Valpo of­fi­cials de­cide not to an­nex

Spec­ta­cle Drive res­i­dents voiced dis­ap­proval of plan

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Cain Buch­meier Post-Tri­bune Cain Buch­meier is a free­lance re­porter for the PostTri­bune.

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.

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