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College Township Council Gives Thumbs Down to Hilltop Rezoning

by on June 25, 2013 6:40 AM

The future of the old Hilltop Mobile Home Park is in limbo, now that a rezoning request has been denied. The College Township Council turned down the rezoning request from Lafayette, Ind.-based Trinitas Ventures at a special meeting Tuesday night, despite a modified proposal from the developer. It's now up to the Planning Commission to decide what should happen next.

Residents filled the meeting room Tuesday night, and stayed to hear the council's decision despite a power outage and heavy storm raging outside. They didn't want to see student housing go up where the mobile home site once stood. It appears that won't happen. But that doesn't mean the site will be used solely to accommodate mobile homes, either. 

Travis Vencel, Vice President for Development at Trinitas, presented a rezoning plan Tuesday night that included space for R1, or single-family dwellings, R2, or multi-family space and R3, which included space for some student housing. The plan presented Tuesday night is different than the original redevelopment plan Trinitas had, which was to turn the land into luxury student housing; enough to house up to 300 students.

A motion to table the vote failed, and the council voted to deny the rezoning request, 4-1. Many former Hilltop residents, including Matt Rooke, spokesman for the Hilltop Residence Association, said the 27 acres of land on Squirrel Drive should be used for manufactured housing. 

"We don't need more student housing, we don't need more rentals. We need manufactured housing ... they're real home diversity," Rooke says. "I think, as you've looked at the density of that site, [a mobile home park] is the perfect density for the site."

Rooke says if the land is marketed correctly, it could attract a buyer who wants to subsidize a mobile home park. However, some members of the council say, much to their dismay, that's not possible. 

Council doesn't want to see the lot sit vacant for long, however. 

"This is heart wrenching, it was heart wrenching to everyone in this room to see that mobile home park go the way that it did," council chairman David Fryer says. "But life goes on ... I'm not sure that plot will be turned into a mobile home park." 

The current mobile home park ordinance is out-of-date and would need to be revised by the Planning Commission to accommodate a new park. After the council denied Trinitas its rezoning request, it charged the Planning Commission with the responsibility to look at the property and come up with some combination of single family and multi-family housing that will best suit the area. 

 There's no definite timetable, but the Planning Commission could see the plot of land on its agenda in the coming weeks. 

Vencel declined comment after the meeting. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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