News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 3, 2013

Cobblestone gets approval, with caveat

Plan Commission says south wall must be built

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Area Plan Commission has approved a plat for the final phase of Cobblestone Crossings, a southside property development, but with a big condition attached.

At its meeting Wednesday night in the Vigo County annex, the commission, which is made up of volunteers charged with overseeing zoning requests in the county, passed on a voice vote a motion to approve the plat on the condition Cobblestone Crossings build a wall along its south property line.

The wall is designed to protect the property values of residents of Viscaya Point, a neighborhood south of Cobblestone, the commissioners said.

At the meeting, several residents of Viscaya asked the commissioners to require the wall. Stacy Gough, one of the most vocal proponents of the wall, said it would provide security for Viscaya residents and also protect their property values.

Fred Wilson, president of the plan commission, questioned whether the commissioners had the legal authority to require a wall as part of the plat approval. John Hanley, vice president of the commission, said he believed they do have that authority.

Wilson’s was the lone vote against requiring the wall. Norm Froderman, another commissioner, abstained from the vote because of his partial ownership stake in Cobblestone Crossings, which is a large commercial and residential development south of Terre Haute. Three commissioners, Amy Auler, Chuck Ennis and Jeff Ford, were absent from the meeting. There were 11 commissioners present.

A few moments after the vote, Thomas F. Bedsole, an attorney representing Cobblestone, said his client does not accept the commitment to construct a wall, suggesting a formal challenge to the commission vote could be imminent.

On Sept. 4, the commission voted to deny the Cobblestone plat request on grounds raised by Vice President Hanley. In a special meeting Sept. 18, however, Hanley told the commissioners that the grounds for his opinion at that meeting were found to not be 100 percent factual or verifiable in the written record or in tape recordings of earlier meetings. As a result, he felt Cobblestone’s plat request should be placed on the October agenda and that his Sept. 4 motion to deny the plat should be rescinded.

Accordingly, the commissioners voted in the Sept. 18 meeting to rescind their denial of Cobblestone’s request and return the matter to their agenda this month.

Cobblestone Crossings has provided hours of debate, discussion and strong disagreement at several Area Plan Commission meetings during the past year. At one point, the development’s original zoning was cast into doubt when it was discovered Froderman had not abstained from an important vote despite his ownership stake. At another meeting, the commissioners voted to accept an agreement between the Vigo County Commissioners and Cobblestone lifting a stop-work order but requiring a long wall between Cobblestone and Woodgate, another southside subdivision.

The plat request approved with a condition Wednesday night would allow Cobblestone to build several new two-story apartment buildings in the southeast corner of the development.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@