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Posted on Fri. Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

Planners reject subdivision plan outside Grabill

Saddle Creek was to be on Witmer Road

FORT WAYNE — The Allen County Plan Commission voted down a controversial housing development near Grabill on Thursday.

Granite Ridge Builders had wanted 38 acres in the 12100 to 12500 block of Witmer Road rezoned from agricultural to single-family residential so it could build Saddle Creek Estates, a 102-lot subdivision with a density of about 2.7 units an acre. The homes were to range in price from $175,000 to $250,000.

All surrounding properties are zoned agricultural, and neighbors had said the development would destroy a way of life in a predominantly Amish farming area and voiced concerns about traffic, drainage and safety.

Planning department staff members said the development was not consistent with the comprehensive plan, and several commission members said they were concerned that it was creating an island of dense, residential development where none exists.

Other members cited the safety concerns of the increased traffic on a rural road frequented by horse-drawn vehicles.

Plan commission members voted 7-2 to recommend the Allen County commissioners deny the rezoning, with Susan Hoot and Ken Neumeister voting in favor of the rezoning.

Other plan commission matters Thursday included:

•A proposal from Chestnut Group to develop about 48 acres into a single-family subdivision called Timber Ridge with 119 homes on the south side of Gump Road, just west of the intersection of Coldwater and Cedar Canyon roads, won unanimous approval despite bickering between two municipalities and a threat of litigation.

Zoning to build multiunit villas on the site was approved in 2005, but it was never developed because of issues over water and sewer service.

The commission was being asked to approve the development plan for the single family homes; legally, its attorney said, the commission’s only task was to decide whether the plan met the requirements of the ordinance.

One of those requirements is that water and sewer service are available. Chestnut Group said those services would be provided by Fort Wayne City Utilities.

That led Huntertown attorney David Hawk to say the land was in Huntertown’s service planning area and if approved, Huntertown would be forced to seek an injunction preventing development until its right to provide utilities was preserved.

He asked that the decision be delayed 30 days until a new contract with Fort Wayne could be worked out.

“There’s a legal issue here of primacy,” Hawk said. “We were here first. If you go forward, you force our hand into more litigation.”

Huntertown is already suing Fort Wayne over the wholesale sewage contract Huntertown terminated with the city in April.

Tom Niezer, attorney for Chestnut Group, said the law only requires proof that someone will provide utilities.

“You have not one, but two public utilities apparently clamoring to provide service,” he said. “You can’t treat this developer differently just because all the sudden the town of Huntertown woke up.”

•A petition to rezone about 34 acres on the west side of Wellington Reserve near Bass and Leesburg roads to allow the development of 93 single-family and two-family homes was unanimously approved. A neighbor had said she had no objection to development but opposed two-family homes, which would abut her property; the developer offered a written commitment to make the two lots nearest her single-family homes instead.

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