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Opponents sue to block subdivision near Grabill

When Allen County Commissioner Linda Bloom voted in favor of an opposed subdivision in the Grabill area, she suggested that those who want the land left as it is should have bought it.

But the group opposing the proposed Saddle Creek subdivision had one more way of fighting its development, and that was a lawsuit, which was filed late last week in Allen County Circuit Court.

Filed by five nearby residents in the heavily Amish-populated area, the lawsuit names Allen County Commissioners Bloom, Therese Brown and Nelson Peters, as well as the development itself.

In July, the Allen County Plan Commission rejected the proposed zoning change for a 37.72-acre piece of property on the north side of Witmer Road.

The change would have zoned the property as planned single-family residential, a switch from agricultural.

After hearing from staffers and a handful of remonstrators, as well as receiving a petition signed by 81 neighbors expressing opposition to the proposal, the plan commission voted 6-2 to send the project to the commissioners with a “Do Not Pass” recommendation.

But in August, the commissioners voted to “not concur” and passed an ordinance authorizing the development.

In their lawsuit, the nearby residents ask Allen Circuit Court Judge Tom Felts to find the commissioners’ decision “unsound, arbitrary and capricious … unreasonable” and therefore unenforceable and void, according to court documents.

They argued that the decision goes against the county’s comprehensive plan, specifically constituting an example spot zoning, which is against the principles of the plan.

In 2003, county and city officials spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a blueprint for development designed by a planning company. The joint comprehensive plan governs zoning decisions, such as the location of new housing additions.

The residents also argue that the proposed development would harm the Amish way of life by significantly increasing the amount of traffic in the area, posing a danger to the buggies and bicycles used by Amish families for transportation, according to court documents.

The property surrounding the proposed subdivision remains zoned agricultural, according to court documents.

rgreen@jg.net

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