Hearing on warehouse project delayed

People packed the room for a Plan Commission public hearing Thursday.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The debate about building a big warehouse and truck hub in southwest Allen County will continue for at least another month. The public hearing on the project was postponed Thursday.

People packed the room at the Allen County Plan Commission’s public hearing.

“A lot of people just found out about the project last week and we’ve been working around the clock to educate people about what’s going on,” Grant Schultz said.

This rendering was submitted to the Department of Planning Services on July 7, 2015.
This rendering was submitted to the Department of Planning Services on July 7, 2015.

A proposal from Crown Enterprises/Central Transport to the plan commission is asking to rezone 87 acres along Lower Huntington Road, which is called Winters Road in that area, just north of the GM plant from agricultural to industrial. There’s also a proposed plan to then build a 776,500-square-foot warehouse with parking for around 280 trailers.

“There’s no reason to be putting that truck stop or truck terminal or whatever you want to call it in an agricultural area. They should go across the interstate to where the business plan of Allen County says they should be,” Schultz said.

NewsChannel 15 caught up with several neighbors on Wednesday who are upset saying the project will ruin the landscape, bring more traffic and goes against a county land use study.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see continued industrialization push up in to the rural area when there’s already areas zoned that way for industrial south of the GM plant. There’s plenty of land,” Tiffany D’Virgilio, who lives near the proposed warehouse site, said.

At the scheduled public hearing Thursday, an attorney for the project developers said they didn’t know so many people opposed the plans because only four people showed up to a hearing the developers held on August 3.

“I live right there and I certainly didn’t hear about a meeting on August 3rd,” D’Virgilio said.

When Schultz was questioning the commission’s decision to postpone the hearing, he asked the audience members who knew about the developer’s meeting to stand. About five people stood up.

“The meeting was held next to my office and I didn’t know about it. They have not made any effort to communicate to the general public what’s going on,” Schultz said.

County Councilman and plan commission member Roy Buskirk also didn’t buy that the developer wasn’t aware of the opposition.

“One person who was [at the August 3rd meeting] told me that they let them know it was a lot more people in opposition to this than just the four of them,” Buskirk said. “There are all the signs in the community. They have a website and [the developers] say ‘Oh, we didn’t know about any opposition’ until they stated getting letters the day before yesterday? Yeah.”

The developer’s attorney said they want to take the next month to work out a compromise with the people who oppose the project. “We want to be responsive to the concerns being expressed now,” the attorney told the commission.

Buskirk and John Henry voted against delaying the public hearing, but the motion passed. Other plan commission members said the developers should be given a chance to compromise with the neighbors.

Schultz doesn’t think a compromise will be reached unless the project goes to a different location. D’Virgilio agreed.

“I don’t think some bushes and trees between us and a 200-bay trucking facility and warehouse will make much of a difference. Not to the noise pollution, not to the light pollution, not to the truck and traffic problem we’ll have,” D’Virgilio said.

The public hearing will now be at 1 p.m. in room 35 in Citizens Square on September 17.

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