Plan commission recommends rezoning of property

By Ashlee Hoos

Jun 13, 2018

ANGOLA — The Angola Plan Commission is forwarding a favorable recommendation to the Angola Common Council to amend the city zoning map for the property at 907 S. Wayne St., which passed by a 6-5 vote.

The current zoning for the property, which houses the Steuben Enterprise Center, is low intensity industrial district, traditional residential and small to medium general commercial. The applicants, Brightpoint and Keller Development, requested the recommendation to zone the area as a planned unit development district to enable development of apartments.

City planner Vivian Likes said Monday was the first time she knows of the city plan commission ever doing a planned development.

The decision gets forwarded to the Angola Common Council in the form of an ordinance that will set the standards for development within the district. The ordinance has to pass on three readings.

Danelle Beiberstein of Keller Development, Fort Wayne, spoke on behalf of the project. The plan is to rezone the area to construct Enterprise Pointe, a 50-unit, two-bedroom affordable apartment building targeted at artists and entrepreneurs. A co-working space which will be operated by the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. will also be built.

It is also proposed to demolish the old, currently unused buildings on the property. The Enterprise Center itself, however, will stay.

“We feel the best use of the property is the mixed use we are proposing,” she said.

The apartments will be approximately 925 square feet per unit. The complex itself will have 85 total parking spaces designated just for the units. The goal is to begin construction in 2020 with a completion date of spring 2021.

The area will also feature an artist gallery, a soundproof production lounge, community activities room and other amenities for residents to make use of. Most units will have utility sinks and a mudroom area. All will have durable flooring and walls as well as work space for the tenant.

According to the ordinance, the multi-family apartment building will be limited to three stories and no more than 45 feet in height. The co-working building shall not exceed 25 feet in height.

Beiberstein said all tenants in the apartments will have to have some sort of income and rent will be $350-650, depending on income. If the units cannot be filled with artists and entrepreneurs, she said other low income applicants will be considered.

Trees and shrubs will landscape around the building and act as a buffer to block the development from the surrounding, existing homes.

Commission member Jeff Peters asked why the units would be low income housing and Beiberstein said a market study has identified a need for more low income housing in the area as have talks with the Angola Housing Authority, a federal agency.

A similar property Keller Development owns in Goshen has a waitlist for its 40 units, Beiberstein said.

Commission member Craig Williams reminded people that the space is an entrepreneurial space. Many were getting hung up on the word artist and were forgetting that the units will be for a broader spectrum than just artists.

“This is for someone with a knack for using their skills,” he said.

Many community members voiced their concern, mainly over traffic. The facility will have entrances and exits with two-way traffic on Felicity Street and South Wayne Street.

Resident Daryl Weber said he’d like to see industry move back into the space instead.

“I’m disappointed to see the opportunity lost for light industrial or commercial in there,” he said.

With the possibility of renting to those that don’t fall under the artist or entrepreneur requirement for the units, community member Susan Jacobson said the police need to be around because of known problems in other low income areas.

Commission member Joe Hysong said proceeding will open Pandora’s Box to an extent, but saying no would be like saying “well this is good, but not for Angola.”

“The community does need housing and lot of low income people are renting apartments,” said commission member Tina King. “It’s not easy. We also need to listen to the neighbors and their questions.”

Commission member Veryl Carpenter said he doesn’t see the rezoning devaluing any of the surrounding properties, which was another concern brought to the commission.

“If we don’t change the zoning, these buildings will sit there forever,” Carpenter said. “No manufacturing will come in there because it’s not up to standard.”

Commission members Gene Burd, Carpenter, Dennis Doerr, Charles Sheets, Craig Williams and Hysong voted in favor. Members Bill Boyer, King, Jeff Martin, Peters and Anne Watkins voted to deny the motion.

Public hearings on the ordinance will be held during the coming Common Council meetings, which are Monday and July 2 at 7 p.m., giving people at least two more meetings to hear the ordinance. Likes said, however, it could also go as far as the July 16 meeting.

If passed, development plans, plat and infrastructure plans for the site will all have to come back to the plan commission for approval.