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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 19, 2019 1:00 am

Auto Truck Group gets OK to grow

Company customizes trucks for local entities

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

A company that customizes trucks was greenlighted to expand to land south of Stonebridge Road in Lafayette Township on Thursday by the Allen County Plan Commission.

The commission also OK'd a rezoning and a primary development plan for Drakes Pointe, a 155-lot single-family home neighborhood off the south side of Carroll Road in Eel River Township.

Auto Truck Group, which has a location at 13710 Lower Huntington Road, is the company that plans to expand on 118 acres on the north side of the 12800 to 13400 blocks of Hamilton Road.

The company takes standard-issue light trucks and makes them appropriate for specialized uses by utilities, railroads, government agencies, first responders and other entities, said Fort Wayne attorney Thomas Niezer.

Niezer represents the project's applicants, Silverado Properties LLC and OMD Holdings LLC, both of Fort Wayne.

According to the business's website, Auto Truck is known in the industry as an “upfitter” that uses the slogan, “We put the work in work trucks.” About 75% of its Fort Wayne business is with the General Motors plant in Lafayette Township, Niezer said. GM is north of the site.

The company's need to store large numbers of trucks outdoors before and after customizing them necessitated the switch in zoning from its current zoning of business, technology, industrial park, BTI, to general industrial, I2, which allows more intensive uses, the plan commission was told.

The acreage was approved as BTI in 2016 for three industrial lots, at the time without tenants.

Planned now, Niezer said, is a 65,000-square-foot building. Additional acreage to the south along Hamilton Road was rezoned to serve as a stormwater management area, and a wooded area south of an electrical line was rezoned agricultural to be sold or developed residentially.

Those two tracts amount to 30.2 acres. No investment or job information was contained in the application. Local Auto Truck officials could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

The Drakes Pointe proposal was advanced by North Eastern Development Corp., Fort Wayne. About 74 acres were rezoned from agricultural to single-family residential, with about 68 for the development. The rest are a home site, which will remain or eventually be torn down, commission members were told.

Both rezonings must be approved by the Allen County Commissioners, who have the final say.

In other business, the plan commission approved a primary development plan for B&P Cold Storage in Woodburn Industrial Park for an extension of Roemer Drive to serve as a 25-space gravel parking area and holding area for trucks. The road extension and parking lot will serve a company expansion.

Although the extension is to 2,700 feet, above the zoning ordinance's allowance for a maximum 1,320-foot cul-de-sac street, the approval will keep trucks from idling in a public street. And, the street may be extended in the future to Maumee Center Road.

rsalter@jg.net