Planners give green light to insurance building

By Lee Sauer news@kpcmedia.com

ANGOLA — The Angola Plan Commission has approved a plan to build an insurance office building in a vacant lot a few blocks north of downtown.

The commission met Monday in City Hall.

Wagler and Associates intends to build an office building for Northwest Mutual Insurance on two back-to-back properties that stretch between North Wayne and Elizabeth streets. City Planner Vivian Likes told the council the proposed address for the property is 417 North Wayne Street, but the address may change. Wagler will own the building, which Northwest will occupy through a lease agreement.

The project will be built in a neighborhood that contained single-family homes in years past, but more recently has given way to buildings for businesses. The lot of the project sits in the middle of this transition: on the south is an older house out of which a bed-and-breakfast operates; to the north is a building that contains the office building of Renovations by Wagler. (Both Wagler companies are operated by the same family.)

Commission member Eugene Burd, who also sits on the Board of Zoning Appeals, pointed out that the plan originally included a parking lot that went right up to the property line. In consideration of its residential neighbor, the BZA asked Wagler to ease the transition with a green area (an area containing plants). Burd noted that Wagler updated the plans as requested.

“They made the change, which is what we asked them to do,” he said.

City Engineer Amanda Cope told the commission the city required Wagler to sign an agreement that placed responsibility for maintenance of an underground water storage system on the developer. From this point forward, said Cope, all development within the city will be asked to sign a similar agreement.

This prompted commission member Jeff Peters to ask how the underground system would work. Would there be standing water on the property?

Cope said the system would be completely underground. It included a stone-lined trench and perforated pipe, which would ultimately connect to the city’s storm sewer.

Commission member Veryl Carpenter noted that Angola’s First Congregational United Church of Christ had a similar system in its parking lot — which had been installed by Wagler.

“It has worked nicely. No problem,” he said.

Laura Kane represented Wagler at the meeting. She said Northwest would only conduct business during daylight hours, so there would be no nighttime traffic. The parking lot would be illuminated with lights affixed to the bulding, so there would be no poles in the parking lot.

Kane described the Northwest project as “respectful of Angola.” The company has offices in Fort Wayne, she said, and it already operates a satellite office in Angola, leasing office space from Croxton and Roe Insurance Services, Inc.

“They’re a good, solid company,” said Kane. “They’ll be an asset to the community.”

Commission chair Jeff Martin opened the meeting to public comment, but no one spoke for or against the project.

The commission approved the plan unanimously.

The commission had also been scheduled to consider a plan for construction of an auto sales lot, offices and service center on North Wayne Street, across the street and south of Menards. But Likes reported that issues between the city, state and company were still being worked out. She suggested the commission table consideration of the project until the November meeting, which the commission did.