We are sending this to let you know about the upcoming Plan Commission public hearing and
business meeting for the last phase of the ongoing Allen County – Fort Wayne Zoning
Ordinance Update project. As you know, the primary objective of this project is to update
and align the Fort Wayne and Allen County zoning ordinances. This project is part of
ongoing work to improve, clarify, simplify, and streamline the development and permitting
The Adoption draft Allen County and Fort Wayne zoning ordinance documents have been
completed by Clarion Associates and the Department of Planning Services staff.
This final phase of the project includes revised updated and aligned zoning ordinance language for:
1. General Provisions
2. Zoning district permitted uses, development standards, and special uses
3. Development Processes and Standards
· Development Plans
· Site Plan Review
· Subdivision Control
4. Additional General Standards, including:
· Development Design standards
· Landscape standards
· Parking standards
· Sign standards
· Airport Overlay districts standards
· Floodplain management standards
· Accessory and Temporary Structures and Uses
The Allen County and Fort Wayne Plan Commissions will hold a joint public hearing on
Wednesday, October 16th at 6:00 p.m. in Room 045 on the Garden (Basement) Level of the
Citizens Square building (the Omni Room). Citizens Square is located at 200 E. Berry Street.
The Adoption draft documents are located at the DPS website at: http://www.allencounty.us/dps
The Plan Commissions have established the following procedures for this public hearing.
1) The hearing will begin with a presentation on the zoning ordinances.
2) Comments from the audience will follow. The Plan Commissions are asking speakers to
register in advance of the public hearing. You may register to speak by calling Cathy at
260-449-7607 or you may register in person starting one hour before the hearing outside of
Room 045. Speakers will be limited to three (3) minutes.
3) If you are unable to attend the hearing but want to be heard, please send 20 copies
of your written comments to the Department of Planning Services office (Suite 150 Citizens
Square) before noon on Monday, October 14, 2013; or you may bring your written comments
and submit them at the hearing. Please include your name and mailing address on all correspondence.
4) The Plan Commissions will meet in a business meeting on Wednesday, October 30th at
6 p.m. in Room 045 of Citizens Square to consider the ordinance proposals and vote on the
recommendations they will send on for final action.
Please plan on attending this meeting and giving any input you have on this final phase of
the zoning ordinance update project. Please forward this email to other members and
representatives of your organization who you feel would be interested in attending this
Deptartment of Planning Services
I attended two of the several scheduled meetings held over two days in which changes were
discussed. My shareholder interest was in the discussion on agricultural and residential,
and I also attended the public meeting. Representatives from Clarion Associates were in
charge of the presentations. Their goal with these changes is to improve, streamline,
simplify and clarify the steps for residents and business leaders to follow when
submitting an application to the board. An alignment of city and county laws will be
accomplished. The rules would be the same no matter where the location. It was stated
that they reviewed and took into account the proposals outlined in “Plan-It-Allen”.
This is how their term “streamline” is defined. When an applicant, for example, wants
to build in an area, if the site is already zoned for a building purpose, it would not
be necessary to hold a public hearing because the planning commission would have to
legally permit it because it is already zoned for that purpose. This is where the public
would not have a say. This is the situation that has frustrated the public, that when
they voice objections to a project and the request is granted, it feels like their voices
have not been heard. In the past, it has not been communicated to the public that the
request will be granted as long as regulations have been meet. When it is not necessary
to schedule a public hearing and permits are reviewed internally, the process to grant a
permit results in a few weeks instead of months. The trade off would be stricter rules and
requirements for the proposed project.
Shelby Sommer of Clarion said the positive results would be: required green space, set
backs, screening, landscaping and lighting. Legislative streamlining would identify
zoning ordinance barriers, avoid duplication of ordinances, and support planning services
by implementing the stricter rules and regulations. Two levels of granting permits will
exist, primary and secondary. Secondary will deal with the most complex situations.
These will be entered in charts and tables and be checked off as the requirements are
satisfied. Complete applications would be required the first time- no exceptions.
Timelines would be set for the county surveyor. The extremely important issue then
is that the public needs to be involved and have a time to state its acceptance or
rejection of a proposed change of zoning or asking for an exception to the rules.
This change in zoning and /or rules would require a public hearing. Everyone is affected
by “land-use plans” and “nonconforming uses”. Therefore persons should have a voice in
reviewing and commenting on proposals.
The timeline: Clarion and Patrick Fahey (PatrickFahey@allencounty.us) or by phone at
449-7607 will take public comments through April. All input will be revised in May.
