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Rezonings sought for industrial expansion

February 8, 2019

Two projects designed to ease the way to industrial growth have been submitted to Fort Wayne-area planning authorities.

One seeks rezoning of 138 acres in Pleasant Township east of Fort Wayne International Airport to intensive industrial. The land consists of two parcels, a 98-acre tract zoned business, technology and industrial park and a 40-acre tract zoned single-family residential. 

The second proposal combines six parcels containing 23 acres near American Axle & Manufacturing’s facility at 6710 Innovation Drive in Fort Wayne to allow for a building expansion.

No details were available Thursday about the expansion, except that it will include a 65,000-square-foot building plus a 4,900-square-foot accessory structure.

Chris Son, vice president of marketing and communications, did not return a call seeking information Thursday. 

Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, said no immediate plans exist for using the land proposed to be rezoned.

He said the rezoning was sought to bring the land into conformity with nearby parcels and make it easier to market. 

“We have no leads for this parcel of ground,” he said. “In the event somebody comes along, (the rezoning means) we are prepared for things to go quicker.”

Hinderman said one reason for acquiring the land is protecting it from being sold for uses incompatible with the airport.

However, among the possible uses for the land might be development of a so-called spec or shell building for industry, Hinderman said.

He added any business on the property would have to meet airport-related rules so as not to interfere with airport operations. 

A spec building is one built without a user in mind; a shell building’s interior is left unfinished so the occupant can design it to suit specific needs. 

Intensive industrial is the county’s least restrictive zoning category and allows for screened outdoor storage and uses including fabrication, manufacturing and dismantling.

Hinderman said some the acreage to be rezoned is now being farmed, and a greenhouse on part of it is rented. He said the airport authority would honor leases and that no one would be displaced if the property finds another use.

Allen County property records show the 98 acres zoned business, technology and industrial were formerly owned by Hensch Bros., a commercial horticultural grower, until they were sold to the airport for $1.02 million in 2012.

The rest of the land was acquired last year from Crown Hill Farms. Property records do not list a price.

The land is on the north side of Winters Road and east of Buskirk Road. Last year, a 66-acre tract off Airport Expressway between Coverdale and Smith roads to its north was eyed for possible development of spec industrial buildings by Continental Properties.

The Minnesota developer also is working on a riverfront mixed-use project in Fort Wayne.

The airport proposal will have a public hearing in front of the Fort Wayne Plan Commission at 1 p.m. March 14. The American Axle plan’s public hearing before the Fort Wayne Plan Commission will be at 5:30 p.m. March 11.

rsalter@jg.net

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