Summer start for Craftsman Village

NAPPANEE — Craftsman Village subdivision will begin construction this summer on the first phase of the project which features single-family homes but also leaves possibility for small commercial use of homes to later be built there.
Despite a room filled with opposition to the project Nappanee Town Council approved the construction during its June 17 meeting.
Once completed, the total project will cover 44 acres on the city’s south side.
Extension of South Jackson Street will provide entrance to the housing community, which will also feature access to SR19 and further south into the current Paddlebrook Pond housing development.
Guidelines include a manmade wetlands area using plants and foliage which naturally absorb pollutants.
This area will collect the rainwater runoff of the area and strip it of chemicals such as farm fertilizers and those collected in the air from everyday invisible pollutants.
The water will pass through the wetlands area for cleaning with natural landscaping leading it on westward to an already existing ditch to carry it southward in a safe manner for both properties and traffic along SR19.
All four sides of the housing development will feature vegetative buffers requiring little maintenance.
The area will also be designed with foliage to enhance the “traditional neighborhood design” being sought.
The southwest corner of the property will offer a community garden, neighborhood park and several areas for playing basketball and other sports.
Proposal’s history
Plans for the subdivision have already been reviewed and approved by engineers at local, county and state levels.
That was done prior to Craftsman Village being approved by the Nappanee Town Council five years ago.
Upon approval Project Engineer Timothy Saylor, president of Goshen-based Innovative Communities was given five years to make significant advancement on developing the housing community.
Shortly after that approval, the national recession, and plummeting housing industry, resulted in the project engineer pulling the plug for beginning construction on Craftsman Village.
Now the economy and housing industry have both recovered enough to give Saylor confidence to move forward again with the project.
He returned to the Nappanee Town Council for reapproval because the five-year progress period had ended. Council members approved his decision to continue.
Phase One of the project is outlined for construction of the first eight single-family dwellings.
Phase Two will include construction of lots nine through 22.
Homes are expected to be valued between $200,000 and $300,000.
Most will remain single-family dwellings. Others will make it possible for small commercial businesses where home owners could possibly offer household maintenance, massage and other services, or even small retail.
Several aspects of the plan concern neighbors in Paddlebrook Pond – a housing development located immediately south of the developing Craftsman Village – and those living along SR19, which is the western border of the new housing community.
Neighbor concerns include the following: flooding from runoff waters inside Craftsman Village, increased traffic flow, forced annexation and government conspiracy theories.
Several neighbors are concerned about water retention and possible runoff, which could occur and flood surrounding properties.
Saylor said the design of the wetlands allow it to collect and clean the waters. The landscaping will effectively push it south without interrupting any properties in or around Craftsman Village.
He shared that these plans had been reviewed and approved by city, county and state engineers.
Paddlebrook Pond residents voiced concern over a street connection being made between the two housing communities, fearing it may increase traffic and speeds which would endanger their children and way of life.
Engineer Saylor met their concerns with reassurances of the road designs inside Craftsman Village.
Streets will be 24-feet wide, which will be large enough to allow traffic but narrower than average city streets.
The streets will be wide enough to allow parking on one side.
There will also be landscaping including medians between lanes. Median landscaping can already be seen in other city developments such as the entrance to McCormick Drive of off Woodview Drive/CR52).
Saylor said these visual differences both consciously and subconsciously register with drivers and they automatically slow down their speeds.
Traffic will be slowed by narrow streets and landscaping obstacles.
Council members said Craftsman Village was being built in an area already within city limits.
The council assured Paddlebrook Pond residents, whose subdivision is located outside city limits, that they would not be annexed.
Saylor, the project’s engineer, said Craftsman Village’s design will recreate a 1950s-style of living where front porches set close to sidewalks – only a 25-foot setback from the curb.
This encourages neighbors walking and riding bicycles to stop and chat with homeowners, he said.
Garages will also be designed to set further back on properties. This will provide more room for visitor parking while relieving the fight for parking spaces on the street.
Lots will be narrower and longer, Saylor said. This will accommodate narrow houses extending further back on lots rather than the current design of wider lots where garages are flush with the front of houses, which leave little space for additional parking.
Both designs aren’t congruent with current city guidelines. A special variance was granted for Craftsman Village Homes.
“What happens if our other city people want to do this with their homes?” asked Councilman Michael Stull.
Nappanee Mayor Larry Thompson explained that existing houses were built according to guidelines from the era in which they were built. To now alter those borders and setbacks would affect more than the property being renovated.
Therefore, to avoid destruction of neighboring properties, variances similar to Craftsman Village would likely not be allowed, the council said.
Stull was only councilman voting against moving forward with construction of Phase One concerning Craftsman Village.