It will be integrated into draft, phase 2 and 3 in June. Adaptation process will occur
in late June and early July. The Plan Commission will make recommendations and those go
to City/County Council and then to the Commissioners. Clarion Associates suggests that
all changes and acceptance of those changes definitely be done by the end of the year so
any permit applications in the new year can be processed using the new rules and
requirements. Existing businesses or residences could be required to make adjustments to
their property under the new standards, such as not being able to add on to the building
because of a required set-back or having to establish a buffer zone, screening,
landscaping or lighting. Comments can also be mailed to Patrick Fahey of the Department
of Planning Services at 200 East Berry Street, Suite 150, Citizens Square, Fort Wayne,
Website to definitely visit: http://www.allencounty.us/land-use/dps
. This is a 277 page report
and is broken down into 8 sections. It is an outline of this zoning process and gives
valuable information. I would suggest reviewing it and submitting your comments
pertaining to the areas of your interest and concern. I am planning to say there must
be a provision for the public to give views on zoning changes or rule exceptions by means
of public hearings. I’m still working on comments on my views of allowing new construction
without a proper infrastructure. Rules can be reviewed in Allen county A-1 and A-3
Permitted Uses, Allen County Subdivision Control (Development Processes). This is your
opportunity to make your voice heard. When this process is closed for input, it will be
My final thought. If more authority is being delegated to the staff of the Department
of Planning Services for granting permits without public input, my question is “how is
the staff appointed and by whom, and what are their qualifications to hold said position”?
They will be required to review the revised zoning ordinances and adhere to all rules
regulating the permits. We as the general public will still need to hold them accountable
for their decisions.
President of Friends of Cedar Creek
September 18 2009
New plat ordinance for special interests, not citizens
Alan Diefenbach - Friends of Cedar Creek - Huntertown
Published in Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The new Minor Plat ordinance is here and ready for a hearing Oct. 15.
However, it is a shame to bring to this public hearing a rewrite of the
county ordinance without having included any of the groups or individuals
who brought this vague ordinance to the attention of the public.
Eight of the "Study Group" out of 11 are realtors or builders aligned with
the development community and their particular interests. It smacks of
special treatment and continues poor experiences with the Allen County Plan
Commission. No environmental groups were invited. No one from the Cedar Creek
area and the most alarmed citizens were invited (though the commissioners
assured that they would be in their Aug. 22, 2008, meeting).
Not a single word in the ordinance addresses the County Master Plan.
It negates the Plan-it Allen master plan, co-chaired over a three-year
period by Charles Bodenhafer and Marla Irving. None of the environmental
groups who participated in the work groups for that document was invited
This Minor Plat Ordinance is a rebirth of the old Planned Unit Development,
or PUD, discredited in years past. It does not benefit the community at
large and only allows exceptional latitude in development in all areas of
the county. The cost to your community? A changing face of the rural areas,
farms and wooded areas that have made Allen County the place it is.
The input of county residents so well spoken to in the Plan-it Allen
document is eviscerated by this new ordinance. Go ahead and read it ask
yourself, "Can you possibly understand the new ordinance? What benefit is
it to you? Does it grant new park areas and green areas? Is the wording so
complex as to make one wonder whether the county is coming to take some of
your rights away?"
There is no future in patronizing a few for the benefit of a few.
This new ordinance is strictly a land development tool with extremely
low restraint on land developers. Ask yourself it is so onerous to put
some restraints on land developing: do property owners have responsibilities
on their property? Do residents have responsibilities for the way they
drive, the way they play? Sure they do. Property rights have restraints and
It is time to recognize just whose property we really are talking about and
what the assets of a community are when it comes to land development.
Once we develop a concrete paradise it will be outside ou lifetime and our
children's if it ever returns to a natural area.
So do this: Make a decision that this is the time to tell your local
government, county commissioners and the County Council representatives,
that you want to see fair government that really is working for the benefit
of everyone, discussions in the open, with balanced representation in
working committees. You'll be glad you did.
The public hearing regarding the changes to the Minor Plat Ordinance
will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 15 in Room 126 of the City-County Building.
September 20, 2009
Critics want county plat law repealed,
say revisions harmful.
Amanda Iacone - The Journal Gazette
Proposed changes to an Allen County law that was meant to reel in farmland
development would instead encourage urban sprawl, critics claim.
The law, known as Allen County’s minor plat ordinance, governs how farmland
can be divided into smaller pieces – either for city dwellers who want to
build a dream home in the country or for farmers who are retiring or short
on cash and need to sell their land. A plat is a legal record of the land
County planning officials sought the minor plat ordinance after completing
a new comprehensive plan in 2007. The plan is a blueprint for development
that spells out where houses or factories should be built and protects
farmland and natural areas.
While drafting the blueprint, planners learned that carving up and selling
agricultural property led to the development of about 17,000 acres in Allen
County during the past decade.
That land was divided and developed under an old rule that allowed two lots
to be sold from one largertract with no oversight from county planning staff.
That led to sales of land not suitable for building. Homes that were built
are scattered across the landscape, making it tough, critics contend, for
paramedics and police to find residents in need.
