The Huntingburg Common Council approved an ordinance to rezone property along 22nd Street from R2 (multi-family residential) to B2 (heavy business) to allow the creation of an Access Storage self-storage facility.
Ferdinand based Progressive Investment Company operates Access Storage Now in Ferdinand, Jasper, Corydon and Newburgh. They purchased a facility on Sixth Street in Huntingburg and would like to install a new storage facility on Huntingburg’s north side.
To facilitate the project, Progressive Investment will purchase the vacant 11 acre field running on the south side of 22nd Street. The field is largely bordered by residences on 22nd, Leland Drive and 21st Street. They petitioned the Huntingburg Planning Commission to approve a request to change the zoning earlier this month. The request passed 6 to 3.
Tuesday night, Councilman Tim Wehr and Councilman Kerry Blessinger opposed the ordinance changing the zoning of the area. Wehr stated he felt other areas of the city were more appropriate for the project and listed a property that was for sale in a less residential area. He sided with the local residents, stating he understood their issue with the development.He said that although he lives near a factory now, if he had moved to an area without a factory and then one was proposed to be built there, he would fight it.
Blessinger noted his issue with the portion of the property that will be rezoned but Progressive Investment Company has not revealed their plans for it in the future. He said he didn’t have a problem with the storage facility but he was concerned about the types of businesses that could be allowed on the remaining portion of the property to the west.
In voting yes for the ordinance, Councilman Jeff Bounds noted this issue had consumed more of his time as a council member than any other issue since he was appointed. “I want the rest of the council and anyone here observing this evening, that I have done as much research as I can do,” he said.
He explained he had talked with nearly all the residents around the development, the developer and reached out to realtors to determine the impact on the area. With residents concerned their property values would be negatively impacted by the development, Bounds said he was reassured by two of three realtors he spoke with that it would not.
He added that he was provided a study of a similar development in another state that indicated property values would not be impacted.
He explained that he decided to vote in favor of the project based on the research as well as his own experience with his home on Main Street/U.S. 231. It sits across from the Family Dollar at 705 Main. “I remember when the three homes across from me were tore down. There was a lot of angst in the community about what was going to replace them. I even became somewhat accustomed to the green space across the street from me,” he explained. “Then when there was talk of the Family Dollar going in, I went through the whole process. I didn’t want it and didn’t like it. I’m just trying to say from a personal perspective how I came to this conclusion.”
He said he was confident with Progressive Development being considerate of the homeowners as they develop the rest of the property.
“Given some time, it is going to be a welcome addition to Huntingburg,” Bounds said. “What you are putting there is needed by the people in town.”
He added he would likely use it to store the garage full of his daughter’s furniture he has. He noted the recent decision to lower property sizes for Hunters Crossing belays the trend that homes are getting smaller and will need storage options.
“I feel we have given a consideration to all those who have expressed an opinion about it,” he said. “I want people to know the council has spent a lot of time but ultimately, I feel very strongly about the considerations we have to take as a council by the recommendation of the board of zoning appeals. Those people did their homework also.”
The council heard from one resident near the development during the public meeting Tuesday night. Steven Beck lives on East Northview Drive.
“My neighbors were very much opposed to the development in the residential area,” he said.
Beck explained he couldn’t fault the Progressive for the quality of the facilities they have developed in the county. But, he said he was concerned with the future of the development in Huntingburg. “There are no guarantees the developer won’t develop it and then sell it in five years to another developer that won’t have the same standards,” he said.
He added that he felt there was a better place to put the storage facility that wouldn’t impact the northern growth of the city.
“The general feeling is that we (citizens) can come to a meeting, we are heard but there is really no listening to our concerns,” Beck said. “We would like to keep it a residential area.”
The ordinance was passed on the first reading Tuesday evening.
The council also took the following actions at the meeting:
- Approved appointing Gary Meyerholtz as the new Water Superintendent for the City of Huntingburg. Story here.
- Approved the salary ordinance providing a 1 percent pay increase to employees with up to a 1 percent merit-based increase.
- Approved increasing employee insurance contributions to premiums from $20 to $35 bi-weekly as well as increased the incentive for a non-tobacco user from $10 to $20. This does not impact spouses or children rates in family plans.
- Approved the net-metering ordinance regulating the installation of renewable energy sources like solar and hydroelectric power on residences.
- Heard an update from Nick Jahn with V.S. Engineering on the Market Street Park and Heritage Trail Stellar projects. He reported plans are about 30 percent completed and geo-technical studies are being conducted along Fourth Street. Jahn is holding hours at Current Blend to take comments from the public and businesses. Those hours are between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on the following dates: Wednesday, October 26; Wednesday, November 9; Wednesday, November 23; Wednesday, November 30; Wednesday, December 7; and Wednesday, December 21.
- Heard an electical and gas utility update from John Reutepohler. He reported the overpass project has brought to light that several utility poles in the industrial park need replaced due to their age. Some of the poles were placed in the 70s.
- Heard an water utility update from Jason Stamm. He reported several leaks the department has been dealing with. The department replaced caps on the hydrants to bring them up to code. They located and marked all the valves for the overpass project and will need to relocate a water line due to the project.
- Approved a quote of $30,129.70 from Utility Supply for parts to complete the water line move around the overpass project. They were the low bidder.