Last week members of the Plymouth Plan Commission considered the request of Garden Court to rezone a 3.5-acre parcel immediately to the west of Martin’s Supermarket on East Jefferson Street.  The request was to rezone the property from C-1 General Commercial to R-4 Multi-Family Residential.

The request, if approved, would allow Garden Court to construct three residential buildings with 12 units in each structure and an office building on the property.  Each apartment building would have 2 – one-bedroom units, 4 – two-bedroom units, and 6 – three-bedroom units for a total of 36 apartments.  The office building would house the rental offices and spaces for supportive services such as the Bowen Center which may put a new medical clinic in the space. There would also be approximately 60 parking spaces in the development. 

The project would be funded by multiple sources including Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, IHCDA Development Funds, and the Housing Trust Fund and Home Funds.  The development would be managed by Bradley Corporation. 

The 12 apartments would be Permanent Supportive Housing like Serenity Place on West Jefferson Street and the other 24 apartments would be subsidized housing or workforce housing for individuals, seniors, and families.  People would have to meet income guidelines and complete an application process, and background checks.

John Myers, President of Garden Courts Inc told the Plan Commission that Bowen Center has not committed to the clinic in the office building yet.  He also said they looked at 8 sites, with 4 owners not being interested in selling and 1 property being priced too high for the project. This site they selected was due to location, being close to shopping with the grocery and pharmacy next door and a dollar store nearby along with being within walking distance of the Middle School, Junior High, and High school.

Plan Commission member Fred Webster questioned the number of police and fire calls at Serenity Place and Myers said they removed two families and reduced the number of issues they were having.  Webster also voiced his concerns about saturating the neighborhood with low-income housing and mentioned the two Garden Court properties, Hurford House and Neidlinger along with the new development on Baker Street called Riverside Commons and Serenity House which is sober living for females.  He said the property is zoned commercial and should remain commercial because of its location on the gateway to the city.

Plan Commission member Mark Gidley said he heard all the residents in Serenity Place aren’t from Plymouth.  Mr. Myers said Area Two provides a list of applicants and they can come from Elkhart, Kosciusko, Saint Joseph, and Marshall Counties. He also asked how they arrived at the 36 apartments.  Rod Ludwig from Bradley Group said the financial viability of the project was at 36. 

During the public hearing, Dave and Chris Morrow from the former Morrow Insurance across the street from the proposed site had concerns with the rezoning from commercial to residential.  They also said there is a lack of sidewalks on Jefferson, Berkley, and Columbus Drive that would have residents walking on the road. 

City Attorney Sean Surrisi told the City Plan Commission that Mayor Senter is supportive of the project.  He also said he attended the state training from the Indiana Housing Institute which qualifies Garden Court for grant funds for the project. 

Kevin Berger, the developer who is doing Riverside Commons is supportive of the project and assisted with the site selection.  He also said the front parcel on Jefferson Street will be commercial.

Brandon Richie, who is a member of the Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals and running for the city council said Garden Court is a wonderful program, but he felt the location wasn’t right.

Fred Webster made a motion to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Plymouth City Council.  The vote was 5 in favor of the motion and 3 against with 1 abstention.  A majority of 6 was needed so the request to rezone moves on to the City Council with no recommendation.