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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:00 am

Rezoning OK'd for evolving site

Council advances West Jefferson property

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

In a 6-3 vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council approved a rezoning request for piece of property along West Jefferson Boulevard, despite reservations that it would set a bad precedent for future projects with similar issues. 

The project, at 6626 W. Jefferson Blvd., is being developed by local restaurateur Martin Quintana.

The original proposal intended to add a 9,000-square-foot garage onto a residential building but changed into a proposed restaurant and then a shopping plaza with four units.

The alternate proposals were suggested after work was stopped because of building code violations and because the use and design of the building were questioned. 

The rezoning approved Tuesday changes the site from single family residential to limited commercial. 

Those opposed to the rezoning worried that granting the request would encourage other developers to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission, for problematic projects.

Speaking to the council, Allen County Building Commissioner John Caywood said work on Quintana's building was stopped twice. Caywood noted that during one visit, inspectors found an unlicensed person doing welding at the site. 

Councilmen Geoff Paddock, D-5th, John Crawford, R-at large, and Jason Arp, R-4th, voted against the rezoning, which includes a written commitment to limit allowable uses for the site.

It's not yet clear what will occupy that space once it is complete, but the Fort Wayne Plan Commission was told in August that two physical therapy practices and a mattress store had expressed interest.

In other business, City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that requires city departments to report to the council any new revenue received outside of the budget process. 

Under the ordinance, city departments will now have to provide the council with the source of the new revenue, the date the funds were received or will be received, where the funds will be deposited, the total amount of the revenue received or expected, any restrictions attached to the new revenue that could impact spending and the city's intended use and timetable for spending the new funds. 

City departments will not be allowed to spend any new revenue without completing the required disclosure.

The ordinance was sponsored by Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, who said the city received about $6.5 million in 2018 that had not been budgeted or seen by the council. The city administration then asked the council at the end of the year to approve spending those funds.

“This is a collaborative effort to make sure that council is involved a little bit sooner, notified of the revenue and notified a little bit sooner of intended appropriations,” Jehl said. “That way there should be more collaboration. We shouldn't find out about accrued obligations at the end of the year.”

Jehl added that the new requirements will be more in line with the traditional budget process, which will begin this month after Mayor Tom Henry announces the 2020 city budget. 

City Controller Garry Morr said he supports the ordinance but noted that City Council will see additional appropriations throughout the year, rather than waiting until December.

“That's been the standard operating procedure prior to my coming and being city controller,” he said. “In fact, we have several in the queue, so to speak, that we'll be bringing.” 

dgong@jg.net