Residents respond to downtown townhome project

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A proposal for a new housing development in downtown Westfield received mixed feedback during a public hearing during a recent Westfield Advisory Plan Commission meeting.

Estridge Homes and 11th Street Development, the developers for the proposed Poplar Street Townhomes project, which is set to build approximately 24 townhomes in downtown Westfield, are petitioning the city to change the zoning of 1.26 acres on the west side of Poplar Street between Jersey and Park streets.

If approved by the plan commission and the Westfield City Council, zoning would change from multi-family low-density residential to single-family attached residential.

The APC’s Sept. 16 meeting served as a public hearing for the zoning request, and commissioners will vote at their Oct. 7 meeting to either send a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to the Westfield City Council.

Bob Beauchamp, a Westfield resident, spoke in favor of the development.

“I’ve lived here since 1985. In the last few years, I’ve developed the Park Street restaurants, and this project looks like it would be a perfect fit with Park Street,” Beauchamp said. “So, I’m here speaking for my tenants and as an individual who has money invested. Estridge builds quality products, and they’re not asking for any city money, and I think that’s a huge benefit.”

Linda Naas, a resident representing the 161st Street Neighbors group, said she is concerned about the project being developed without architectural standards for the downtown district being in place.

“In the 1970s, the city was talking about plans to repurpose and improve buildings downtown,” Naas said. “In 1999, the (comprehensive) plan notes a need for a special study of the downtown area. In 2007, it said the same thing, listing details of what to be concerned about. In the 2009 Grand Junction addendum, it said the same thing, and the process was started. However, the priorities were not completed or followed to completion. The focus went to the plaza, and all the important priorities were left undone. The first priority was in the gateway subdistrict, where this is located, to develop architectural standards. It also talked about making sure everything worked together, but these architectural standards have not been developed in any of these districts.

“We’re asking you to slow down, be careful. We don’t want to risk again Westfield being developed in a mismatched (way). Let’s have a cohesive plan.”

Commissioner Scott Willis said although he agrees about the need for a plan, he supports the project.

“I don’t think we have a great vision for what we want downtown to look like. I, too, am concerned we’re going to have a hodgepodge of (planned unit developments) start to pop up downtown, but that’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Willis said. “This is obviously a nice-looking project, and we’ve got to get something going downtown. We’ll have a really nice park downtown but no one to go to the park and no place to park to go to the park. I, personally, think this is the right time for something like this.”

Townhome prices would range from $350,000 to $400,000, with three different models available.

The next APC meeting is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at City Hall, 130 Penn St. To see an agenda, visit westfield.in.gov.

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