Tie vote stalls apartment proposal

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Indianapolis-based Hudson Investing wants to develop two apartment buildings housing 40 units each just west of Ridge View Apartments in Fortville.

FORTVILLE – The fate of two proposed apartment buildings for Fortville remains uncertain after elected officials reached a tie vote on the matter.

Town council members’ impasse prompted them to continue the consideration to their next meeting, where they hope to have more leadership present.

Indianapolis-based Hudson Investing is pursuing the two-building development, called Ridgeview West, on about 4 acres just west of Ridge View Apartments located at 550-801 N. School St., which the firm also owns.

The proposal calls for each building to be over 47,000 square feet flanking Main Street, which currently doesn’t exist through the property but would be part of the project. Both buildings would be two stories on their north and south ends and three stories in the middle, with a maximum height of 45 feet. Each would have 40 market-rate apartments.

Hudson Investing is asking the town to rezone the site from its current residential designation to a planned unit development, which would establish specific development standards for the development.

Fortville Town Council voted 2-2 Tuesday night on the rezone on second and what would have been final reading, with Becky Davis and Tonya Davis voting in favor and Robert Holland and Libby Wyatt voting against. Fritz Fentz was out of state and attended the beginning of the discussion virtually, but left after reporting being unable to hear the meeting well.

The council’s rules call for the town clerk-treasurer to break ties, but officeholder Missy Glazier was absent.

“The town does have to grow,” Becky Davis said of her support for the proposal. “We need the people, we need the tax base … and I don’t think this is a bad plan.”

Holland said he thinks the proposed apartments look good and that there’s a “drastic need” for market-rate apartments in Fortville. He added connecting the two current dead ends of Main Street to the north and south of the site is inevitable, but doesn’t feel the apartment buildings Hudson Investing proposes are the best fit for that location.

“My vision of Main Street is a continuation of the Main Street that’s already there, from the business district all the way north,” Holland said. “…I think that the natural progression of that would be awesome with single-family … Main Street-style homes.”

Russell Brown, a lawyer with Clark Quinn in Indianapolis representing Hudson Investing, noted the project would likely need financial assistance from the town to be feasible.

“We anticipate, as the project is approved in whatever final form it’s approved, that there will be a gap,” Brown said. “I can’t tell you what that gap looks like today, but that will include some discussions about how do you fill that gap.”

Not yet knowing how much the project would need from the town also gave Holland pause.

After the tie vote, the town council voted unanimously to continue the matter to its next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 18 at the Fortville Community Center, 400 W. Church St.

Fentz told the Daily Reporter he was glad the matter got continued, as it gives time for town officials to think about and discuss important issues regarding the future of the site. He added that if the apartments don’t move forward but a plan to extend Main Street through the area does, that would provide enough room for about 20 single-family lots.

But then that prompts to-be-determined issues, he continued, like how the Hancock County Surveyor’s Office would require drainage to be handled on the site. A retention pond, for instance, would eat into the number of lots that could go there.

Fentz said he does like the idea for the apartments, however.

“Beautiful,” he said of the proposal. “I love them. They look really nice.”

The town council’s tie vote followed the Fortville Advisory Plan Commission’s favorable recommendation on the rezone last week and over a dozen town residents speaking out against the proposal Tuesday night. Opponents expressed concerns over increased traffic through their neighborhoods, the buildings’ heights, that the buildings don’t fit in with the existing character of the area or town, possible negative impacts to surrounding property values and 10-foot setbacks between existing homes and the complex’s parking areas.

“It’s not matching the area or the charm of Fortville,” said Sherry Lambert, who lives near the site. “…Yes, apartment buildings would be nice, but not plopped in the middle of the single-family homes.”

Sam Harper, who also lives near the site, noted the existing Ridge View Apartments are two stories tall.

“It would be one thing to build two-story apartments in the same style as what exists, but this is going to be an eyesore, it’s going to stick out,” he said. “…This is not the answer to growing Fortville.”

Kent Ritter of Hudson Investing said the existing Ridge View Apartments, which are made up of 48 units, has a wait list of about 40 people.

“There’s a desire to live in Fortville, there’s just not enough housing,” Ritter said. “That’s really the mission of my company, is to provide affordable, modern housing throughout Indiana.”

Ritter anticipates a two-year build if the project is approved. Monthly rent rates, in 2025 figures, are expected at $1,100 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit; $1,500 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom; and $1,800 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom.

Brown estimates the development to generate about $180,000 a year in property taxes.

Proposed standards for the project outline potential commercial space on the buildings’ first floors, although it’s not currently the developer’s intention to include it. If that space is not used for commercial, it would be amenity space for apartment residents.

The new development would also have space for onsite management for the new and existing Ridge View buildings, something currently lacking on the property.

Over 140 parking spaces are proposed, along with traffic-calming measures on the new stretch of Main Street like a striped pedestrian crosswalk and bump-out curbs.

If Ridgeview West is approved, Hudson Investing agrees to replace the existing buildings’ vinyl siding with fiber cement siding before a certificate of occupancy is granted for the new buildings.