Valparaiso city officials, employees settling into temporary home

A sign outside Valparaiso City Hall on Lincolnway says the building is now closed for renovations. Residents are being directed to the city's temporary home at the former Hayes Leonard Elementary School, 653 Hayes Leonard Road.

VALPARAISO — People living close to where 284 single-family homes are planned in Valparaiso want their concerns over matters like stormwater and traffic further addressed before the development is approved.

Natalie Johnson, president of Save the Dunes, sent a letter to the Valparaiso Plan Commission requesting more information on how stormwater from the 153-acre housing development plan would effectively and naturally be treated before entering Beauty Creek.

She said Beauty Creek, which runs through the proposed complex, The Brooks at Vale Park, is in the Salt Creek Watershed management plan and designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the few waterways in the watershed with "outstanding health."

"Any detriment to this waterway has the potential to impact fish communities and other aquatic life," she said.

Her letter was presented to the Plan Commission at the meeting to hear the plan and gather public comment on the developer’s request for a change from Suburban Residential to Planned Unit Development zoning.

Close to 100 people attended at the temporary City Hall at 653 Hayes-Leonard Road.

Resident Gary Brown said he was concerned the development, which is close to his home, would create drainage problems.

His concerns involved the presence of lift stations and their ability to push all waste water up hills on the rolling terrain.

Brown said he would support the project if more information showed the drainage system would function effectively.

"All of these questions should be answered," he said.

The stormwater management involves a process that includes rain gardens and bio swells for cleansing runoff before it enters the creek and other bodies of water.

Jake Wagner, a longtime developer, wants to build 94 traditional subdivision homes on lots no less than 12,000 square feet apiece.

The remainder would be starter or empty nester homes on 6,000 square foot lots along with townhouses and tri-plexes.

Each style home would be grouped together in individual neighborhoods throughout the parcel.

There would be trails, exercise stations and other outdoor amenities.

*Attorney Todd Leeth, representing the developer, said the property did pose some challenges with the design but pointed out everyone working on it has collectively well over 200 years of development experience.

He also cited Wagner’s reputation as a housing builder in other communities.

Bill Herring, president of the adjacent Manchester Property Owners Association, said the development site has a 70 foot difference in elevation from one end to the other.

He’s worried extensive ground work before and during construction of the homes will create flooding for him and the other 15 homeowners.

"I think there needs to be more of an explanation about how the project is actually going to be carried out," Herring said.

Concerns were also expressed about increased traffic, particularly on Vale Park Road.

Tyler Kent, director of the city Planning Department, said Vale Park Road would be extended from Keystone Commons to Beauty Creek subdivision at Windsor Park.

The Plan Commission is expected to vote on the plans at its next meeting at 7 p.m. March 12.

A favorable recommendation would go to the Valparaiso City Council for final consideration.

*This story has been corrected from an earlier version.

*Attorney Todd Leeth, representing the developer, said the property did pose some challenges with the design but pointed out everyone working on it has collectively well over 200 years of development experience.he firms working on the project