By Ben Rodgers
HOBART – Drugs, crime, noise and garbage were some of the concerns residents expressed Tuesday, March 19, at the Hobart village board meeting.
These grievances were aired during a public hearing for rezoning a parcel of land along the 3500 block of West Mason Street to allow for the construction of a 37-unit contractor storage condo development.
The project is proposed by the property owner, Chad Roffers Properties.
For the project to proceed, the land would need to be rezoned from agriculture to limited industrial, which is why the public hearing was held.
Plans for the project call for two access points from West Mason and one from Haven Place.
Jon Leroy, project manager with Mau and Associates, said the development would consist of condo storage units that would be owned by people and used as hobby spaces.
“As part of this, any sort of activity that would happen would have to happen inside these units,” Leroy said.
Because an access point would be built on Haven Place, residents packed the board room to standing room only to express their concerns with the proposed business development.
“Hobart and that are primarily residential, and there are retired folks, there are people with families,” said Aaron Triphan, a resident on nearby Belmar Road. “I worry about not only the road, after; I worry about the individuals who would be accessing these units.”
Triphan expressed concerns condo owners would use the space to conduct illegal activities.
“It’s going to sound like fearmongering, but you don’t know what’s going to happen in these,” he said.
Other concerns expressed were about safety.
“’I’m really concerned about the safety aspect,” said Gary Owen, a property owner on Haven Place. “You got big trucks and equipment running across there.”
Board President Rich Heidel informed the public in attendance the board cannot legally consider any accusations without substantive evidence when determining conditional use permits.
“We have to and can only act on hard information as opposed to what at one time was speculation and opinions and so forth,” Heidel said.
In addition to claims of drug dealing, people also expressed concerns over light pollution, well issues, traffic, noise and garbage from the new development.
Owen presented information to the board from a certified land appraiser that showed his land value could go down, but no one else had any hard data to back up their claims.
The public hearing on the rezoning was closed and the topic was postponed.
The conditional use permit public hearing to allow the storage units was not held because it was contingent upon the rezoning being approved.
The board decided that public hearing will be held when it can be determined if the state would grant two access points off West Mason, also known as State Highway 54.
“As existing property owners in the neighborhood, those folks have rights also, so obviously the trick here is if we can strike a balance that satisfies the concerns of both sides, if possible,” Heidel said.
Trustee Debbie Schumacher also asked the developer to consider drawing a plan that would limit the development’s impact on the established residential neighborhood.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said he welcomes the public back to the next public hearing on the conditional use permit, and added it would be an opportunity for them to present hard data on their concerns.