The Southwest Allen County Task Force embarked Tuesday on updating planning policies for land near Fort Wayne International Airport and the General Motors plant.
The group, consisting of eight members appointed by the county commissioners, laid out a tentative timetable that is expected to culminate in amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan being adopted by the end of the year.
The group plans three more meetings open to the public on July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 20, and a session for residents in mid-September. Times and locations were not announced.
The group would then pass on its report to the Allen County Plan Commission, which would hold a public hearing and vote on the amendments, probably in November. If passed, the changes would go to the county commissioners for a vote in December and be implemented next year.
Kim Bowman, executive director of the Allen County Department of Planning Services, said staff members already have reviewed the documents, including the Southwest Area Land Use Study of 1985 and Plan It Allen, the comprehensive plan from 2007, and will present recommended wording changes to the group.
With new development in the area around the airport, the Lafayette Center Road upgrade project, the expansion at GM and a growing number of requests for commercial development, it was time to reconsider planning ideas from a decade or more ago, Bowman said.
"We’re not throwing everything out," she said. "We are trying to clarify."
The staff has reconfigured the study area slightly from that considered in the Southwest Area Land Use Study. The area also has been divided into five sub-areas. The group heard several proposed changes in wording for Area 1, which is the area closest to the airport. The group will take up the other areas at its next meeting.
The wording of the existing planning documents became an issue last year in the controversial rezoning proposal for a giant truck and rail transfer facility along Winters Road north of the GM plant in Lafayette Township.
Opponents, who prevailed when county commissioners turned down the rezoning, argued that the wording meant no industrial development should be allowed north of the plant, while the developer, Crown Enterprises Inc. of Warren, Michigan, disagreed. That dispute has resulted in pending lawsuits against the plan commission filed by opponents and against the commissioners filed by Crown.