Orange Township: South Old State condos plan draws neighbors' criticism

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

Several neighbors say they oppose a proposed development of a 5-acre, 22-unit condominium development geared to those ages 55 and older at 8119 S. Old State Road in Orange Township.

The proposed Independent Living at Old State development was approved for recommendation to the township trustees by the 5-0 vote of the township zoning commission April 27. If approved by trustees, the property would be rezoned from farm residence-1 to planned-elderly-residential district.

This video still shows the site of a 5-acre, 22-unit condominium development geared to those ages 55 and older that is being proposed at 8119 S. Old State Road in Orange Township.

The April 27 hearing was continued from March 16, when several residents raised concerns over the proposal, from impact on property values to traffic to the appropriateness of the plan for the site.

Developer John Wicks presented a modified plan to the zoning commission April 27, clarifying his position that the units would be condominiums and not apartments, and he intends to comply with all federal housing regulations to fit the 55-plus living designation.

Wicks also said he had planned to maintain the single-family home on the property and, pending approval of the rezoning, would have the lot separated and place the home for sale at a future date.

The updated plan also includes adjustments in setbacks and increased landscaping.

Wick agreed to commission members' requests that he provide documents to include language that the units would be age-restricted and that a condominium association would be formed as part of the rezoning application.

Commissioner Christine Trebellas said, “I know area residents would prefer single-family homes” on the site. She called the proposal, which preserves the home and calls for limited access to the complex, “a good compromise.”

Despite agreements sought and received by the commission, some local residents still resolutely oppose the plan.

“It’s not what the community wants,” Tony Miranda, who lives near the site, told ThisWeek.

Miranda said he remains concerned that even if units are sold to seniors, the units could in turn be subleased without having to follow federal age-restricted guidelines. He said he “can’t believe it won’t have any impact on property values or traffic.”

Miranda said many residents in the area are working to make sure neighbors are aware of the plan and to organize to either email or speak at the trustees’ hearing, once a date is set.

The proposed Independent Living at Old State development would be on the southeast corner of South Old State Road and Maxwell Avenue in Orange Township.

Township planning and zoning director Michele Boni said no date has been set for a hearing but said a late May or early June date is expected.

Miranda said he has seen some talk on social media about seeking a referendum on the rezoning, should it be approved by trustees.

“We’re just doing all we can do, getting people organized,” he said.

Trustees will hear a separate zoning request for condos on North Road at 6 p.m. May 19.

The request is a new plan for a site at the southeast corner of North and Lewis Center roads, on which a plan for apartments was approved by the zoning commission but overturned by trustees in 2020. That plan was strongly opposed by residents in the area.

This new plan was approved 3-2 by the zoning commission April 13 meeting.

Meetings will be held via Zoom and are open to the public. Go to orangetwp.org for information.

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