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Jefferson plaza gets ‘no’ vote from panel

April 18, 2017 GMT

In a victory for residents, the Fort Wayne Plan Commission on Monday shot down a proposed shopping center anchored by Peter Franklin Jewelers on West Jefferson Boulevard.

While the Fort Wayne City Council has final say, the commission voted 7-0 to recommend the council not pass the measure, a source of controversy.

Several dozen residents attended the meeting and broke into applause with the vote.

“Obviously, we were impressed by the deliberations of the commissioners and really thankful they took into account not just the concerns of the residents, but clearly they were thinking about the long-term ramifications for the entire city,” said. J.R. Tomkinson, who lives and owns a business near the proposed development.

A plan commission vote on a rezoning petition had twice been postponed as changes to address neighbors’ concerns were considered.

In late March, a group of residents who live near West Jefferson Boulevard asked for a formal look at land-use laws and policies affecting the corridor. Tomkinson said he still would like a study of the area with the interests of residents, the city and businesses taking into account.

The rezoning request would transform about 6.5 acres of currently residential land in the 4900 block of West Jefferson Boulevard into a three-building shopping center. The facility would house five stores with about 37,500 square feet of floor space.

A revised rezoning petition that was discussed Monday would not allow a gas station and would limit fast-food stores or coffee shops to two. It would disallow any drive-thru facilities.

Still, some plan commission members voiced concern about light pollution and how a change to retail might affect the area.

Without retail or residential development along the corridor, there is only one other possibility, commission member Don Schmidt said.

The message would be for “people who want to develop it would be professional offices,” he said.