Subdivision, Apartments, Bank receive development approvals

A housing development that could put up to 174 houses south of Wells County Road 200N and east of Ind. 1/Main Street received development plan approval Thursday night by the Wells County Area Plan Commission.

It was a busy night for the members of the APC. Not only did they consider the plans for the subdivision that will be known as Parlor City Estates, they also approved a complex of duplexes and triplexes that will put 16 buildings and 39 housing units off of Lamar and Main streets and approved the development plan for a new office for the ProFed Credit Union on North Main north of Wells County Road 150N. They also decided to send an ongoing violation to the APC’s attorney for legal action.

Even though six — more than half — of the APC members were present virtually, the multi-purpose room in the basement of the Wells Carnegie Government Annex was a pretty crowded place for Thursday night’s meeting. Most of the people were there to comment or ask questions about the largest subdivision, which will also abut two existing developments — Bell Brook Estates on the south and Willowbrook on the east.

Brett Miller of MLS Engineering presented the scope of the project. As designed, it will have 130 single family lots and 22 duplex lots. Miller said plans call for the lot sizes to be 68 by 140 feet.

The number of parcels in the development could change if the lot sizes are increased and the number of structures is reduced.

The houses will typically sell for $200,000, Miller said.

Bluffton is attempting to encourage developers to include fewer cul-de-sacs, and Miller said five were in the original plans. The plans as presented Thursday night showed four cul-de-sacs, and Miller said it might be possible to eliminate another one — even though, he said, the developer‚ J&D Real Estate Ventures, based in Decatur — preferred to keep the current plan intact.

There will be sidewalks on both sides of the streets in the proposed subdivision.

There were several comments made about the development. Some expressed concern bordering on opposition because of the traffic impact on Bell Brook and Willowbrook. Others were in support of the plan.

Bluffton Mayor John Whicker said the city and all of Wells County need housing, and he was fully in support of the plans.

I feel our community is on the brink of addressing our housing shortage,” he said. “There are going to be differences of opinion, but at the end, it’s about our future.”

He said the city would work with developers “to get this housing shortage fixed over the next several years.”

“Housing is desperately needed in this town,” real estate agent Jody Holloway said. “If Bluffton is going to grow, housing lots are going to have to be available.”

Sheila Kleinknight, a resident of 115 Ridgeview Place in Willowbrook, expressed concerns about water mains breaking and wondered if the new development would cause more problems with that. Doug Sundling, the city’s consultant for planning and infrastructure, said the water main problems were a result of higher water pressure in the area.

Kleinknight was also concerned about the traffic that will now come into Willowbrook because of the neighboring development. “I worry about the safety of our families and our children,” she said. 

Pam and Dan Shafer, who live at 1565 Wexford Court in Bell Brook, lamented the loss of what Pam Shafer called their “quiet, peaceful, calm neighborhood.” 

“It is a disappointment in Bell Brook that this is going to go away,” she said.

Another nearby resident, Shawn Nicholson, objected to the number of houses and the fact that they were going to be all built at once.

“This is massive,” Nicholson said. “It’s going to change that part of town forever.”

Sundling indicated that was going to be the case all over town. “The flood is coming,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

The development plan for Parlor City Estates, as presented Thursday night, received the unanimous approval of the 11-member APC — Becky Stone-Smith, Tim Rohr, Josh Hunt, Harry Baumgartner Jr., and Jerome Markley, who were physically present at the meeting, and Cory Elzey, John Schuhmacher, Bill Horan, Jarrod Hahn, Tyson Brooks, and Melissa Woodworth, who attended online.

Mike Lautzenheiser, executive director of the APC, cited several concerns that needed to be addressed as the development process moves forward. Among those were lighting, a permit for the marketing sign, connectivity, further addressing of cul-de-sacs, and stormwater concerns. The motion was amended to be sure that construction traffic came into the development off of 200N.

The APC’s Plat Committee will consider secondary plat approval as the project goes forward.

By comparison, the second housing development was approved rather quickly.

Miller also addressed the APC on behalf of the multi-family building complex being developed by Lift Off LLC. Blake Gerber, representing Lift Off, also spoke to the commission.

Two plans were originally submitted, but the larger one — 19 buildings and 46 units — was withdrawn in favor of the 16 buildings and 39 units. They will be market rate apartments.

The only comment from the public came from Patrick Galea, 16 Lamar St. who asked about drainage. There being no other public comment, nor questions from the board, the development plan was approved on an 11-0 vote.

ProFed’s new building on North Main Street, between Madison and Monroe streets, also was approved 11-0. Fort Wayne attorney Mike Hoffman and Mark Reinhard of Engineering Resources presented the plans to the APC.

ProFed has been in Bluffton since 1980 and is now at 1331 Baker Place off of Main Street. The new $2.4 million building will occupy 3.75 acres of a 25.5-acre tract.

Story by Dave Shultz, Courtesy of the News-Banner


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