By Anna Skinner
After months of council, plan commission and public input, the Westfield City Council approved the Aurora Planned Unit Development replacement ordinance Jan. 9 with a 5-2 vote. Councilors Joe Edwards and Cindy Spoljaric voted against the project.
The more than 300-acre project was a replacement to the original 2006 ordinance, and it experienced multiple changes since council introduction last September. Changes include capping the maximum number of residential units at 250, dividing the commerce park into three separate districts, limiting the business park to allow only hotel, office or retail services, the requirement for the business park and shop areas to follow the State Road 32 Overlay architectural requirements and others.
Spoljaric was an advisory plan commission member in 2006 when the Aurora PUD was originally proposed, and then, she voted against a favorable recommendation to the council. She voted ‘No’ again at the council’s meeting Jan. 9.
“When this came through again, I was excited thinking there were new opportunities to make this a whole lot better, to meet new standards,” she said. “An attempt was made, a decent attempt, and there are things in this PUD I agree with, but there are also some things I disagree with. One of them was the reduction and size of the business park area. To me, that was a critical area to see diminished.”
Another concern from Spoljaric was the permitted uses in the development, as she thought they were too broad.
“While I understand the petitioner wants to increase flexibility and help the project from a marketing standpoint, it doesn’t give me a whole lot of good feeling in the terms of safety for our residents,” she said.
Joe Edwards also voted against the proposal, claiming the council didn’t do its job in listening to the residents and that the developer didn’t do a good job in compromising with neighbors.
“I think our greatest duty in these things is to protect the people who are already there. I think we failed to do that and failed to listen hard,” he said. “When the residents requested to meet with the petitioner to see if a compromise could be made, the petitioner failed to meet with them. I think that’s not very good behavior. I think we really need to learn how to compromise. I don’t think this is a very good way to plan.”
Remaining councilors Robert Horkay, Chuck Lehman, Jim Ake, Dr. Mark Keen and Steve Hoover all expressed support for the project.
“I do believe this is a tremendous improvement,” Keen said. “I do think to dispute Joe a little bit, I think we have two responsibilities here. We have a responsibility to the homeowners in the area, and we also have a responsibility to the taxpayers in the entire community. This development would add a tremendous sense of value, and it would help with any referendum we have by lowering the tax rate on all taxpayers in Westfield.”
For more, visit westfield.in.gov.