Pharos-Tribune

November 18, 2012

Logansport senior housing ordinance sparks opposition

Amended ordinance would permit senior housing in downtown business district

by Sarah Einselen
Pharos-Tribune

— A proposed amendment to Logansport’s zoning ordinance has some local business owners concerned that the downtown could lose its community festival space without business owners and residents having a say in the process.

The amendment proposes adding senior housing for people age 55 and older in two business zones and in high-density residential zones, as long as the housing includes at least one parking space per housing unit in addition to two spaces for staff parking for every 100 units.

That amount of parking is typical for senior housing, said Arin Shaver, director of the Logansport-Cass County planning department. But under current zoning rules, most proposed apartment complexes must have at least 1.5 off-street parking spaces per apartment.

The change would allow senior housing in the downtown business district, an area that currently allows only “commercial apartments” — which would be apartments located above commercial spaces. Other types of housing would require a special exception, which would require an appearance before the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals.

Among critics of the proposed change are Mercedes Brugh, chairwoman of Little Turtle Waterway Corp. Brugh had voiced her opposition to a proposed senior housing complex at Fourth and Market streets, a project that was rejected by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Brugh said she was concerned the proposed amendment could allow a similar complex to go forward without citizen input.

“It’s not that we have a problem with senior housing,” Brugh said Friday. “It’s the location.”

The farmers market lot at Fourth and Market streets is often used during community festivals, she said, and Little Turtle Waterway and other downtown areas aren’t big enough to handle those events.

Tom Partridge of Pear Tree Gallery had also opposed the proposed complex.

“That corner is very important, I believe, to the quality of life concerning festivals and the farmers market,” Partridge said.

Partridge stressed that he was not opposed to senior housing, “especially if there is retail space or commercial space on the bottom floor.”

He is opposed, he said, primarily to the specific location.

The amended ordinance would not require senior housing complexes to have retail space on the first floor. Though some business owners suggested the change might detract from the current business district, Shaver said she did not anticipate first-floor senior housing being detrimental to the downtown area.

“I think senior housing will actually activate our downtown in that there will be more walkability,” she said, “so that developers will actually look to develop downtown.”

The planning commission considered the measure at a meeting last week, but it fell short of the five votes needed for approval. The commission will meet again in special session at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in council chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 600 E. Broadway.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

WANT TO GO?

What: Logansport Planning Commission meeting

When: 7:30 a.m. Tuesday

Where: City council chambers of the Logansport City Building, 600 E. Broadway

Why: Planning commission will discuss amending the zoning ordinance to allow senior housing in some business zones and in high-density residential zones.