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March 13, 2013

Changes proposed to Logansport housing regulations

The Logansport Plan Commission is recommending City Council adopt an amendment to the recently approved ordinance regarding senior housing downtown that would allow for residential units to be on the second floor and above.

City Council recently approved a resolution allowing for senior housing residential use downtown, the language of which suggested residential units on the ground floor would be possible. In order to preserve the commercial image of downtown, Logansport-Cass County Planning Director Arin Shaver said the planning department and now the plan commission are addressing council members’ concerns by recommending that the city allow residential units in downtown buildings on the second floor and above only.

“It was a concern of the council,” Shaver said. “They wanted to basically make sure we have more of the feel of downtown, which is more your commercial uses.”

Seger Mathew, a member of the Logansport Plan Commission, had concerns regarding the safety of potential future residents of senior housing downtown, if and when it gets developed.

“If there’s a fire, how are you going to get someone in a walker or wheelchair out of that complex in time?” Seger said. “I feel like putting that step in creates a big hurdle to overcome.”

Mathew also said the restriction may cause developers to not want to develop downtown, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to build any residential units on the ground floors of buildings.

Shaver said she would consult with the Logansport Fire Department regarding Mathew’s concerns about evacuating senior citizens.

Logansport Fire Chief Mark Strong said while it would be easier to evacuate senior citizens on the ground floors of buildings, the department should be able to get everyone out safely in the case of a fire.

“Of course it would be easier, but I don’t think it’s going to cause any problems,” Strong said. “I don’t really see any problems with whatever they do.”

Kenny Ott, the city’s fire inspector, said an evacuation plan will have to be established for whatever gets developed.

“They’ll have to have evacuation plans and get them posted,” Ott said. A lot of it depends on the design of a building, it’s hard to know until they do that. When the time comes, there will be something figured out. There are a lot of variables to consider.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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