New subdivision is a poor fit for rural area
BY Mark E. Bluell October 16, 2013 11:58AM
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:42AM
On Oct. 9, the Porter County Plan Commission held a hearing to review, approve, or reject the plan for the 434-unit Grand Oaks housing development near Division Road, Route 2, and 100 South. It became apparent that the board was more interested in making a square peg fit into a round hole than to develop a project that would enhance the local community. With the use of variances that had been obtained over the last four years the Grand Oaks representatives would make the peg fit by rounding off the edges of the peg resulting in an increased tax base for county government.
Thirty or so concerned residents attended the meeting presumably by seeing the hearing sign posted near where the development road will intersect 100 South. I’m guessing there was one at a similar location on Division Road. I would have thought a lot more people would have been interested in what was going on, but perhaps they all knew that this was a done deal. The hearing consisted of two cases. The first case was about a private owner wishing to create a grass landing strip for private airplanes. Following this proposal, the board stated that the owner should have informed all other community members affected with a letter; however, after the second presentation about the Grand Oaks housing development, the board did not make a similar comment about the need to inform the school or other affected citizens. I wonder — if the development group had informed the school along with the other local residents, would the hearing have been more heavily attended? I think so.
The development group and the plan board appeared to show little concern for many factors that would negatively affect the community, including:
(1) increased traffic at Route 2 and Division and at the intersection of 100 South and Route 2;
(2) the Boone Grove School is not currently large enough to accommodate the 800 new students even over an extended period; however, the development group merely suggested that the school district could make new additions to the building;
(3) wildlife was written off by stating the deer act crazy during the rut season anyway. It was only the public who seemed to care about the rural nature of the community. Too bad!
The development group and the board did, however, have concerns about how long they would be able to get potable water from Valparaiso. Would Valparaiso go to Lake Michigan water some day? Near the end of the meeting the board suggested contacting the highway department for a possible traffic solution.
I had more questions that were not answered. For example, who will explain to the family that hit a deer and wrecked their car or worse, that the deer was looking for a satisfactory habitat that was lost in the creation of the housing development? Who will explain to the new residents that they will have hungry deer munching their landscaping plants? Who will explain that the hungry mosquitoes from the eight retention ponds will be eating them? Who will explain to the parents of the Boone Grove school that with the completion of the 434-unit community that there will be approximately 800 more students? Who will pay for the needed additions to the Boone Grove Schools as the student population increases? You know. What will the drivers be saying about other drivers who pull out in front of them on Route 2? What will happen to the food web in the creek flowing through the development with lawn fertilizer, insecticides and road salt washing into the water?
All of these questions lead me to believe that perhaps this isn’t the right location to increase the county tax base.
By the end of the two-and-a-half-hour hearing it became obvious that the project would happen regardless of public opinion. The square peg would be shoved into the round hole. I’m left to wonder what the commission’s plans are for county development. What agricultural land will come up for sale next? Perhaps it will be the undeveloped land near you? The next county hearing is to be scheduled sometime in November. The county hearings take place at The Porter County Administration building located on Indiana Avenue. If you are concerned about future county development, I urge you to attend the upcoming hearing and voice your opinions.
Mark Bluell lives in Porter County near the site of the proposed