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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 11, 2019 1:00 am

Effort to rezone land to farming advances

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Plan Commission on Thursday approved an infrequent request – to rezone land now designated for residential development to agricultural zoning.

Usually, the plan commission is faced with the opposite request – to rezone farmland for housing.

But applicants Dennis and Kristin Wood want 108 residentially zoned acres they own in Pleasant Township rezoned so they can continue to raise Angus beef for area restaurants.

The Woods bought the land, which had remained farmland, from the late Roy Buskirk and his wife, Karen, Dennis Wood told the commission. 

Buskirk was a longtime plan commission member and county councilman.

Wood said it was possible the Buskirks might have had eventual residential development in mind. But because the land is so close to Fort Wayne International Airport, that use is improbable now, he said.

The rezoning request comes, Wood said, because he would like to have a custom meat-cutting business as a home workshop on the property. A public hearing on a special-use proposal on that matter is set for Wednesday before the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals.

Wood told The Journal Gazette no slaughtering would be done on the property, which is east of Coverdale Road and along Indianapolis Road. Cattle would be sent off site and returned in six large pieces that would be custom-cut according to the needs of his customers, he said.

Tolon, a farm-to-fork restaurant near Superior and Harrison streets, and Bravas, which has a restaurant on Fairfield Avenue and a food truck, use meat from his farm, Wood said.

Pat Hess, a Fort Wayne attorney representing heirs of Buskirk who live in Colorado but own nearby property, asked for a written commitment that would ban several uses.

They include kennels, poultry establishments, high-intensity agricultural operations, asphalt and concrete plants, arenas, shooting ranges and building materials disposal sites, among others.

Wood said he would rather not agree to the commitment without further study. James Wolff, the plan commission's representative of the Purdue University Extension office, moved the plan be approved without the commitment.

The commitment was presented to plan commission members for the first time during the hearing.

Wolff's motion was unanimously approved. Wood said after the meeting he and Hess would likely strike a deal on the commitment by Wednesday.

All rezonings must also be approved by the Allen County commissioners. The BZA will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 35 of Citizens Square.

The plan commission convened its business meeting after its public hearing because of a light project schedule.  

rsalter@jg.net