A sizeable residential development proposed amidst growing fields and quiet rural roads in southwest Allen County is still a possibility.
The Allen County Commissioners on Friday gave themselves another 30 days to make a decision on Cedar Grove, a proposed 207-lot subdivision with ponds and cul-de-sacs at the corner of Feighner and Tom Worrel roads.
In August, Granite Ridge Builders, one of the largest homebuilders in northeast Indiana, proposed turning nearly 78 acres of farm fields into Cedar Grove, but neighbors complained the project is out of character with the area and would cause drainage and traffic problems.
In February, the Allen County Plan Commission gave the project a “Do Not Pass,” an unusual move in a recent tide of approved proposals that will add at least 2,000 new homes to the county, mainly in northwest and southwest Allen County, as the county faces a critical housing shortage.
Developers typically persuade receptive county officials with numbers. On the market right now, there are about 150 homes for sale when market demands 2,500 to 3,000.
The commissioners – Nelson Peters, president, Richard Beck and Therese Brown – have until June 8 to make a decision. But if they don’t vote aye or nay on Cedar Grove, the Do Not Pass stands and there’s no going back.
At Friday morning’s meeting, there were no representatives from Granite Ridge and no one spoke on behalf of the project.
The project’s location is east of Interstate 69 and south of Interstate 469 that goes east and west. Most of the industry in this section of the county is on the west side of I-69. The large GM plant looms over the highway, not far from the Fort Wayne International Airport. Further south is Hamilton Road.
The project Cedar Grove in red would add a 207-lot housing addition neighbors oppose.
“This is a really difficult situation,” Beck said after the meeting. “This is an area that could go industrial. It could go residential and the decision that we make will last for generations. We really have to give this a lot of thought. The challenges are between two comprehensive plans; the existing comprehensive plan and amendment and the future comprehensive plan which is due out in the next few weeks or months. And so we’re trying to balance between those two to figure out the right decision.”
Comprehensive planning guides plan commission decisions on zoning and construction.
Therese Brown said the residents didn’t want industrial development, but there’s no “comp plan” to say what development it should be. She called it a Catch 22.
The current plan discourages commercial development, so the battle between residential and industrial continues. Because of the proximity to the highway interchange, the area will lend itself to development, Michelle Wood, senior planner, said Friday. Wood said moving away from the interchange could bring “less intense” development.
At a meeting in March, Peters said it would make sense to have industrial sites on the west side of I-69 and have some residential sites on the east side.
“We don’t want to make a decision and then we find out the comprehensive plan said well, ‘you really should have done this instead of that’ and so that’s why it’s such a conundrum that we’re in here,” Beck said.