Future multi-family development causes unease

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This rendering shows a front view of the complex’s clubhouse. (Source: City of Westfield)

This rendering shows a front view of the complex’s clubhouse. (Source: City of Westfield)

By Anna Skinner

 

At their Aug. 10 meeting, the Westfield City Council heard a request from Pam Howard, an associate planner in the city’s economic and community development department, to establish an apartment complex on 16 acres on the southwest corner of Spring Mill Road and 161st Street.

In addition, two acres of commercial development would be part of the package.

First introduced to the council in May, followed by a positive recommendation from the city’s advisory plan commission on June 15, the proposed project falls within the Spring Mill Station south west corner PUD, or planned unit development.

The request brought much discussion amongst the council, as many Westfield residents were unhappy with the plan to bring an apartment complex close to Shamrock Springs Elementary School, which sits directly adjacent to the proposed complex, to the west on 161st Street.

“We have received many comments and people are unhappy with this project. It pains me because I want the community to be excited for a project that fits our plan,” said Councilor Cindy Spoljaric said. “This plan was originally approved by our community.”

Original plans for the Spring Mill Station SWC PUD were approved 18 months ago.

Discussion amongst council members showed many residents were nervous about another apartment complex coming to Westfield with fears of crime increase and possible sex offenders living near the elementary school.

To ease those fears, Spoljaric called for a request to establish more fencing around the school’s playground.

President Chuck Lehman claimed he did personal research on the project after he received many complaints from the community.

“There really is no evidence that an apartment complex close to the school adds any burden on crime,” Lehman said, also clarifying that out of the city’s 12 registered sex offenders, none lived in apartments.

After most other members of the council expressed their concern over the community’s displeasure, they unanimously approved for the plan to move forward.

The proposed complex would be home to a clubhouse with 15, three-story apartment buildings that would house 290 units ranging 800 to 1,200 square feet. Units would be priced at around $1.10 per square foot, making units range in price from $880 to $1,320 per month.


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