LAPEL, IN - The Lapel Planning Committee hosted a meeting at the Lapel Lions Club so that approximately 50 people could hear and comment on plans for a south-east side apartment development.
Adam D`Angelo presented his latest plans which had been re-designed from earlier plans shared at a meeting a few months prior.
The new plans reduce the development from 68 apartments to closer to 60, with one complete apartment unit being removed in favor of a very large dry retention pond to hold rain run-off.
At the previous meeting, several concerned residents had expressed their views on the project including the problem with draining on the east side of Lapel. Many were concerned that this development would make things worse. D'Angelo was listening and turned his plans for underground water retention into an above ground pond to hold the excessive rain water and release it into the Town's storm system at a controlled rate.
For the most part while folks do still have concerns with the flooding issue most of the comments made at this new meeting were in regards to the density of the development, the traffic problems it may bring and the "type" of person it would bring to Lapel.
This development would not be government assisted living, some of the larger 3 bedroom apartments may rent for over $1,000 a month.
D'Angelo expressed his long-term commitments to the Town of Lapel and his desire to bring new jobs, and people to Town that will improve the local economy and bring revenue to the Town coffers.
He commented on how popular Lapel is and how his Meadowview addition has already rented 5 of the 10 new units being built and they are not even finished yet.
Crediting the appeal of Lapel on the warm and inviting nature of its residents and the wonderful school system.
Joy Skidmore informed the attendees that they will be seeking 4 variances for the project.
A variance for lot coverage, a variance for open spaces, a variance for parking spaces and a variance concerning access points.
This does seem like a lot of variances although it is worth noting that with the parking space issue they stated they fell two short of the required amount but might have additional parking available in areas currently considered green space.
D'Angelo noted that they could not fit two access points into that property as required by ordinances because the property is so narrow and it might cause safety issues. So, they opted for one main entrance and then an emergency egress leading onto an alley behind Central Avenue.
For the first time since the apartments were brought up D'Angelo did mention a possible Tax Abatement in the future. A remark that would likely come back to bite him later in the meeting.
The floor was turned over to residents who had signed up on a signup sheet to speak, and each resident was granted 3 minutes to talk.
One resident asked how many people they expected to occupy the development and D'Angelo said he expected between 180 and 220 people across the 60 apartments.
The resident commented that this development would set the tone for future developments in Lapel and that the Planning board needs to seriously think about what variances they allow because other developers will then be able to get the same variances.
Barb White who lives on SR 13 was concerned about flooding. Although she did note that this was the first year in about 12 years that her back yard had not flooded.
She was seriously concerned about traffic in that area as it is already bad at peak times.
She hoped they would "do everything they can to address flooding".
Tim Munro who lives on Central Avenue had several questions and concerns including the amount of light pollution the apartments may generate and the traffic.
Munro was also concerned that the emergency exit may get used by residents in the area and he did not want people driving up and down behind his house.
Munro noted that there are very few three story buildings in Lapel and that this development would bring a lot.
He was concerned that water pressure in the area may be reduced but D'Angelo noted he had spoken with the Town utility department and they had stated it will be fine.
Another resident stated he believes Lapel deserves better homes that support the town. He was concerned no zoning sign was put up (a concern later addressed by Gary Shuck who stated it would be put up after a date was set for the zoning hearing).
Bobby Fields the Superintendent for the Frankton-Lapel Schools system had concerns relating to the "kind of students" this development would bring to Town.
Citing a study that said "students in homes perform better than transient students from apartments".
He believes that the development will also bring assessed tax values for property down, which in turn will reduce the funds for the schools and people will not want to live here because the school system will not be doing as well.
A few people cited the idea of the tax abatement as being bad.
D'Angelo noted that right now with Meadowview apartments they ask for proof from renters with children that their kids have been accepted into the school system before they allow them to rent. He said that arrangement could extend to Pleasantview.
He was hoping a feasibility and traffic study would address some of the concerns raised.
He added that he "appreciates the questions and will take it to heart".
Members of the Madison County Council of Governments noted that what gets approved will become a model for other projects. They stated that the "design is stale".
The Planning committee was then challenged to encourage D'Angelo to make the apartment development look better and have a master plan and vision for the Town.
Gary Shuck from the Planning committee then addressed D'Angelo and the residents. He wanted the Engineers for the Town to look at plans.
Shuck explained that some of the deadlines that D'Angelo had laid out for moving forward were not achievable as there were required "dates" the Town had to stick to such as a 30-day waiting period for a public hearing.
Shuck also added that he thought the ground needs to be rezoned first. He also stated that there was plenty of ground around Lapel that was available for sale with some 10 - 12 acre lots that would be a good size for a development like this. He thought what D'Angelo was trying to do on the 4-acre lot here was too much for the size of the lot.
Shuck also stated Lapel is growing and this will set the tone for years to come.
The Planning committee took the comments under advisement and the meeting ended.