6100 Southport Road

Portage, Indiana 46368

(219) 763-6060

Land Use Committee

Thursday, August 5, 2021, at 1:00 pm

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 823 2264 7817

Passcode: 117747

+1 312 626 6799


1.0 Call to Order by Chairman George Topoll

2.0 Minutes of May 6, 2021 (pp. 1 – 2)


3.0 Sensible Tools Handbook Final Draft Report Eman Ibrahim

4.0 TOD Funding Program Project Update Eman Ibrahim

5.0 Communities Update Everyone

6.0 The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, 2021, at 10:00 am

7.0 Adjournment

Requests for alternate formats please contact NIRPC at (219) 763-6060 or Individuals with hearing impairments may contact us through the Indiana Relay 711 service.

For Interpreter Services please contact NIRPC at (219) 763-6060 or 72 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, familial status, parental status, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program.


NIRPC Virtual Meeting May 6, 2021


This meeting was convened as an electronic meeting, pursuant to Governor Holcomb’s extended Executive Order 21-03. All persons were meeting remotely on a Zoom platform that allowed for real time interaction and supported the public’s ability to observe and record the proceedings. When the agenda item was provided for public comment, this was supported as well. A roll call was taken to motion and approve the agenda items.

George Topoll called the meeting to order at 10:02 a.m. with a roll call. In attendance were George Topoll (Union Township), Ashley Sharkey, David Wright (GPTC), Katie Vallis (IDNR), Bryan Blazak (St. John).

NIRPC staff present were Eman Ibrahim, Meredith Stilwell, Scott Weber, Candice Eklund, Kevin Polette, Joe Exl, Kathy Luther, Mitch Barloga, Lucas Ecklund-Baker, and Flor Baum.

On motion by David Wright and second by George Topoll, the LUC approved the minutes of the January 6, 2021, meeting.

Eman introduced the 2021 Sensible Tools Handbook update. The handbook includes five main themes: Resilient, Healthy, Sustainable, Equitable, and Smart.

Joe Exl presented on the Resilient section which discusses hazard mitigation, coastal hazard, and green infrastructure (stormwater). The multi-hazard mitigation plan identifies great risks for disasters and creating strategies to mitigate risks. Green Infrastructure focuses on natural ways of treating stormwater runoff. Design and modeling tools were provided through resource manuals that would best benefit the Midwest and its climate.

Joe Exl, Kathy Luther, Eman Ibrahim, and Mitch Barloga presented on the Healthy section which discussed the following:

Joe and Eman presented on the Sustainable section of the Sensible Tools Handbook. He discussed urban forestry and Tree City USA. Wetland protection benefits was also discussed. Wetland regulations adopted by communities include special wetland protection ordinances, zoning regulations, and sanitary codes. community gardens, affordable housing, energy, and brownfields. Indiana farmland is at high risk because its conversion threat is higher than its policy response, relative to other states. Policy tools and recommendations to protect farmland and support agricultural viability were outlined. Farm Link programs connect land seekers with landowners who want their land to stay in agriculture. Tools to promote and support Urban Agriculture include updated zoning codes reducing agricultural restrictions. Recommended tools for affordable housing was discussed. Sustainable energy tools include tax incentives, public education, zoning & permit process updates, wind, and solar energy development processes. Brownfield redevelopment is another aspect in the Sustainable section. Eligible Indiana communities can apply for a Phase I environmental site assessment to be done on properties that may be brownfields. A brownfield determination may also be eligible for a tax waiver.

Mitch and Eman spoke on the Equitable section of the Sensible Tools Handbook. This section discusses Environmental Justice (EJ), Universal Design, Transportation Projects, and Park & Recreation. Seven universal principles of a Universal Design were presented and are as follows: Equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach of use. INDOT has recognized the need to integrate equitable transportation measures for transportation projects. Vision Zero is a goal to integrate preventive traffic deaths approach.

Scott Weber and Eman presented on the Smart section of the Sensible Tools Handbook discusses Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Mobility, Connected & Automated Vehicles, Micro Mobility, and Cell Towers. There is momentum in Indiana for Smart Mobility. The four elements include: commercial integration of autonomous and connected vehicle technology, ITS architecture and real-time data integration, user portal/mobile application, and live modeling traffic modeling and dynamic trip pricing.

For more questions and/or more information on the Sensible Tools Handbook update, contact Eman Ibrahim at

Legislative Updates were announced. A copy was emailed to the LUC. Click here to view.

The next meeting of the Land Use Committee will be on August 5, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. at the NIRPC offices. Hearing no other business, the meeting adjourned at 11:33 a.m.