Environmental concerns about the proposed Kell Reserve housing development in Perry Township surfaced Thursday at an Allen County Plan Commission public hearing.
With 77 single-family homes on 70 acres, the proposed development is at the northwest corner of Kell and West Cedar Canyons roads. The land is cut by three regulated drains and Willow Creek.
The extensive amount of water in the area led a neighbors, Kyle C. Quandt, an environmental scientist, and David Van Gilder of Huntertown, president of the Friends of Cedar Creek, to urge extra care because of the potential for damage to watersheds.
“Willow Creek is a major tributary to Cedar Creek, which is one of only three state-designated natural, scenic and recreational rivers,” Van Gilder said. “So the whole water quality issue is really paramount.”
The site is to be developed by Quality Crafted Homes, Fort Wayne. Plans show six detention ponds and a large area of wetlands, to remain undisturbed, in the northeast corner of the site and natural buffers along the ditches and the creek.
Quandt told the commission that Willow Creek is “critical” in maintaining the riparian buffer to Cedar Creek and that the amount of open water would attract wild geese.
That would likely add to the watershed's load of E. coli, bacteria that are potentially dangerous to people. Also, she said the site is predominantly wooded, and many of those trees would likely be cut down, increasing runoff.
After the meeting, Quandt told The Journal Gazette she was not against development of the site but opposed the layout and density of homes as not as environmentally sensitive as they could be.
Both she and Van Gilder recommended a bridge instead of a culvert for dealing with crossing one of the property's ditches.
Greg Roberts of Donovan Engineering, Fort Wayne, said the developer would work with the Allen County surveyor's office on drainage issues and with Northwest Allen County Schools' officials on bus service to the development.
The latter is an issue because the development could not be laid out with a road loop because of difficult topography, and cul-de-sacs might not be adequate for bus turnarounds, he said.
He also agreed there might be an issue with right-of-way along Kell Road for eventual development of the Pufferbelly Trail. But developers are cognizant of the issue and are designating extra right of way, he said.