Westfield City Council approves Aurora Planned Unit Development, 5-2

By Anna Skinner

Spoljaric

Spoljaric

Edwards

After months of council, plan commission and public input, the Westfield City Council approved the Aurora Planned Unit Development replacement ordinance Jan. 9 with a 5-2 vote. Councilors Joe Edwards and Cindy Spoljaric voted against the project.

The more than 300-acre project was a replacement to the original 2006 ordinance, and it experienced multiple changes since council introduction last September. Changes include capping the maximum number of residential units at 250, dividing the commerce park into three separate districts, limiting the business park to allow only hotel, office or retail services, the requirement for the business park and shop areas to follow the State Road 32 Overlay architectural requirements and others.

Spoljaric was an advisory plan commission member in 2006 when the Aurora PUD was originally proposed, and then, she voted against a favorable recommendation to the council. She voted ‘No’ again at the council’s meeting Jan. 9.

“When this came through again, I was excited thinking there were new opportunities to make this a whole lot better, to meet new standards,” she said. “An attempt was made, a decent attempt, and there are things in this PUD I agree with, but there are also some things I disagree with. One of them was the reduction and size of the business park area. To me, that was a critical area to see diminished.”

Another concern from Spoljaric was the permitted uses in the development, as she thought they were too broad.

“While I understand the petitioner wants to increase flexibility and help the project from a marketing standpoint, it doesn’t give me a whole lot of good feeling in the terms of safety for our residents,” she said.

Joe Edwards also voted against the proposal, claiming the council didn’t do its job in listening to the residents and that the developer didn’t do a good job in compromising with neighbors.

“I think our greatest duty in these things is to protect the people who are already there. I think we failed to do that and failed to listen hard,” he said. “When the residents requested to meet with the petitioner to see if a compromise could be made, the petitioner failed to meet with them. I think that’s not very good behavior. I think we really need to learn how to compromise. I don’t think this is a very good way to plan.”

Keen

Remaining councilors Robert Horkay, Chuck Lehman, Jim Ake, Dr. Mark Keen and Steve Hoover all expressed support for the project.

“I do believe this is a tremendous improvement,” Keen said. “I do think to dispute Joe a little bit, I think we have two responsibilities here. We have a responsibility to the homeowners in the area, and we also have a responsibility to the taxpayers in the entire community. This development would add a tremendous sense of value, and it would help with any referendum we have by lowering the tax rate on all taxpayers in Westfield.”

For more, visit westfield.in.gov.

 

  • Cindy Spoljaric

    Thanks for your reporting. In my opinion, this was our chance to get a really good ordinance in place for a critical area of Westfield. It is difficult voting against a favorable recommendation from APC, but some parts of the plan were just too problematic. Up to 250 residential units are to be built first, which will then be directly adjacent to unknown uses but legally could include such uses as commercial smokehouses, large dry cleaning plants, even a heliport. Standards in the ordinance do not meet minimum standards for architecture, landscaping, outdoor storage screening, etc. I find no reason they cannot comply with our standards in these instances. I respect my fellow councilors vote as this is seen as an improvement to the original. In my view, however, it just was not enough.

    • Jodi Lewis Becker

      Thank you Cindy and Joe!

    • Brian Penley

      Thanks for the support, but we all knew it would come down to more money vs quality of life which Westfield “was” known for. There are two main goals most politicians strive for, money and power.

      • Josh Cambell

        You mean it “still is”. The quality of life for ALL the taxpayers in the community will go up as taxes will decrease, since there will be a more equal tax base. As opposed to all residential and very few commercial / industry, this will now help spread the tax revenue with more commercial and industry, especially the “industry” (in quotes because people freak out over that word and don’t understand what that means in today’s day and age), that’s where the big bucks will be rolling in. Along with this approval there will be more money also! Hey look, a decision that came down to quality of life vs more money and they choice BOTH. Good job Westfield, keep on doing what you’re doing and can’t wait for the future!

        • Brian Penley

          Josh, good news, the first phase of the project is the new housing that will be abutting the industrial area, since you’re so much in favor or this I assume you’ll be rushing to buy one of the first homes! If not your words mean nothing.
          We are not part of the city of Westfield, most of the homes affected are in the township and don’t get to vote for mayor or city council but they get to make the rules that affect us, real fair representation.
          The bright side is that because of this we have a lot more latitude as to what we can do on our agricultural land, I guess we will see how that fits in.

          • Josh Cambell

            Didn’t ask