinkuckee Watershed. I’m not sure that’s 100% correct, but it is at least mostly correct. Lake Maxinkuckee’s watershed is not large, but since the lake is mostly sustained by springs, the quality and quantity of ground water is important. That said, besides the lake, there are other environmental concerns, one the bigger ones being the surface runoff flow to the wetlands at the north side of the property and the town well fields just north of the property. Protection of those are critical.

Nearly Full House at the October Redevelopment Commission Meeting

Most of the conversation was well presented and questions were mostly answered with the exception of questions regarding the bond structure. Those got rather deep and ended with an offer from the town to provide a visual chart and breakdown to make the flow of funds more understandable. At this time, an agreement between the Town and Developer has not been reached, so the final numbers remain in flux. Progress is being documented on the Town’s Website in a link to Dunes. They stated a plan to document the questions heard at this meeting as well as others under a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.

Aside from the bonding, which was confusing to all involved, I was a little confused about the Tax Incremental Financing District (TIF) discussion. This was presented by Marty Oosterbaan, Commission Chairman, and I think most people in attendance didn’t know the right questions to ask. A couple of the things that left me puzzled were: 1) was the new land area for The Dunes being taken into the existing downtown TIF as discussed or would it stand alone; 2) was there one new TIF area or two? There was discussion of a 20yr TIF (residential) and a 25yr TIF (commercial) to cover the areas with rental apartments. How do these fit? There was also a discussion about how this would affect local residents and again, the discussion of taxes were muddy. It was stated that there would be no effect for the life of the TIF, but I don’t believe that to be correct, since there will be a reassessment and taxes levied on the new development which could affect neighboring property.

Another positive I heard last night was the future involvement of Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG). Culver is already working with them on the new Comprehensive Plan and have engaged them for help on The Dunes as well. They will be conducting traffic studies, apparently including boat traffic studies. Hopefully they will also step in to fill the Urban Planner role I suggested here before. It would be interesting to see if they address the issue of suburban sprawl and disconnection of subdivisions in Culver I discussed in this post. Would this development be more acceptable if it followed the streets and alleys development grid found on the east side of South Main Street rather than as a controlled access, separate neighborhood? An interesting question…

Though there weren’t pitchforks and torches at this meeting, the tenor of the conversation made it clear that the community is not embracing this project yet. There were comments about screening it so it’s not seen and changing the entrance to face S.R. 17 in lieu of South Main Street, as discussed here before. These ideas treat it as if they expect an eyesore or having nothing to contribute to Culver. While there may be reasonable concerns, the Town government seems to be on a path to address them the best they can. There is good reason to be cautious, but there should also be efforts to take advantage of the positives that could come from this.

3 Responses to Culver Redevelopment Commission & The Dunes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright 2011 - Easterday Construction Company, Inc. - All rights reserved.