Developers Get Nod To Move Forward With Greenbriar

Developers of the Greenbriar subdivision heard the remonstrators’ comments at the Sept. 13 Warsaw Plan Commission meeting and adjusted their plans.

Those adjustments – while not totally satisfying the remonstrators from The Dells subdivision – were enough to get unanimous approval Monday night from the Commission for a primary/preliminary plat for a subdivided 33.256-acre lot into 86 lots that are in a Residential-1 zone; and a favorable recommendation for a planned unit development (PUD) rezoning from the Commission to the City Council. The PUD has been reduced in size from the previous submittal, from covering the entirety of the proposed 42-acre development to only 9 acres of the site containing attached single-family residential units (villaminiums).

The proposed subdivision is at the northeast corner of CR 350N and Airport Road in Warsaw. The property is owned by Chandler and Erin Williams and is being developed by Oakmont Development, Fort Wayne, but Greenbriar will be sold in its entirety to a company called D.R. Horton, America’s largest residential home construction company, according to information presented last month.

At the Sept. 13 Commission meeting, concerns about the notice for the public hearing on the Greenbriar planned unit development led the Commission to table the rezoning to Monday’s meeting. The legal notice was first brought up by attorney Steve Snyder on behalf of remonstrators Tony and Mary Nicholas and The Dells Homeowners Association.

Snyder also talked about many of the similar issues that he brought up at the July BZA meeting, including traffic flow, the noise from the airport, the developer can build about 80 homes on the property as it is now and a PUD just doesn’t fit.

Greenbriar went before the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals July 26 for two petitions for variances, but the BZA denied both petitions 4-0 after hearing from the petitioner, Jeff Thomas of Oakmont Development, and a room full of remonstrators. The BZA denied the variances because they found no hardships on behalf of the developers.

For Monday’s hearing, the petition for the preliminary plat and the PUD were heard together but the Commission voted on them separately.

In his information to the Commission on the preliminary plat, City Planner Justin Taylor said the proposed development provides an access road to CR 350N and Airport Road to the west. He said a connection to the Dells through Knollwood Drive also is being proposed as part of the development.

“The connection to the Dells was planned during construction of that subdivision and will directly benefit the residents on the north, giving them an access to Airport Road,” he said.

Taylor said the county does not maintain Knollwood Drive because their trucks are not able to turn around. “This connection would fix that issue by providing county access an ability to turn their trucks around.”

He said the proposed development meets the requirements for an R-1 zoning district, so it was the opinion of the Warsaw Planning Department that the preliminary plat for Greenbriar should be approved.

On the PUD, Taylor said it was the opinion of the Planning Department that the Commission could give it a favorable recommendation.

“We implore you to not lose sight of the overall health and needs of our community. The lack of housing necessary for talent acquisition and retention has been highlighted over and over by studies and committees tasked with economic development. We will be doing a disservice to the long-term health and stability of our community if we fail to recognize the benefits that diverse housing could bring to our community,” Taylor said, adding that PUD is a tool in the city’s toolbox.

Thomas M. Niezer, Fort Wayne attorney for the developers, spoke in favor of the preliminary plat and PUD.

“This is being presented to you as an integrated development – the PUD with the preliminary plat,” he said. “Oakmont took very seriously the comments that were made last month by the neighboring public, and as a result has gone back to the drawing board and vastly reduced the PUD scope of the overall project. Has over 33 acres now that is assigned to just R-1 development and in addition to that, went ahead and looked at the engineering and analysis of an additional access cut onto Airport Road, which is now reflected on the primary plat. All 33-plus acres of the primary plat in front of you this evening meets all of your development standards under the Warsaw zoning ordinance within an R-1 zoning district.”

With that, in the northeast corner, he said there’s a “vastly reduced” PUD zoning of just 9 acres. He said that is a zoning change they are requesting a favorable recommendation for from the Commission to the City Council. He said the highest and best use of that piece of land, given that the Dells is there, is residential development.

He said the city’s comprehensive plan very clearly talks about diversity of residential housing, and that’s what the PUD affords.

“In this case, it will afford a single-family residential housing, but of a villaminium nature, which means no obligation for exterior maintenance. That’s given to the association. It’s more of a care-free housing solution. It has nothing to do with pricing and value. It has everything to do with the lifestyle of the property. And so, the 42 villaminiums that are proposed for the villas Greenbriar within the PUD area are all designed to meet that market, which is very prevalent in the Warsaw area, for empty nesters, retired individuals looking for a maintenance-free type of living environment,” Niezer said.

To supplement that, he said, the developers have provided a written commitment – allowed under state statute and already signed by the Mr. & Mrs. Williams and Greenbriar Development (an affiliate of Oakmont).

“The purpose of the written commitment is to give the Plan Commission and then City Council an envelope, so to speak, of what will occur within the PUD zoning district,” Niezer said. The commitment lays out the framework of what will happen and allows only single-family residential development. It provides for a maximum of 42 lots, a minimum square footage, a minimum two-car bay, setback requirements and front residential and exterior material standards.

The letter will be placed in the Kosciusko County auditor’s office and will steer the actual development, he said.

Niezer also pointed out that Greenbriar will be entirely on the city’s sanitary sewer service.

Snyder, on behalf of the Dells Homeowners Association, said there are some significant improvements made to the integrated plan. He said the R-1 zoning is now in compliance with the city’s subdivision control ordinance “and we’re not in a position to object to that because if it is in compliance, it is to be approved.”

However, he said the layout still leaves the issue of the connection to Knollwood. He said the direct access to Airport Road and CR 350N should be able to handle the Greenbriar subdivision without dumping traffic down Knollwood and into a “less dense area of residential development.” He also talked about the inconsistencies between the Dells, which was done under county rules, and Greenbriar, which will be done under the city’s rules. Niezer refuting Snyder’s comments in his rebuttal before the meeting was closed to the public.

City engineer and Commission member James Emans supported the interconnection between the subdivisions and said that was a huge benefit to first responders. Councilman Jeff Grose said the Greenbriar plans would be a huge advantage to the Dells, saying traffic would never again have to go through the Dells.

Councilwoman Diane Quance said the city’s rules of living are more strict than the county’s so there wouldn’t be leaf burning and poorly maintained properties.

Emans made the motion to approve the preliminary/primary plat, while Quance made the motion to send a favorable recommendation on the PUD to the Council. Both were approved 7-0.