News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 7, 2013

Apartment construction plan hits bump in the road

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Planned construction of dozens of new apartment units on Terre Haute’s east side hit a big snag Wednesday night when the Vigo County Area Plan Commission failed to approve a new “plat” for the project.

The commission, voted 7 to 2 in favor of the new plat, which would allow for the expansion of the Sycamore Terrace apartments near the east-side Walmart store. However, a recommendation from the plan commission requires eight votes since that amounts to a simple majority of the 14-member body.

Commissioners Wayne Langman and Larry Agee voted against the plat. Langman said he opposed the plat because he believed water drainage from the existing Sycamore Terrace apartments was harming the property of neighbors Wayne and Linda Horn.

“[Thompson Thrift’s] property rights end at [the Horn’s] property line,” Langman stated in explaining his “no” vote. Agee also indicated he believed the Horn’s property had been harmed.

Last month, the Horns argued against a rezoning request from Thompson Thrift, the Sycamore Terrace developer. They said water drainage from Sycamore Terrace is harming their property. They also believe the drainage system in place violates state and local law.

Despite the Horn’s concerns, the Area Plan Commission and Terre Haute City Council voted to rezone the property for Sycamore Terrace last month. The next step was to replat the property, a step solely up to the Area Plan Commission.

Tim Fears, general counsel for Thompson Thrift, called on the commission to approve the plat, saying the project had met all legal requirements to move forward. “All of our plans have been approved,” Fears told the commissioners.

The failure of the plat means the multi-million dollar project could be delayed between six months and a year, said Jeremy Weir, executive director of the Area Planning Department, which had given a favorable recommendation to the new plat. In fact, the matter could potentially be determined by a judge, he said after Wednesday night’s meeting.

Thompson Thrift is seeking to build 72 new Sycamore Terrace apartment units on about six acres of land adjacent to the existing apartments.

Four members of the Area Plan Commission, John Collett, Jeff Ford, Norm Froderman and Rick Lasure, were absent Wednesday night. One member, Troy Fears, abstained because he is the brother of the general counsel for Thompson Thrift.

Members voting for the replat were Brad Anderson, Amy Auler, Chuck Ennis, John Hanley, Steve Marrs, Brent Spier and Fred Wilson.