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Questions come after zoning decision

By Ben Rodgers

HOBART – The Hobart village board answered questions from upset residents regarding zoning at the Tuesday, March 20 meeting.

For 90 minutes a number of residents voiced their displeasure, which stemmed from a storage unit getting approved on the corner of North Overland and Trout Creek roads.

The project previously passed through all of the channels of the village and the discussion came on the heels of an amendment to the comprehensive plan that would designate five parcels for a mixed use of residential, commercial and light industrial.

“You are now putting an industrial option on a piece of property around the corner around from my house,” said Mark Spielbauer, local resident.

Allyn Dannhoff, director of neighborhood services, said the comprehensive plan is just that, a plan that serves as a vision for a path moving forward. It’s a tool used to provide direction to the board and village staff when looking at development.

He also said nothing is being rezoned. The plan was being updated, as is required from time to time.

“You approved an industrial use against the wishes of quite a number of my neighbors,” said Chuck Cucullu, another local resident. “I would like to understand… how further development of this type in our neighborhood doesn’t degrade our property values.”

Dannhoff said he checked with the village’s property assessor and that a decrease in property value is very unlikely.

“In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine living a quarter of a mile or more away from this is going to impact your property values,” he said.

Board president Rich Heidel said the village is in a precarious situation when it comes to land development due to its location.

“Anything, anything, I don’t care if its residential, industrial, commercial, is going to represent change, change in traffic volumes, change in required village services,” Heidel said. “But we do not live in a timeless machine where nothing can change. Otherwise we’re going to stagnate.

“The short history lesson here, and if you live in Hobart you need to know this, we’ve had and we’ve always had a vying competitor for land purchase and development. It’s known as the Oneida tribe. This is what you elect us to do. We have got to look at the bigger picture,” he said.

Heidel said the tribe will buy up parcels that are for sale and under tribal law make them part of the reservation. The tax base that goes along with the land then is forever lost to the village.

Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said such a situation happened last summer.

There was a funeral on a Thursday, the land went for sale on the following Tuesday and the seller lost out on $500,000 because the tribe only gave 24 hours to accept its offer, when a private buyer would have paid more to keep the land in the existing tax base.

“The concern that we have is simply around some of the language around industrial use,” Cucullu said. “That seems to imply a broad range of potential development that isn’t necessarily compatible with the current property uses that are in place.”

This update allows for consistency for possible zoning designations in the future to match that of the storage units, which is considered light industrial, Dannhoff said.

Residents were also upset that they never received any notification about the original change.

Heidel said the village follows state statute and mailed letters to abutting property owners. The village also publishes public notices in The Press.

The Press mentioned in an article that the proposed change was going to be discussed.

Pam Beckman, another local resident, said she throws out the paper every week when it’s delivered.

“At some point the voters have to accept responsibility with what’s goes on in this village,” Heidel said. “If somebody doesn’t read the papers that’s not my problem.”

The board voted 4-0 to make the change to the comprehensive plan. Trustee Tim Carpenter was absent.

In other action, the board approved a weapons ordinance by a 4-0 vote.

“Last fall up until tonight we didn’t have a properly chartered committee,” Heidel said. “If we had restricted somebody’s property, we have a tremendous amount of exposure in terms of legal liability.

“We had to get our own house in order first, which meant we had to get an ordinance on the books, appropriately passed that provides among other things, definitions and a process by which somebody can come in here and say ‘That doesn’t make sense, I want my parcel designated no discharge’ or ‘I want my parcel designated discharge,’” he said.

Attached as an exhibit to the ordinance is the previous weapons discharge map. If somebody wants to opt in or out of that map, it will now be brought before the planning and zoning committee, which will make a decision. If the property owner disagrees, an appeal can be brought before the village board.

“I want to commend the board. Three weeks ago there was quite a few of us in here complaining about how much we could not hunt and in three weeks time you changed it,” said Bob Vandeyacht. “I want to commend all of your for doing that quickly.”

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