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November 16, 2012

Senior housing possible for Logansport

Two more affirmative votes on planning commission needed to move discussion to City Council

Mayor Ted Franklin said senior housing discussed by the Logansport planning commission earlier this week would affect city-wide Logansport, not just downtown.

Franklin said there are a number of potential developers.

“We have to make sure our planning standards are ready for developments,” Franklin said. “I support any kind of development or housing that would take place and bring tax revenue.”

A proposed ordinance change, discussed at a planning commission meeting Tuesday, would allow senior housing decisions, such as use, to go before the Logansport planning and zoning departments. Some items, parking and buffering, would still be discussed before the board of zoning appeals. Most recently, senior housing in downtown Logansport went before the board of zoning appeals, where the request was denied. Arin Shaver, director of Logansport-Cass County planning department, said she thinks problems with the senior housing being placed in downtown stem from the 44-unit property proposed in September by the Leo Brown Group.

Now, the Logansport planning department needs two more yes votes from the planning commission to support senior housing in Logansport and move the discussion to the Logansport City Council.  

At Tuesday’s meeting, the planning department thought the proposed ordinance change of senior housing was passed with a vote of 3-2 from planning commission members. But, later Wednesday, they found they needed a majority vote from its nine-member board.

Shaver said senior housing will have to go back to the planning commission and, if they receive five out of nine votes, it will move forward. If the planning commission approves it, it will then be up to the City Council, who would vote to approve or deny an ordinance change allowing use of senior housing within certain zoning areas to be decided by the planning and zoning departments.

A special meeting for the planning commission will be at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 20 in the City Council Chambers of the City Building, 600 E. Broadway.

Jeremy Ashcraft, city councilman, asked Shaver if the application for senior housing would have to go through the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals.

“What we were bringing forward is the use of senior housing itself,” Shaver said. “We would have to go before the BZA for some standards, like parking and buffering, and use would be determined through the zoning and planning department.

“There has been obvious controversy for senior housing. We need to look at it being appropriate for Logansport, not for a specific location.”

The controversy Shaver was referring to was the proposed four-story, 44-unit senior housing complex planned for the city’s downtown. The senior citizen complex would have been built on the Farmers Market lot and Salvation Army property on Fourth Street.

Seger Matthew, planning commission member, voted against moving discussion to council because the public outcry against the previous case of senior housing.  

“I think it’s opening a floodgate,” Matthew said of complaints.  

One of the previous issues with the senior housing was concerns of parking and Shaver said their research shows there would most likely be one vehicle per unit.

Mercedes Brugh, chairwoman of Little Turtle Waterway Corporation, was the only person who came forward to speak at the planning commission meeting. Brugh stated she liked the idea of a commercial first floor.

“We all want downtown housing but it should be commercial on the first floor,” Brugh said. “I think having a commercial first floor is what we need for a vibrant downtown.”

Shaver said for the downtown area, the first floor is supposed to be commercial, but from the second story up, there would be apartments.

Further discussion of senior housing will take place Tuesday, where the planning department will seek a majority vote for approval of an ordinance change. If approved, law requires the council to have two readings.

“It could activate downtown and this revitalization matches the comprehensive plan for Logansport,” Shaver said.

Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or amie.sites@pharostribune.com.

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