After a debate that lasted over an hour, Kosciusko County Commissioners finally approved a petition for a roadway vacation at Lake Wawasee at Tuesday’s meeting.
The petitioner, North East Wawasee LLC, requested that a roadway be vacated and a public way be relocated. The road is located in Waveland Beach subdivision on East Wawasee Drive in the Enchanted Hills area in a subdivision plat that dates to 1914.
The Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission approved the request at its April 4 meeting, voting 6-0-1.
The portion of the roadway in question has a very sharp S-curve that has several residents concerned. The petitioner wants to improve the road and re-establish it without the curve by straightening it.
Several of those residents voiced their concerns at Tuesday’s meeting. Ron Sims, a board member of the Enchanted Hills Property Owner Association, said he is in favor of fixing the road and improving it, but is concerned about access to the lake.
Most of the other residents who spoke also expressed concern over lake access and the safety of the road. Paul Stoelting, an attorney representing the property owners association, said, “It’s the last access to the lake. By vacating, they lose that access. The public’s rights are important.”
Attorney Steve Snyder, who represents the petitioner, said there are pros to approving his client’s request.
If the road is re-routed, the petitioner will pay to straighten the road, work with the highway department to meet county standards, and take care of any drainage issues. Snyder said they would get “more frontage” of beach if the 40-foot right-of-way was vacated. It would also not interfere with a tunnel under the road that leads to the pool and the beach.
Snyder said he met with Enchanted Hills’ board of directors in order to reach a compromise.
“You can vacate half of what Enchanted Hills owns or vacate all of it,” Snyder told commissioners.
Stoelting added, “if you vacate part of it, that’s fine but leave the other 20 feet alone.” He said his clients want access to the tunnel and to the lake.
Steve Dixon, president of the Enchanted Hills association, said, “We want our half to be ours, but not the public’s.”
Eventually, after deliberating, commissioners decided to vacate half of the right-of-way and leave the lake access open. Also, the board decided to let Enchanted Hills residents continue having access to a tunnel under the road. The issue of the safety of the road will be determined by the engineer and drainage issues be addressed. The speed limit will be posted for safety reasons.
“No one loses, and the county gains,” said commissioner Ron Truex. “It’s a win-win.”