Valparaiso residents speak out against proposed rezoning
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent November 26, 2012 10:26PM
Updated: December 28, 2012 6:20AM
VALPARAISO — Opposition to a proposed rezoning of city land in Washington Township remained strong Monday as residential neighbors turned out at the City Council meeting.
Although the neighbors to the proposed apartment and business park development did not number more than 200, as they did at the Nov. 13 Plan Commission meeting, they still overpacked the place with more than 100 present.
As of 9 p.m., the residents had begun to speak against the 117-acre project after the developers presented the possible plans for a 46-acre business park on the north end a T-shaped property that would have almost 72 acres of luxury apartments.
As of press time, the residents were still speaking against the project.
“They rightly wonder what’s the big rush,” attorney Lily Schaefer said.
Schaeffer, who represents some of the neighbors, noted that the proposed development first appeared before the Valparaiso Site Review Committee Nov. 6.
It then went to the Plan Commission for rezoning and public comment on Nov. 13, giving residents five working days to organize and research the matter, and then to a special Plan Commission meeting Nov. 20 for a vote.
Schaefer asked that the city have another public hearing before the scheduled Dec. 10 City Council vote on the matter because the residents had two working days to react since the Plan Commission voted Nov. 20 to recommend the council accept the rezoning.
That was with a new plan by the developers and a long Thanksgiving weekend where there were no meeting minutes or plans on the city’s website and City Hall was closed, she said.
As part of the Plan Commission’s recommendation, they put restrictions on the development.
It can never have more than 408 rental units in the apartment area and never take Section 8 or Section 42 money from the government for subsidized housing.
Buffers between houses and the property would be 25 feet, more than the 10 feet the city requires, and there would be five-foot high dirt berms acting as barriers.
Don Weiss, President of SJBZ Development, a subsidiary of Wise Way grocery stores, also said at Monday’s meeting that the development would not use Tax Increment Financing money, either.