VALPARAISO — Proposed housing development Brooks at Vale Park takes another step forward after the city council approves rezoning the site of the proposed residential project.
Council members present voted unanimously for rezoning the 200 acres of former farmland south of Ransom Road and northwest of Valparaiso High School as a planned unit development instead of the usual suburban residential classification. Councilwoman Lenore Hoffman, R-4, was not present.
The PUD designation would allow more flexibility in the type of homes to be built there. Currently, 287 new homes are planned, including small and large single-family homes, townhomes and triplexes.
After the rezoning approval, the developers will need to take additional steps.
According to Economic Development Director and attorney Patrick Lyp, the developers must go through and tweak their plans, as well as sign agreements with the city's utility board. Additional considerations also will be made by the city's planning commission.
"Basically what council just approved essentially set the rules for the Brooks' development," he said. "Now that they know the playing field, they can move forward on the specifics of engineering and building and bring those forward for final approval."
The public-private development is planned to cost $9.7 million, with the city providing $6.8 million toward stormwater infrastructure through a bond sale and some assistance from the city's Redevelopment Commission.
Proponents in the city government said the project will offer numerous benefits, including improved stormwater drainage along Beauty Creek and an extension of Vale Park Road, which is currently cut off by the undeveloped land.
"(Connecting Vale Park Road) is one project I've wanted to get done before the end of my tenure here," said Mayor Jon Costas. "I thank my team for working out all the important details here."
The stormwater issue is one of the main focuses of the city. Heavy run-off has caused erosion damage to Beauty Creek, which has prompted the city to look into building detention ponds and move rainwater into wetlands. If the city were to develop the area alone just for the stormwater, it would have cost taxpayers more than $13.4 million.
Discussions on the development have been going on since February, with some residents concerned about environmental impacts and increased traffic with the extension of Vale Park Road. Engineer Adam McAlpine said the planned extension currently has special "crescents" that will help regulate and slow traffic.
Councilmembers Matt Murphy, R-3 and Diana Reed, D-1, echoed some of the traffic concerns and urged the city to consider further preventative measures to speeding.