By JOHN KLINE
---- — GOSHEN — Goshen Plan Commission members Tuesday got the initial ball rolling on the planned development of a large section of property located on Goshen’s south side to be known as the Waterford Commons Business Park.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the commission voted to provide a favorable recommendation to the Goshen City Council connected to a request by the Hoogenboom-Nofziger group seeking the rezoning of and Planned Unit Development (PUD) preliminary site plan approval for three tracts of land located within the boundaries of the planned high-end industrial park. A breakdown of the three tracts is as follows:
• Tract 1, currently zoned Agricultural A-1 and Residential R-1PUD, is a 163 acre plot of land located at the northwest corner of Dierdorff Road and Waterford Mills Parkway. The submitted request seeks to have the tract rezoned to Industrial M-1PUD.
• Tract 2, currently zoned Industrial M-1PUD, is a 27.2 acre plot of land located on the west side of Dierdorff Road, just south of Kercher Road. No zone change is being requested for this tract.
• Tract 3, currently zoned Residential R-2PUD, is an 11.3 acre plot of land located on the west side of Regent Street, just south of Waterford Mills Parkway. The submitted request seeks to have the tract rezoned to Industrial M-1PUD.
As the submitted request required a public hearing, the floor was opened to the public to allow the commission to hear any concerns, questions or statements of support for the project the public may have.
Among those to speak in favor of the request was Goshen Chamber of Commerce President David Daugherty.
For his part, Daugherty noted that Goshen is currently experiencing a serious shortfall in available lots capable of housing large-scale development such as an industrial park, adding that he and the chamber feel it is imperative that the city take advantage of this available property by allowing the planned development of the Waterford Commons Business Park to proceed.
“When we look at the needs that Goshen has for this type of industrial park — and this is not the type of industrial park we’ve typically seen in Goshen — this fits that bill quite well,” Daugherty said. “Without this, then all we’d have are a few five acre parcels and that’s about it. So it’s critical that we work to get some more land on the market so as opportunities come to our community, we have the ability to site those. This site absolutely meets the conditions that we need in Goshen for industrial land.”
Gordon Lord, a local attorney representing the Hoogenboom-Nofziger venture, was quick to agree.
“This is the most sophisticated, most detailed, most regulated industrial area I’ve seen in my tenure in Goshen,” Lord said of the planned business park. “This is not a park where an RV plant would even think about locating. This may be for suppliers of the RV industry — it could be electronics, it could be more sophisticated items — but it’s not going to be what I think many people feel it will be. It’s certainly not going to be a trailer/manufactured home or that type of facility. It’s going to be considerably higher end than that.”
Doug Risser, a resident of the Waterford Crossing Apartments assisted living facility, voiced concerns connected to the potential for increased traffic in the area should the new business park be allowed to proceed.
“The whole issue of traffic is a major concern,” Risser said. “As the Waterford Mills Parkway becomes a primary road with heavy traffic on it, there’s going to be a lot more traffic on Dierdorff going down to C.R. 40, and for us, going on Regent Street out of the Keystone Plant and other places located along Dierdorff Road.”
Risser also raised concerns about increased traffic and safety concerns connected to the nearby Prairie View Elementary School, which has property abutting portions of Tract 1 of the proposed business park development.
Tracey Noe, principal at Prairie View Elementary School, shared some of Risser’s concerns.
“The biggest thing we’re fighting right now this week is your industries that are M-1 aren’t clearing their sidewalks, so I had students walking in the road because they couldn’t get through the snow on the sidewalk,” Noe said. “So when you make decisions like this, you have to keep in mind that somebody might not take care of their property in order for us to get our students safely to the school. So I just want you to keep the school in mind as you progress down this path.”
In referencing the traffic concerns, Lord noted that he does not feel the project as planned will negatively impact traffic in the area at all.
“There is no curb cut here of any of this onto Regent Street,” Lord said of the planned development. “They’re not going by the school, not going by the single family (housing)... the only access to the two parcels to the south and southwest are off of C.R. 27 or off of Waterford Mills Parkway, and the only access to the northeast parcel is off of C.R. 27. So there are no homes, no residences impacted by expanded traffic.”
Lord also noted that many of the connector roads associated with the planned development are slated for improvements and upgrades in the next few years, a fact which he said should help to significantly reduce any traffic issues that may arise from the business park’s development.
“C.R. 40 is under an interlocal agreement with the county to be addressed and improved as you go from Dierdorff east over to U.S. 33,” Lord said. “Dierdorff has been buffed up, C.R. 38 east from Ind. 15 going up toward U.S. 33 has different project components, the C.R. 38 bridge is going to be replaced someday, and something is going to be done at the C.R. 38/U.S. 33 intersection. So when everything’s done out there, and that will be at the time this is unfolding, this area will be very well served.”
In the end, the commission determined that development of the property as a business park would be in the best interest of the city at this time, and a motion was approved to send the request on to the Goshen City Council with a favorable recommendation.
“We can’t stay where we are,” Plan Commission member Connie Garber said of the need for the planned business park. “Progress means change.”