The new ordinance allows six lots – one house per lot – that are each
smaller than 20 acres to be split from the larger, original property every
18 months in agricultural zoning districts.
Creating these miniature housing additions requires plan commission approval.
The seller must provide streets, utility easements and street lighting and
control stormwater runoff as part of the process.
Since the ordinance took effect in 2008, a handful of minor plats have been
approved. The controversial Canyon Cliffs estate-style development in
northern Allen County involved five of these minisubdivisions being
developed at once as a single neighborhood, with 28 homes stretched over
Several environmental groups and neighbors fought the development.
They objected to the size and the use of public utilities plus questioned
why the developer could file five minor plats for one development.
The project sparked lawsuits, and the Canyon Cliffs’ developers submitted
different versions of the neighborhood to the plan commission. They opted
to develop the area one house at a time, which will take several years
under county law.
Because of opponents’ concerns, the plan commission reconvened the group
that originally crafted the ordinance to suggest a fix. The group released
its findings this summer, and the plan commission is expected to have
public hearings on the revisions this fall.
But the study group’s suggested changes haven’t allayed concerns of Realtors,
farmers and some residents. Some believe the revisions do not match the
stated intent behind the ordinance and would rather see the law repealed,
For critics, the most important proposed change would pave the way for more
Canyon Cliffs-type projects – those involving several miniature subdivisions
developed as one neighborhood – to sprout throughout the county.
The revisions would allow for more than two minor plats to be developed in
the same area. A third plat to be filed with planning staff would receive
additional scrutiny, Surveyor Al Frisinger said, and developers would have
to meet a higher bar for things like drainage.
That scrutiny doesn’t mean the project would be denied. It would just take
additional work, likely by an engineer, to meet the county’s requirements,
The current law allows two minor plats to be developed in the same area,
but the law is silent on whether several plats, like the five sought for
Canyon Cliffs, is permitted.
Critics like Dennis Baker, who lives near the proposed Cliffs project, and
neighboring farmer Larry Yoder call that “stacking.”
Allowing developers to file multiple minor plats in an area for a single
neighborhood ignores the comprehensive plan. The county’s land use ordinance
should work with that blueprint and ensure that large development occurs
near cities and towns and does not carve up natural areas and farmland,
And Baker believes permitting stacking would ensure that more projects
like Canyon Cliffs are built.
“The way this is worded right now, there could be a 300-home subdivision
out in the middle of the country. Are you going to build that all on septic?
I don’t know that a developer would want to do that, but they could,” Baker said.
Baker also objects to eliminating terms in the law that limit the scope and
size of these small subdivisions. Those terms were a key part of opponents’
fight against Canyon Cliffs, he said, because they felt 28 homes was too
many to fit the definition of “small.”
Also, the Canyon Cliffs project called for public sewer and water to be
extended several miles to the addition. Baker and others said that violated
the ordinance, which called for no major improvements to the land. For Baker,
sewer and water lines are major improvements, he said.
But Frisinger defended removing the conditions from the law, saying that
any construction – such as a house, barn or drainage pond – is substantial.
The committee felt it important to allow public sewer connections because
Allen County’s clay soil doesn’t work well for septic systems, he said.
Frisinger defended the other proposed changes. He said he feels the revisions
would give landowners more flexibility, make the process more appealing and
ensure that property values are enhanced.
“The look we tried to achieve is something that was friendly to the
constituents and residents of Allen County,” Frisinger said.
“It accomplished what we wanted it to.”
Brian Roemke, another committee member and a local farmer, said the group
tried to craft a fair and consistent law that took into account all concerns.
He thinks the proposed changes would help cluster any new homes built in
rural areas instead of allowing houses to be scattered across the county.
That’s key for active farmers who prefer to farm one large tract of ground
as opposed to several small properties broken up by housing, Roemke said.
But another committee member thinks the law has morphed into something
“The intent of the original law was to preserve Allen County land and to
slow down development in the county,” said Jerry Ehle, Realtor and committee
member. “The recent changes, to me, expedite the development in the county.”
Meeting the technical rules required by the law is above and beyond what a
farmer or typical homeowner could tackle. Developers, however, are able to
navigate those rules, Ehle said.
The proposed changes also make the minor plat process more appealing to
developers by allowing them to stack several of these small subdivisions
to create one neighborhood. Those developers could build on rural land more
cheaply and faster than before the minor plat ordinance took effect, Ehle
Ehle favors repealing the ordinance and letting farmers sell two pieces of
ground each year. But he also wants planning officials to review and sign
off on those sales, ensuring that a house could be built there in the future.
“To me, it’s going backward. Here’s an easier way to develop where there is
no public utilities. I just don’t think that’s right. A community should be
built from the core out,” Baker said.