Hilltop rezoning process starting over in College Township

mcarroll@centredaily.comOctober 4, 2013 

— Township Council here opened the door Thursday for the owners of the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park to move ahead with new plans to redevelop their land.

The move essentially restarts a monthslong rezoning process Township Council has being dealing with since late 2012, when Lafayette, Ind.-based Trinitas Ventures asked for a higher density usage for the land to build a student housing complex.

Council rejected that proposal and instead sent a plan calling for lower density housing to a public hearing in November.

But property owners Kenneth and Sharon Mayes asked council this week to withdraw the plan and cancel the public hearing, explaining Trinitas is no longer interested in the land.

Council obliged Thursday, voting unanimously to pull the plug on the plan and hearing.

That gives the Mayeses and adjacent property owner Rodney Hendricks a chance to submit a new redevelopment proposal, which is expected on township officials’ desks sometime in November.

Hilltop closed in February after the owners notified residents they planned to sell the property.

Kenneth Mayes, who attended the meeting Thursday, thanked council and said he has “a couple of ideas” for the land.

He briefly discussed his plan to include a 4.5 acre parcel below Cottonwood Avenue as open space, making connections to the township bike path and access points for Slab Cabin Run and the former Mitchell Farm property.

The Mayeses and Hendricks are proposing a mix of gateway commercial, R2 and open space districts. The commercial zone matches a strip of the same district along East College Avenue.

The plan differs from the one Trinitas originally put forward calling for higher density R3 zoning. When that plan met with resistance from community members and council, the company suggested adding R1 and R2 to the mix, but still having some R3 zoning.

Council rejected the Trinitas request in June, and ultimately called for a public hearing on its own suggestion of a mix of R1 and R2 zoning.

Councilwoman Mary Shoemaker said Thursday she hasn’t been satisfied with any of the plans that have been officially put forward.

“I haven’t felt really happy about the creativity of any of the proposals we’ve seen so far,” she said. “So I’d be interested (to see) if the owners have something different than what we’ve seen.”

Shoemaker also pushed for public involvement, saying residents should be made aware of when the Mayeses will present their plan.

“I think instead of waiting, it’s important that the residents who are interested in this are there the very first time the owners come to present the plan so their comments can be heard right away,” she said.

The long rezoning process will start over when the Mayeses submit their proposal. Any plan would shift back and forth between the Planning Commission and council until it is approved for public hearing and, potentially, final approval.

And at least one council member noted that the panel has previously rejected a proposal over density concerns.

“We might not agree with this one either,” council Chairman David Fryer said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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