Council approves Wheeler rezone project, 5-1

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After much discussion regarding an unsigned development agreement between the City of Westfield and the developers of the Wheeler Planned Unit Development District, the Westfield City Council approved the development, 5-1. The Wheeler PUD District will include four different commercial and mixed-use areas, including a proposed YMCA.

The approval was passed at the Sept. 24 council meeting with contingency that the development agreement be signed by both parties – the City of Westfield and the project developer. The development agreement was discussed at a previous council meeting, and it states the project will include an expansion to both Oak Ridge Road and Tournament Trail to accommodate for the expected increase in traffic. If signed, the expansions would be built at no cost to the city.

“I have a bit of a concern on a project this expansive,” council member Chuck Lehman said. “It’s probably one of the biggest that’s come along and I don’t think a PUD of this magnitude should have a contingency next to it.”

Lehman said he wouldn’t approve the project unless the development agreement had been signed.

Council members discussed tabling the proposal until the next council meeting, but since the Advisory Plan Commission forwarded the project with a favorable recommendation at its meeting on July 2, the council only had 90 days to act on the project or it would move forward regardless. Since the APC forwarded the recommendation onto council without the contingency of the development agreement detailing the expansion of the two roads, the council either had to act or hold a special meeting before the time limit was up in order to include the development agreement with the proposal.

During council discussion, Westfield City Council President Jim Ake said the developers would complete a requirement very important to everyone involved.

“I would like to remind everyone when we started on this path, one of the conditions council looked at and was wanting to require is that Oak Ridge Road be extended to handle additional traffic, and Tournament Trail would be extended at no cost to the city,” he said. “Once the development agreement is signed, they have filled a requirement that is very important to all of us in that regard. From this standpoint, I think everyone’s worked really hard together to get to that part. So, with the contingency, I’m very comfortable moving forward.”

Council member Mark Keen voted in favor of the project, but he said in the future, he wished developments would come before council with enough time for the council to digest what the APC recommends.

“It would be nice in future developments, when future actions come before us, if the 90-day clock isn’t ticking to the point (it is now),” Keen said. “So, if something unforeseen comes up, we have time to process that and it go back before us.”

Out of the six council members present, Joe Edwards was the only to vote no. Despite his worries over the contingency of the development agreement, Lehman voted in favor of the development.

For more, visit westfield.in.gov.


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