The Allen County Plan Commission on Thursday gave the go-ahead to a four-story, 264-unit apartment complex on Diebold Road in Perry Township across from Parkview Regional Medical Center.
Proposed by Saxon Partners of Hingham, Massachusetts, the project was unanimously approved, including the developer's request for the buildings to be taller than the zoning ordinance allows.
The plan commission also unanimously approved an unusual application for three contiguous residential minor plats called Applegate Hollow after hearing opposition from neighbors.
The plats, proposed by Quality Crafted Homes, Fort Wayne, are on 23.3 acres on the south side of the 9800 block of Notestine Road in St. Joseph Township.
Gary Warfel, representing Saxon, told the plan commission the apartment complex was part of a larger strategy for Saxon, which has a portfolio of 19 niche projects in several states in the works.
“The portfolio is built around hospitals to deliver an affordable housing opportunity geared to young professionals,” he said. The company is working with Parkview on the housing proposals and at least one other.
A proposal for a 344-apartment complex for the east side of Diebold Road near Parkview will have a public hearing in December. That site lies to the south of Norarrow Drive and the west side of Cherrywood Drive.
Warfel previously told The Journal Gazette the apartments approved Thursday would be mostly studios and one-bedrooms between 512 and 725 square feet.
Michael Girardot, who lives on New Vision Drive, opposed the complex, saying it would tower over his home. He said he and his parents had lived in the immediate area for decades.
While he does not oppose the professional offices and personal services zoning of the area or the largely one-story development it has generated, Girardot said this complex was too big and too close.
“I've been very supportive over the years, and I ask for your support now,” he said.
It was not forthcoming.
After the meeting, Girardot said he did not know what he would do about his home, which he shares with his parents.
The complex needed a waiver because, under the property's zoning, residential projects are limited to 30 feet and commercial ones to 40 feet. The apartment complex will rise to 35 feet.
Aspects of the Applegate developments were questioned not only by neighbors but also by Frank Jackson, director of transportation for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Jackson pointed out three cul-de-sacs were not designed big enough to allow school buses to turn around. Buses also cannot back up, he said.
And, he said, there are no sidewalks proposed for the interior roads, including along a narrow access road to Notestine Road. If buses can't enter the development, bus-riders would likely have to be picked up there, he said.
Neighbors said they were worried about drainage plans and existing wetlands, which were not delineated on filed site plans.
Neighbors also asked about how their properties would be buffered after trees on the wooded property were taken down.
Todd Bauer of ForeSight Consulting, who represented the developer, said there were no plans to expand the culs-de-sac or put in sidewalks. However, he suggested after the meeting that a bus hut at the entrance on Notestine might be a compromise.
He also indicated the developer intended to comply with all recommendations from the surveyor's office.
Allen County Surveyor Jeff Sorg, who serves on the plan commission by virtue of that office, asked why the development was submitted as three minor plats instead of a single subdivision.
Bauer said it was because no public water is available, although public sewer is. It was believed both were needed for approval of a subdivision, he said.
He added the homes are expected to be “estate-style” and “north of $500,000” in price.
According to the planning department's prehearing report, sidewalks and interconnections to vacant properties are not required for minor plats, and multiple plats may be contiguous if served by a public street.
In a departure from usual practice, the plan commission voted on the projects Thursday at a business meeting immediately after the public hearing instead of during the following week.