WARSAW — The Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday night, Aug. 24, voted unanimously to approve a request that would allow a multi-family development project to move forward along Argonne Road.
Real America Development submitted the use variance request for the property at 2525 Durbin St., Warsaw. The hope is to construct multi-family housing within an I-2 Zoning District, which traditionally does not allow for residential development. The proposed project includes two three-story buildings with 60 units, along with a community building, parking and other amenities for tenants.
According to Johnny Latsko, assistant planner, the city’s comprehensive plan identifies the corridor as a target for “community vitality.”
“An Argonne Corridor Vision Plan is currently in the works by Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Warsaw and Winona Lake. The vision plan identifies (the former) Arnolt Property as a potential catalyst site for private investment in the corridor,” said Latsko. “Shifts in manufacturing, city growth and transportation trends have made the site less suitable for the heavy industry historically conducted in the area. The proximity to restaurants and a grocery store make it an ideal candidate for expansion of rental housing.”
Jeremy Skinner, director of the planning department, went into more detail about the Corridor Vision Plan.
“The city recently entered into ownership of (the property), probably about a month ago, with the intent of working with Real America to redevelop that property into a housing opportunity,” said Skinner.
Skinner did note that with the project development, the current building will be demolished.
“The building itself, to try to rehab it and reuse it would be very difficult to do,” said Skinner. “It’s a lot of square footage.
The city is currently working with Real Development to put in an application for IHCDA funding for this project. Once completed, Skinner said the development would be similar to the housing project at Little Crow Lofts.
Jeff Ryan, vice president of development for Real America Development, gave his comments to the board virtually.
He assured the board that the project would involve clean-up of any environmental concerns to ensure the property is safe for tenants. When finished, the property will include a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments along with a playground, dog park and possible sports court.
The board did receive three letters in response to the request. One of the letters opposed the request while the other two were written in support of the request.
The first letter was submitted by Jim Weaver, owner of Warsaw Engineering and Fabricating, Inc, in opposition to the request. He stated that the production done by his company involves loud noises and very heavy truckloads that pass the property in question.
“I would not like to see the 2525 E. Durbin St. address … rezoned because of these ideal conditions for our continued operation,” read the letter. “I would think there would be a more suitable location for housing.”
Weaver was also present at the meeting to express these concerns.
“I’m all for cleaning up the property, I have been for a long time. I hated to see it go to waste like it did,” said Weaver. “But I don’t want to see it at the risk of operating, or trying to operate, within a neighborhood.”
Skinner explained that with a use variance, Weaver would not lose any rights to operate his business and that his business could continue as normal.
The second letter was written by Gregory Cobb, managing member of Freedom Oil.
“We feel that the zoning to multi-residential would be a benefit to the area,” this letter stated. “This would also allow the demolition of an old and unsightly building that needs to be torn down.”
The third and final letter was submitted by George Clemens on behalf of Pelonite LLC.
“It would be a big improvement to see the eyesore formally known as the Arnolt Corp. removed, cleaned up and developed,” the letter said.
The board then closed the meeting to public comment to discuss the case amongst themselves.
The general consensus was that there were concerns regarding children being in the area, but that the development would be a good step for the city.
The board unanimously approved the request.