City Council ap­proves fis­cal plan for po­ten­tial Valpo an­nex

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Cain Buch­meier Post-Tri­bune

Val­paraiso Mayor Jon Costas urged res­i­dents to not read too much into the 4-3 pas­sage of a fis­cal plan for the pro­posed an­nex­a­tion of a 17.14-acre par­cel near Spec­ta­cle Drive in Val­paraiso.

“A fis­cal plan is so, if it were to be adopted, we’d have the project funds set up,” Costas said.

City Council mem­bers Robert Cot­ton, Diana Reed and Deb Porter voted “no” af­ter a pub­lic hear­ing where more than two dozen res­i­dents voiced their con­cerns about the pro­posal — the pri­mar y ones be­ing drainage is­sues and the width of Spec­ta­cle Drive. En­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and the pos­si­ble chang­ing of the neigh­bor­hood’s iden­tity were also ex­pressed.

“I’m op­posed be­cause there will be 41 homes. All the homes use Spec­ta­cle Drive. That’s 82 cars us­ing that road and we fear for our chil­dren’s and neigh­bors’ lives,” Joann Gil­martin, of Spec­ta­cle Drive, said. “I’m not afraid of change; I’m afraid of my chil­dren get­ting hit by a car.”

Speak­ing on be­half of his client, the Kilmer fam­ily, which owns the prop­erty, Todd A. Leeth of Hoepp­ner, Wag­ner & Evans LLP said, “ac­cord­ing to the an­nex­a­tion agree­ment, all homes are sub­ject to re­stric­tive covenant pro­mot­ing ar­chi­tec­tural di­ver­sity, so they won’t have that cookie cut­ter look.”

“With one ex­cep­tion, there will be no driveways onto Spec­ta­cle Drive,” Leeth said. “Re­gard­less of an­nex­a­tion, drainage must be man­aged.”

Leeth said there will be 27 lots of 11,000 square feet with a width of 100 feet, “ex­actly as on An­dover Drive”, and 12 lots 10,000 square feet with a width of 80 feet.

“We’ve done a good job of mak­ing these 1 1 ,00 0square-feet lots fit in with the com­mu­nity,” Leeth said. “We do not have a builder and devel­oper in mind. It may be self-de­vel­oped, or it may be given to a turnkey op­er­a­tion.”

Val­paraiso res­i­dent Larry McAfee sug­gested the com­mu­nity pitch in to pur­chase the prop­erty, a no­tion that Carol Himes, a mem­ber of the Kilmer fam­ily, men­tioned in a let­ter that was read at the Oct. 9 plan com­mis­sion meet­ing.

“Let’s not pro­hibit the pos­si­bil­ity of al­ter­na­tive op­tions. Let’s get a group of peo­ple to­gether to buy the prop­erty and have it re­main the Kilmer Na­ture Pre­serve for per­pe­tu­ity,” McAfee said. “Let’s buy the prop­erty and let’s de­velop it by leav­ing it in its nat­u­ral state.”

Tyler Kent, planning di­rec­tor, said 10 homes are ex­pected to be con­structed the first year, with 10 more homes each ad­di­tional year, and that the ap­prox­i­mate value of each is home is $325,000. The an­nex­a­tion pro­posal will con­tinue to be dis­cussed at the next city council meet­ing at 7 p.m. Nov. 12.

Cain Buch­meier is a free­lance reporter at the PostTri­bune.

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