Valpo officials decide not to annex
Spectacle Drive residents voiced disapproval of plan
The Valparaiso City Council on Monday voted against the proposed annexation of a 17.14-acre parcel near Spectacle Drive.
Dozens of nearby residents spoke out against the proposal at recent hearings with to concerns over safety, drainage and environmental issues. Council members Robert Cotton, Diana Reed, Deb Porter and Lenore Hoffman voted against the proposal in the 4-3 vote.
“This is a very unique situation. If we take over Spectacle Drive there are people on either side that are in the county,” Hoffman said. “This is an unusual, unique annexation.”
Prior to the vote, Mayor Jon Costas said he does not believe the property is the type of land that is typically preserved. Preservation of the land is the preferred outcome for many residents of the area.
“It’s a small area, not like an arboretum. It’s an island that butts the city and the county,” Costas said. “Lands that are preserved are not typically like this, and I question whether or not that will be very difficult to do.”
Resident Tom Banaszak was pleased with the outcome of the vote and said he disagreed with the mayor’s view.
“Basically speaking, there are many ramifications to (the annexation). Stormwater, environmental,” Banaszak said. “It’s contiguous to the lake and it’s adjacent to the parks system. Right now, I’m happy.”
Babs Polizotto, who said she owns lots near the proposed annexation and is part of a group interested in buying the property, said the land would make for a great preserve in the name of the property owners, the Kilmer family.
“It’s really hard to process. There’s so many animals. Everyone would be happy with a (preservation) because it’s saving the animals. They would all die eventually if a subdivision was built,” Polizotto said. “We just don’t have much wildlife left anyway, but this has been home to many of our animals. We save the elephants, so we need to save these, our local animals, too.”
Speaking on behalf of his client, the Kilmer family, which owns the property, Todd A. Leeth of Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans LLP has said several times that if the city council were to vote against the proposed annexation, his client would then seek to develop the land through Porter County rather than the city of Valparaiso.
Carol Himes, a member of the Kilmer family, mentioned in a letter that was read at the Oct. 9 plan commission meeting that the family would be open to alternative solutions, such as community members like Po liz otto and others pitching in to buy the property with the intent of making the land a nature preserve.