By Maggie Kenworthy
WARSAW — The board declined a variance request for a proposed apartment complex during the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals meeting held Tuesday night, May 26.
Board members were encouraged to attend the meeting virtually with City Planner Jeremy Skinner, Senior City Planner Justin Taylor, Administrative Assistant Kim Arnold and Board Member Dan Smith attending the meeting in person. The meeting was live-streamed on the city’s website and any members of the public who wished to comment on any matters were invited to call a telephone number to participate.
The board heard a variance of use request made by Real America Development for a lot on the south side of CR 200N. The use variance would permit the construction of multi-family housing within an I-2 district. The developer hoped to construct two phases of development with the first phase being affordable apartments and the second phase market-rate apartments. Once completed, the apartment complexes would consist of around 120 units.
“It is the recommendation of the planning department that the board deny this request based on the fact that the airport industrial park was annexed in with the intention of providing space for light industrial and medical device manufacturing,” said Taylor. “Although there is a high demand for housing in the city, the planning department believes that the northern or southern residential TIF districts are a much more conducive environment for residential development. The planning department can work with the developer to find a more appropriate location that does not conflict with the comprehensive plan.”
Jeff Ryan, vice president of development for Real America, called into the meeting to give comments.
“We understand, very much, the housing need in Warsaw … For the past year and a half, our Heron Reserve Apartments have averaged above 98% occupancy so we’ve seen first-hand how much need there is for both affordable and market-rate housing in the area,” said Ryan.
Ryan went on to speak about the convenience of the chosen location, as it is close to the YMCA, hospitals and shopping centers. He also mentioned that the company has had trouble finding a site that meets their criteria, especially when it comes to requirements from the state in regards to affordable housing financing.
“We very much want to expand,” said Ryan. “We think that we have been good members to the Warsaw community and we would like to be so in the future with a new development in this location.”
It was noted that Robinson Construction, a direct neighbor of the property, submitted an email against the request.
After reviewing the criteria to grant a variance, the board concluded that the request did not line up with the comprehensive plan, which is one of the five requirements for approval. The board then voted to unanimously to decline the request.
“I hope that you can find another spot by the way because it certainly sounds like you’re going to build a good property,” commented Board President Tom Allen.
The next Warsaw BZA meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 22.
In other news, the board:
- Approved a continued variance request made by George and Mary Clemens, 1118 Country Club Lane. The request was to permit a 22′ front setback instead of the required 25′ setback for the addition of an attached garage.
- Approved two requests made by Superior Developing, US 30, regarding a proposed outdoor/indoor storage facility for a currently vacant lot. The first request was a special exception to allow outdoor storage located within an I-2 zoning district. The second request was a variance from development standards to use gravel as the parking and outdoor warehousing surface instead of the required finished, hard surface.
- Approved a variance from development standards for the City of Warsaw at 123 E. Fort Wayne Street. The Parks Department requested 0′ front- and side-yard setbacks instead of the permitted 20′ setbacks to contract a new maintenance garage.