ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – A week after a lengthy public hearing, the Allen County Plan Commission approved rezoning requests and primary plans for several proposed housing subdivisions.
Some of the people who shared their concerns over Belmont Woods at the public hearing gathered to see the vote of approval Thursday afternoon.
The request to rezone the land from agricultural to residential passed 5-3. One person voted against the primary plan.
Presented in the public hearing by Ric Zehr, North Eastern Development Corp. requested to rezone 49 acres, southwest of the intersection of Flutter and Young Roads, from agricultural to residential. According to the primary development plan, the land would be divided into 94 single-family plots.
The biggest complaint from neighbors was about the size of the plots and how many houses would be built. They lined up at the podium last week to tell the commission that the new neighborhood would not fit into the surrounding area. Many said they were not against development, but asked the plans be amended allowing for bigger lots, and fewer homes.
Multiple neighbors also complained the plans have the new houses backed up against Flutter and Young. Zehr responded to the complaints by saying restrictions would be put on residents for what can and can not be in a back yard and what fencing could be allowed.
A discussion among the commission and staff followed the public hearing. It was clarified that as long as the developers request meets the minimum standards, the commission would approve the zoning request, passing it to the Allen County Commissioners. Zehr argued the minimum is 50 feet and 150 unites, as opposed to his suggested 65 feet and 94 units.
If allowed, construction could begin in the spring with houses starting at $250,000.
Ric Zehr presented seven different requests on behalf of North Eastern Development corp. at the plan commission hearing. The largest amount of opposition he faced, aside from Belmont Woods, was The Haven.
If rezoned, 97 acres west of Hadley Road, north of Illinois Road and south of Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, would be home to 115 single-family houses. According to Zehr’s presentation, the homes would cost between $300,000 and $850,000.
The space is heavily wooded and has wetland areas. It’s bordered to the south by other subdivisions. Neighbors expressed worry about the amount of increased traffic through those additions. A couple of those opposed mentioned cars cutting through their neighborhoods to avoid backed up traffic on Hadley Road. As WANE 15 has reported, trains often come to a stop on the nearby tracks, causing backups.
Several people also questioned where storm water will flow once the development is built. While the project is designed around wetlands, many were concerned about how much water can be held in one spot before spilling into somewhere else.
There were also comments regarding the clearing of trees and plants that served as homes to animals and as a buffer to sound from the parked trains.
Allen County Surveyor Jeff Sorg called it a “troublesome piece of land,” and offered a list of things for the developer to consider before starting work. If approved, demolition could begin in the fall.
The request to rezone and primary plan votes were successful for the developer.
One future neighborhood facing little opposition at the public hearing was proposed by Dawn Gallaway of Keller Development, Inc.
32 acres along the south side of W. Till Road between Lima and Bethel Roads would be divided between housing and industrial uses, if allowed to be rezoned from agricultural use.
Sullivan Square would hold 29 duplexes, creating 58 homes. According to the primary development plans, the space to the east would be home to the headquarters for Keller Development with parking for employees, storage buildings and a maintenance shop. The project would also include a playground a pavilions for residents.
A neighbor who lives directly across Till from the development said she supported the proposal, but told the commission that the road needs work to support the extra traffic. She also warned of dangers at the intersection with Lima Road.
The plan commission approved the requests for this project as well, with unanimous votes.
From commission to commissioners
After the approval votes were made by the Plan Commission Thursday, developers looked ahead to the next part of the approval process.
The Allen County Commissioners will then take a look at the requests to determine if rezoning will be allowed.