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Plainfield residents protest higher-density housing in their rural neighborhood

By Becky Schroer

More than 100 people have signed a petition against a potential three-home-per-acre development near their acre-plus homes in Plainfield. Approximately a dozen expressed their concerns – from the impacts on Hadley Road traffic to those on school classroom sizes–during a rezoning hearing at the Plainfield Planning Commission earlier this month.

The commission voted 5-1 in favor of the initial approval of Westport Homes’ request to rezone of 27.13 acres to R-4 and 43.74 acres to R-3 at County Road 675 East and Hadley Road (County Road 600 South) – on farmland currently across from John Hall Construction.

“Everyone south of Hadley Road is not happy all,” said local realtor and nearby resident Tim Ratliff. His 1.3-acre home as well as 15 other one-acre-plus homes off of County Road 700 South will be impacted in a variety of ways. “First if all my concerns are I live in the country, and I don’t want anyone around me…I know that is selfish,” the lifelong Plainfield resident said.

“My biggest concern — and others’ in the area — is traffic on Hadley Road at 675 (East),” Ratliff said, adding that he and other residents already wait a considerable time to access Hadley Road. He added that the traffic study relative to the proposed development does not show any changes to the road or traffic patterns. At least seven other residents also voiced their traffic concerns during the meeting.

Tom Frieje, who lives on Hadley Road, said he can spend several minutes trying to enter the road in the morning. He added that his house vibrates when a trash truck hits a dip at a Hadley Road bridge near his home.

Another concern, Ratliff said, is the density of the development. Westport Homes is proposing 10,000-square-foot lots and homes $325,000 and higher. While the entire subdivision would be 70 acres, 20-24 of those acres are wooded, he noted. He added that the developer’s representative stated at the meeting it was planning to build 158 homes on the remaining acreage.

Ratliff added that the first addition south of County Road 675 East is Colonial East with $500,000-plus homes on a minimum of one-acre lots. “We are probably not going to stop anything but we are going to try,” he said.

Several other people attending the meeting echoed Ratliff’s concerns – one of them was John Hall who owns a business immediately across from the proposal development that will sit on land he previously farmed. He noted the trouble his trucks currently experience entering Hadley Road and suggested road/traffic improvements.

Because the area is largely rural, Jenny Rice expressed concerns for the safety of farm equipment traveling on the roads. Jill Martin feared that the additional 158 homes would result in larger classroom sizes at Plainfield schools. Linda Weatherly said that the wildlife will be impacted, and she doesn’t want this development in their neighborhood.

Plainfield Town Attorney Mel Daniel reminded the residents that the plan commission is not considering the actual development. It is determining whether R-4 and R-3 zonings are appropriate for the area. He explained that there will be other meetings to address concerns such as traffic and development details further in the process, upon rezoning.

Plainfield Transportation Director Scott Singleton also reviewed improvements to Hadley Road that are planned for this summer. He said that Hadley Road west of County Road 700 South will be expanded to three lanes. A left turn lane will be installed on Hall Road at Center Ridge, he added.

Residents submitted a petition with 104 signatures opposing the rezoning. In addition, Westport Homes has agreed to a list of 18 commitments after talking to area neighbors, according to the developer’s attorney Brian Touhy. He added that the developer anticipates building could occur in two and a half to three years after town approvals.

Tuohy noted that 20-24 acres of woods and creek would be retained within the 70-acre development. He also explained that Westport Homes was planning “age-targeted” one-story homes for older individuals on a portion of the development, and that would result in fewer school-age children.

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