By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — Municipal growing pains were on display Monday night, Sept. 13, as a developer seeks to construct 136 homes near the city airport.
Joe Herendeen wants to construct 136 homes as part of the Greenbriar subdivision on land east of Airport Road and south of CR 350N. Instead of traditional subdivision development in an R1 zone, he’s seeking to submit it as a planned unit development, often called a PUD.
Opposition to the plan – and specifically the density of the housing – is coming from residents who live to the south in The Dells, a well-established neighborhood once featured as part of the annual Parade of Homes.
Several dozen residents from the area attended Monday’s Plan Commission meeting at Warsaw City Hall.
However, a technical error in advertising was reason enough to delay a vote by the plan commission, even though both sides still had a chance to outline in detail their positions.
Officials realized the legal notice was not specific enough in explaining the proposal.
The discrepancy was pointed out by attorney Steve Snyder, who is representing residents of the Dells. City Attorney Scott Reust recommended the ad be published again with necessary changes. The issue will likely return for the plan commission’s October meeting.
Prior to that decision, the plan commission got an overview of the issue from both sides.
The request comes from Herendeen, who is working with Oakmont Development.
The city, which is facing a severe shortage of homes, is trying to assist developers to spur more construction and has already agreed to extend sanitary sewer.
The city plan office is recommending approval of the request to change the zoning map to include a PUD as part of preliminary plat approval.
“We believe this proposal fits well within the city’s comprehensive plan,” said attorney Thomas Niezer, of Barrett McNagny, of Fort Wayne, who represents Herendeen.
The plan office received at least two dozen letters in opposition. Many worried about increased traffic, potential drainage issues and a negative impact on their property values.
Much of the concern involves the density of the housing. Greenbriar would include 136 lots on 42 acres while The Dells has 132 lots on 62 acres.
In its recommendation, the plan office said it understands the concern but implored the plan commission “to not lose sight of the overall health and needs of our community.”
The city points out that the lack of housing has been highlighted repeatedly in studies and by committees.
The city recommendation also points out that three to four more similar residential developments could soon come before the plan commission.
“We will be doing a disservice to the long-term health and stability of our community if we fail to recognize the benefit that these housing options could bring,” the recommendation read.
Opponents are asking for the plan to be resubmitted as part of an R1 development. Some who spoke said they’d like to see fewer homes and a visual buffer south of the new development.
The next plan commission meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 11.