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The Journal Gazette

Friday, May 19, 2017 1:00 am

Vote means no ruling on Perry housing plan


Residents awaiting the outcome of a proposal for a housing development on Crawford Road in Perry Township will have to wait a little longer, because the Allen County Plan Commission did not muster enough votes Thursday to approve or reject the plan.

Two plan commission members – President Suzie Hoot and Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown – were absent from the afternoon business meeting. The other commission members split 4-2 in favor of approving a rezoning for the 81-lot single-family home Sage Pointe development. But five votes are required for a measure to pass or fail, the plan commission's attorney, Robert Eherenmann, told the group.

The proposal, as well as the project's primary development plan, will have to be considered again at the commission's next business meeting, June 22, he said.

Owners of the approximately 39 acres at issue said the delay will be costly to them.

The elderly couple, Manford and Nadine Snider, told The Journal Gazette they were scheduled to close on a new house Monday but now cannot because they need money from the land sale.

“We're going to lose that house,” Nadine Snider. “I'm not really looking forward to looking for another one.”

She also said the couple has been informally approached by another possible buyer for the entire parcel for a homestead. But she said they were skeptical of the stretched-out terms.

At the public hearing, the Sniders made an emotional plea for approving the plan, saying how sad they were at having to sell the family land after farming it for decades.

Plan commission members David Bailey and James Wolff voted against the rezoning, and Allen County Surveyor Jeff Sorg, Allen County Councilman Bob Armstrong, John Henry and Renee Fishering voted for it.

Before the vote, commissioners discussed concerns raised by neighbors on whether the narrow, dead-end Crawford Road could handle the increased traffic from the development and asked what the highway department's plans are for widening and improving the road.

Neighbors have contended that wet conditions along the road would make widening difficult and noted that attempts to secure right of way about eight years ago were unsuccessful. The property owners' position has not changed, neighbors said.

Brian Sechler of the Allen County Highway Department said the department would pursue widening the road but did not promise it or provide a time frame.

After the vote, neighbors said they also would tell commission members about the potential for more traffic problems if an adjoining piece of land were also to become a housing development. They said they did not raise that issue at the public hearing.

Sage Pointe is being proposed by New Venture Development Corp., Fort Wayne, represented by Ric Zehr.

Other business

Earlier, the plan commission voted 4-2 against approving a primary development plan for The Quarry housing project, at the northeast corner of Kell and West Cedar Canyons Road in Perry Township. Bailey and Wolff also voted against that approval.

At issue was whether the developer would provide a stub street for possible later connection to land to the east. The plan passed unanimously on a second vote after the developer agreed to work with the staff on finding a way around possible wetlands and a regulated drain.

The commission also unanimously approved rezoning and a primary development plan for an Antwerp Exchange Bank at Thimlar Road and Indiana 37. Also approved with the condition of buffering with a solid-board fence and tree was a primary development plan for Affordable Self-Storage LLC at Old 24 and North Webster Road in Milan Township.

The commission also voted to have Suzie Hoot take over the position of president vacated by the recent death of Ken Neumeister. She was absent Thursday because of a death in the family, staff members said.

Bailey, who chaired Thursday's meeting, was elected commission vice president. Brown did not come in to the office Thursday, but the reason for her absence could not be determined Thursday afternoon.

The commission also appointed Fishering to serve on the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals.