Washington Township losing rural charm as development looms
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 16, 2012 11:26PM
Updated: December 16, 2012 11:26PM
VALPARAISO — A proposed upscale apartment and business park project could be just the start of new development in Washington Township.
The city has initiated two studies for land use in the once-rural township, including the Airport Zone Development Study with the county and the Porter County Regional Airport.
A first draft of the airport study, which would identify the best areas for possible business development within 15 miles surrounding the airport, should be ready early next year.
The idea for the Airport Zone Development Study came from the Valparaiso Economic Development Corp. because of the lack of “shovel-ready” sites, airport director Kyle Kuebler said.
The plan would allow the airport, county and Valparaiso to build a consensus for the future for the area.
During a May 2011 public hearing for the plan, residents around the airport voiced concerns about how development would affect property values and a way of life.
Russell Gluth, who has lived about a mile east of the airport for 20 years, recently said he and his neighbors are concerned about the growing industrial aspects and talk of an intermodal facility in their neighborhoods.
The land across from the saddle shop on U.S. 30 has been clear cut recently, and he’s concerned about how growth is proceeding.
“I was born and raised in the city and moved out to the country, and the city’s coming in, little by little,” Gluth said. “Washington Township is little bit by little bit getting picked away at.”
On Dec. 12, the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission received a proposal for an Indiana 49 corridor study, which would examine land use and zoning for the strip of land east of Indiana 49 between U.S. 6 and U.S. 30.
Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers said although not all the land is in the city, “it’s in the economic boundaries.”
On Tuesday, the Valparaiso Site Review Committee will review preliminary plans for a Gordman’s department store to be built at the north end of Porter’s Vale shopping center, while a Hobby Lobby is possible for the south end.
At a meeting last month, Mayor Jon Costas called the land east of Indiana 49 between Porter’s Vale and County Road 500N a prime investment site.
“I’m not referring to more retail stores but the type of investment that creates good jobs for our children and grandchildren,” Costas said.