WINONA LAKE — The Winona Lake Plan Commission discussed a pair of projects at its monthly meeting Thursday, May 23. One project is a proposed housing addition designed for residents who like a tight neighborhood and don’t require a lot of space. The second order of business was the commission’s continued fine-tuning of the town’s ordinance governing rental properties.
Jay and Lori Widman presented plans to the commission of a housing addition named Treasure Hills Estates. According to plans, the addition contains 26 living units, but also a communal swimming pool and other amenities like basketball courts.
The Widmans described the type of housing development as a pocket home, or pocket community.
“The homes will be individually owned,” said Jay Widman. “There will be an association and the association will guide what (is done). They are space-saving homes, community oriented with a pool and basketball court, things that foster community.”
According to the Widmans, the houses will be individual dwellings, two stories with approximately 1,500 to 1,600 square feet of living area.
Member of the commission acknowledged that the homes and lot sizes could fly in the face of current regulations in the town. They also worry that if not properly regulated, such a development could lead to a blighted area.
“There are a lot of questions, in my mind, that need to be answered,” said Town Coordinator and Commission Member Craig Allebach. “What I’m worried about is I don’t want this to be basically small houses, and be like some of these trailer courts and start to depreciate some of the values around there. I think its kind of an exciting project, but it’s kind of an unknown. We’re kind of trying to raise the bar here.”
Commission President Dave Turner said such a project would likely require approval from the board of zoning appeals.
“About 10 years ago I saw this (pocket community) in a magazine and it’s been a dream of mine ever since,” said Lori Widman. “It’s not going to be a trailer park feel.”
The commission told the Widmans that planning can continue and that the Widmans can work with city boards and engineers to create a project that the plan commission and BZA can sign off on.
The commission discussed the latest revisions to Ordinance 2019-1-1 an ordinance establishing a rental registration and inspection program.
The commission discussed the correction of typographical errors in early drafts and discussed parameters for establishing both inspection and registration fees.
Town Attorney Adam Turner told the commission the panel needs to more clearly define the meaning of rental unit.