VALPARAISO —The city Board of Zoning Appeals has approved plans for a 159-lot subdivision on the city’s extreme northwest side after some haggling to appease neighbors in Brigata Hills, the subdivision immediately east of the proposed Iron Gate subdivision.
The new subdivision would be at the southeast corner of County Roads 500 North and 250 West. “This 79 acres is the farthest northwest parcel in the city,” attorney Todd Leeth said. Leeth represents Lennar Homes of Indiana, which is developing the subdivision.
Lennar plans to set aside 20 wooded acres on the subdivision’s east side for open space with walking trails.
Brigata Hills residents had two primary objections to the Iron Gate proposal. The first was concern about the $460,000 homes in Iron Gates being a drag on the property values in Brigata Hills, where the custom homes range from $750,000 to $1.3 million.
Leeth countered that by saying the primary way property values can drop based on neighboring properties is when the neighbors don’t maintain their properties well. He noted the buffer space, including the 20-acre woods, between the two subdivisions.
The Board of Zoning Appeals negotiated with Lennar Land Planning and Entitlement Manager Todd Kleven and Leeth to have larger, 90-foot-wide lots where the two subdivisions connect.
The other primary concern was traffic safety. Brigata Hills has a stub street for connection to a future development to the west. Iron Gate’s concept calls for connecting to that stub street.
Several Brigata Hills residents feared traffic from Iron Gate would go through their subdivision and interfere with the lifestyle there, with many people walking in the streets. The subdivision has sidewalks, but because some of the lots remain undeveloped, the sidewalks don’t all connect.
“I think what’s scaring most of us is connecting the two subdivisions," said Lisa Aldred, owner of Aldred Homes. “It’s going to be a speedway."
Leeth said the connection is following city standards. “Your ordinance requires us to connect when Brigata’s developer put in a stub street,” he told the board.
Kleven said he’s willing to bypass that connection in favor of one to the south if the city requires it.
Lennar’s variances deal solely with the lot widths and percentages of each under the strict cluster development standard the city allows. The cluster standard is so rigid that this subdivision could be the first to use it, Leeth said. He didn’t even realize the standard existed until Planning Director Beth Shrader suggested using it for this subdivision, he said.
Several other developers have considered it but shied away from the rigid restrictions, Shrader said.
Iron Gate subdivision has many city hurdles remaining, including Plan Commission approval.