By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – A request to rezone six parcels along Centennial Centre Boulevard and Fonda Fields Court from R-1 residential to B-1 business is headed back to the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Hobart village board Tuesday, May 5, conducted a public hearing on the request from Jennifer DeCaster, who informed the board of her desire to use a structure on the site for office space.
The 2.731-acre parcel with the structure is valued at $1.646 million, according to Brown County property records, but is listed for sale at $6.95 million.
DeCaster, who was not at the commission’s meeting April 29 when it unanimously denied the rezoning, said she had not been made aware of that meeting and would have attended had she known.
Todd Gerbers, director of planning and code compliance, said the date of the commission’s meeting hadn’t been communicated to the rezoning applicants.
“It was an oversight,” Gerbers said.
The Planning and Zoning commission denied the request, he said, because it didn’t follow the village’s comprehensive plan and because of concerns about the impact rezoning could have on the residential neighborhood.
Gerbers said the rezoning proposal also includes a request to loop a driveway around a pond in the property to connect with Centennial Centre Boulevard to minimize traffic in the residential area.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said he received four written objections to the rezoning.
“I did receive numerous phone calls,” he said. “We had to look into the fact that a number of residents had claimed they didn’t get the notification for this public hearing until just late last week. We did verify it was mailed. But as we all know with what happened with absentee ballots, the post offices seem to not be getting things moving. In some cases, we determined it took more than a week to get the public hearing notices to the individuals.”
Because of the delay in the mailings being received, Kramer said additional time should be given beyond the number of days state law calls for to provide advance notification and “add in the postal factor.”
DeCaster said she believes the Planning and Zoning Commission’s vote could have been different had she been present at the meeting.
“I think it’s really important that you look specifically at the new driveway, because what we would be doing is completely vacating any access on Golden Pond,” she said. “So, there would be absolutely no noise and no traffic issues.”
DeCaster said it was the intent of the rezoning to vacate Fonda Fields Court to prevent disrupting the neighborhood and move access to the property on Centennial Centre Boulevard.
Property not selling
With the structure on one of the six parcels, DeCaster said she has been unable to sell the property as a home.
“We came in with the idea that this house was so beautiful, and it needed to have a family,” she said. “It couldn’t sit empty anymore, which is why we bought it with the intent to sell it, finish it and bring life to that beautiful property. Unfortunately, we have not been successful.”
Though one party expressed interest in making the structure a school, DeCaster said she is now looking at making it an office building for herself and others.
With development occurring in Hobart, DeCaster said she believes there would be enough interest to fill that office space.
Chicken and the egg
The board discussed the timing of getting approval for what DeCaster proposed, particularly vacating Fonda Fields Court and access to the property off of Centennial Centre Boulevard.
Kramer said it would be up to the board to decide whether to vacate the road upon DeCaster petitioning for that to happen.
“That’s where we sort of get into the chicken and the egg of this rezoning,” he said. “You can’t make a rezoning contingent on something that you’ve never taken action or even been presented with a proposal to vacate Fonda Fields (Court).”
Gerbers said the board could decide to vacate a road contingent upon rezoning a property.
However, he said a parcel can’t legally be landlocked without access to a road, which would happen to three of the six parcels with Fonda Fields Court vacated.
Gerbers said one solution could be combining all six parcels into one, if there would be access to the land from Centennial Centre Boulevard.
He said a certified survey map (CSM), possibly a combination CSM, could be used to combine parcels.
Kramer said the village would need to grant a permit to allow access to the property with a driveway off of Centennial Centre Boulevard.
He said referring the rezoning request back to the Planning and Zoning Commission wouldn’t require another public hearing, and the board could suspend the rules to allow public comment on the matter.