Fortville considers design rules for new development


FORTVILLE — Fortville town officials took steps this week toward implementing new design standards, requirements meant to improve the look of the area and make it more pedestrian-friendly.

The council gave an initial nod this week to the creation of a local Design Review Board, which would look over new development proposals to ensure they add to the town’s landscape in a way that complements existing structures. The approximately 40-page standards outline addresses building design, architecture and materials, property setbacks, landscaping, lighting and more.

“I think the document is great — it looks like it’s a great place to start,” councilwoman Janet Manship said.

The standards initially would apply to new non-residential and multi-family developments, as well as certain additions and remodels, in the Broadway Consolidated Tax Increment Financing District, an area that stretches through town along Broadway Street and also comprises much of Main Street.

The plan is for the standards eventually to apply to most of town, said Burns Gutzwiller, president of the Fortville Redevelopment Commission, who presented the standards to the council along with Neil Stevenson, a planner with the Madison County Council of Governments, which the town uses for planning services.

Town officials plan to present the standards at a public input meeting set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday before voting on the standards at a later meeting.

Councilman Lenzy Hendrix — the lone councilman to vote against creating a review board, citing concerns about possible non-Fortville residents being allowed to serve on it — took issue with some of the design standards.

He said he thinks some of the illustrations are unclear, the maximum building height of four stories too tall and the style of design too common in other towns.

Hendrix noted the town has a lot of buildings from the 1940s and 1950s that are “very deco, very ’50s” and suggested Fortville should go in that direction.

“From a marketing standpoint, I think it’d be far more successful,” Hendrix said.

The standards were created by a group of about a dozen people, including Stevenson, town and county officials, business owners and residents, Gutzwiller said.

The council will vote on the standards sometime after receiving public input. The council also will have a second vote on creation of the review board.

The review board as currently outlined calls for five members: one representative from the Fortville Redevelopment Commission, the Hancock County Plan Commission and the Fortville Town Council, and two people who reside or own businesses in Fortville.

According to the governing rules of the review board, it would function as a subcommittee of the town council and provide recommendations to the Hancock County Plan Commission and Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals. The purpose of the board is to interpret and enforce the town’s standards as referenced in the Hancock County Zoning Code.

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Fortville town officials are considering adopting design standards to govern the look of future development projects in the area.

Generally, the standards guide seeks to:

• Provide clear and concise objectives to developers planning projects within the district

• Promote transportation including walking and biking

• Encourage compact, walkable development patterns

• Promote and create high-quality development inclusive of multiple/mixed-users

• Enhance the character and aesthetics of the Broadway Street Corridor as well as other corridors within the district

• Improve the connection of Broadway Street to Downtown Main Street

• Promote sustainable design principles

• Maintain and enhance property values in the community

Source: Broadway Consolidated TIF District Design Standards (draft)

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Residents are invited to weigh in on the proposed Fortville design standards at a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at town hall, 714 E. Broadway St., Fortville.