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Schwartz Road housing project OK’d; residents object later

February 1, 2019

This morning’s meeting of the Allen County commissioners turned contentious after the commissioners passed a rezoning measure enabling construction of 150 additional homes off the 7700 to 7900 blocks of Schwartz Road in St. Joseph Township.

Residents from a neighborhood group have been fighting the development since last year.

Today representatives told Nelson Peters, president of the commissioners, that they felt he wasn’t listening to their concerns, with one charging he has been “untruthful” and another decrying what she characterized as bias toward developers in a “pay-to-play” system.

Peters countered he took “offense” at those remarks and called “disingenuous” an early contention by the group the developer planned to bring in Section 8 federally subsidized housing.

At issue was a twice-amended plan for the Lakes at Woodfield single-family-home development advanced by Northeastern Development Corp., of Fort Wayne, represented by Ric Zehr.

Originally proposed as an 89-lot single family development with 65 single-owner rental duplexes called The Village of Woodfield, the developer scrapped the duplexes when nearby residents objected and the commissioners voted against the needed multifamily zoning.

Residents continued to oppose a new plan for single-family homes. The plan’s rezoning received a unanimous do-pass recommendation Jan. 18 by the Allen County Plan Commission. The vote came after a request for a waiver of development standards to allow five additional lots was withdrawn by the developer.

Residents said the single-family homes proposed were not comparable to others nearby in size and price, among other concerns, including increased traffic and lack of green space in an area that had been zoned for agriculture and that borders an expanse of farms. 

The 3-0 vote was taken without discussion. Residents spoke during the public comment section just before the meeting was adjourned.

rsalter@jg.net

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