AP NEWS

Tonkel office complex draws neighbors’ ire

February 15, 2019

A big single-family home development in Washington Township drew no concerns from residents at Thursday’s public hearing of the Allen County Plan Commission. But plans for a four-building office complex on 4.4 acres at the northeast corner of Union Chapel and Tonkel roads in Cedar Creek Township were met with skepticism from a handful of neighbors.

“I think it’s very iffy,” said one nearby resident, Joyce Jordan, of plans by ProTailored Physical Therapy LLC to remodel an existing home-like office building and construct three more buildings for professional office and personal service use.

“Just because we have open space does not mean we don’t want it (to stay that way),” Jordan said. “When this (open land) is gone, we never get it back.”

She added she felt the use was more appropriate for a more urbanized area.

Fort Wayne attorney Tom Niezer, representing ProTailored, said development was all but inevitable at the corner.

The existing commercial building, which dates from 1950, was a nonconforming use, he said. The development would bring a better entrance to the property, and the new uses, expected to be compatible with the medical orientation of the physical therapy practice, would generate only limited additional traffic, Niezer said.

“It will generate additional investment,” he said.

Niezer added the property with only the existing building had been on the market for some time and had not drawn significant interest. The requested rezoning, from agricultural to professional office and personal services, would bring the property’s zoning into conformity with those uses, he said. 

“I don’t think this is iffy at all,” Niezer said of the development, noting his clients wanted to locate in a growing area with proximity to other medical uses. Parkview Medical Center is about a mile away, he said.

Nearby property owner Joel Shrock said he supported the plan, if it was done to county standards. “If you fight this now, you going to have a gas station there or maybe Parkview putting up a multistory building,” he said.

However, he said he was surprised to hear the Allen County Highway Department has plans to widen the intersection.

Ron McCleary, who lives on Tonkel Road, said the commercial development would bring increased traffic, light pollution, and, likely, crime, while lowering his property’s value.

“The reason we moved here is that it’s country : and now that’s going to change,” he said.

He said the development will set an undesirable precedent. He added that people in the neighborhood are “generally not in favor of the additional buildings” the plan proposes.

The Washington Township development, dubbed Colonial Heights, would have 156 lots and is a substantially similar revival of a primary development plan from more than a decade ago. The location is on the west side of 8000 to 8200 blocks of Huguenard Road across from Colonial Oaks Golf Club.  

Westport Homes would be the builder in the development. Longtime Fort Wayne developer Zohrab Tazanian is advancing the plan, which does not require rezoning. 

Charlie Griese, representing Westport, said homes will be priced around $230,000 and may have one or two stories. Lots are about 60 feet wide and 130 feet deep, he said.

Home styles will be similar to those in other Westport developments in Fort Wayne, Griese said.

The Plan Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Thursday in Room 30 of Citizens Square to vote on the proposals. The rezoning must also be approved by the Allen County commissioners.  

rsalter@jg.net