By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — The Warsaw Plan Commission has given its blessings to a scaled-back residential development north of The Dells near the municipal airport.
The developer, Oakmont Development, originally sought to develop land south of CR 350N that would include 136 homes that would contain some villas and be treated as a “planned unit development,” often referred to as PUD.
PUDs, when approved, allow developers to not adhere to traditional setback standards, meaning the lots can often be smaller.
The new PUD plan includes 42 villas on a nine-acre tract. The rest will be standard single-family homes.
But opposition to the Greenbriar development from many residents of The Dells last month led to major changes in the proposal that was reviewed and unanimously approved Monday night, Oct. 11.
The developer reduced the scope of villas to a small collection in the northeast corner of the development. An access road leading to Airport Road to the west was added and more greenspace was included in the overall plan. Kosciusko County Highway is also apparently ready to maintain Knollwood Drive, which the developers are seeking to connect to the new neighborhood.
Last month, the commission heard arguments against the plan by several residents who stood with dozens of others in opposition.
A smaller crowd showed up Monday, and their attorney, Steven Snyder, confided that the new plan included “significant improvements.”
Snyder continued to argue that Knollwood Drive should not be connected to the development, contending it would “dump” traffic into The Dells.
But others, including Plan Commission member Jeff Grose, think the opposite would happen with Dells residents using the connection to leave through a new access road to Airport Road.
Plan Commission member James Eman said connecting Knollwood would improve access for emergency vehicles. He called the changes a “huge improvement.”
Residents of The Dells had expressed concern with the density of housing in the proposal. The Dells was developed under country zoning standards and have much larger lot sizes compared to what is being proposed.
Attorney Thomas Niezer, of Barrett McNagny, of Fort Wayne, representing the developer, said the plan for more residential in the area represents the highest and best use when compared to commercial or industrial.
Mayor Joe Thallemer’s administration has made it a priority to address the housing shortage and is seeing more residential developments coming together in the past year or so.
City Planner Justin Taylor urged the commission to consider the overall health of the community and the need for more housing.
“We would be doing a disservice to the long-term health and stability of our community if we fail to recognize the benefits of diverse housing,” Taylor said.
The traditional residential portion involves 33 acres and 86 lots.
Approval by the commission involved two votes, one for the residential development and another for the PUD, which is technically a rezoning.
The developers will still have to gain approval for the PUD as plans are firmed up.