Despite resistance from residents of the Jonathan Oaks subdivision, Fort Wayne City Council approved rezoning April 13 that will allow a townhouse development to be built on property adjacent to the neighborhood.

The 1.8-acre property at 6641 St. Joe Center Road was rezoned from single-family residential to multiple family residential.

Because of strong opposition from neighbors, the property owner, Christopher Cammack, made several changes to the plan in an effort to appease neighbors.

The original plan called for 12 units. That number was reduced down to 10. The perimeter setback was increased adjacent to the neighborhood. And the developer met with Fort Wayne Community Schools, which has an elementary school next to the project. The developer agreed to add fencing and landscaping to meet the ordinance and address comments from the school.

But it still wasn’t enough to change the opinions of the residents. Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, whose district includes the property, said recently he met with 50 people about the issue, and they were unanimously opposed. Their concerns were proximity and density, he said. The parking lot “is in the neighbors’ back yard. I do see this would be a large imposition to the neighbors.”

He voted against the rezoning, per his constituents’ wishes.

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, D-at large, said she was concerned this was an issue of NIMBY — “Not in My Back Yard.” She noted the developer made changes to the project to appease the neighbors and added the city needs infill projects such as these. “I did listen to our constituents,” but added as a growing city Fort Wayne needs good transitional housing.

Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, was in a tough spot. He had to vote on the project twice, once as a member of the Plan Commission, and then as a City Council member.

He acknowledged a number of constituents were against it. However, he walked the land from the pond to the east and didn’t see potential problems, especially since it met city requirements, such as stormwater management.

Further, Freistroffer is a certified appraiser and doesn’t see neighboring property values going down because of the townhomes.

Attorney Tom Niezer, representing the developer, said the townhomes will be rented out at market rate, $1,500 a month. The homes will have three bedrooms and 2½ baths. He also noted a 6-foot privacy fence will be placed along the west, north and east sides of the property, and trees will provide a buffer on the north and east sides.

Niezer predicted if the property wasn’t rezoned for multi-family residential eventually it will probably be rezoned commercial, which ultimately will result in more traffic, he said.

The developer also signed a written commitment prohibiting the following uses: no fraternity or sorority house; no off-site campus housing; no group residential facility; and no two-family dwelling.

The developer also committed to the buildings being no taller than 35 feet.

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