Annexed Ligonier property plans unveiled

A diagram of Ligonier’s 110 acres of annexed property just south of U.S. 6 and north of Diamond Lake Road, west of U.S. 33 shows space being shared between residential, commercial and industrial zones. This flexible diagram is one of many options developers could use to build on the property.

LIGONIER — The Ligonier common council meeting added hashed-out plans discussed briefly in Mayor Patty Fisel’s State of the City address, which directly preceded Monday’s speech.

One of those plans included a map for zoning in Ligonier’s 110 acres of annexed property just south of U.S. 6 and north of Diamond Lake Road, west of U.S. 33.

John Piraccini of Coldwell Banker presented different zoning options to the council during the citizen comment time of the meeting.

Piraccini is an advisor to John Coussens, the owner of the annexed property.

During his presentation, Piraccini spoke to why it took so long for proposed plans to come after the annex happened.

Part of it was making sure the project stayed compliant with ADP. Another part was extra time dedicated to portioning such a large piece of land.

“One of the problems is when you’re dealing with about 110 acres, when you look at an aerial, it doesn’t look like a lot,” Piraccini said. “It’s almost mind boggling, sometimes, when you get a size like that and trying to make something make sense.”

Right now, about 42-52 acres would be zoned for industry, 15-30 acres for retail and about 35-50 for residential, with planned separation between people’s homes and business.

Those plans are flexible, so more or less acreage might be allotted to the different zonings once details are worked out.

Piraccini praised Fisel and her team of departments, noting that people who communicate well are not found on every project he oversees.

“You’re fortunate to have people who really want to work with you and work together,” Piraccini said.

He also addressed the issue Ligonier faces, where the city wants both more employers and employees at the same time, but the lack of housing makes it so nobody can move to town to work.

The residential zone in this annex might help alleviate this “Catch 22,” he said.

“We want growth and industrial, but we don’t have any employees,” he said. “And when we get the growth and industrial, they have nowhere to live.”

A target population Piraccini said for real estate is millennials, since it’s becoming the most populous generation over baby boomers.

To attract them, Piraccini said building homes is key. Though millennials who are saddled with debt can’t afford a $200,000, new-build home, older folks can, and when they vacate their $90,000 home, the younger generation can occupy that available property.

Moving forward, Piraccini said he will continue talking to his engineer and the city.

In other business, Ligonier Police Chief and Public Safety Director Bryan Shearer presented the 2019 police report for his department to the common council.

Calls were up last year, Shearer noted, with the total number topping out at 22,241. That follows a trend, though, with 2018’s total of 19,539 calls up from the previous year.

Shearer attributed this year’s jump in calls to implementing the Spillman communication system, which is in each squad car.

Drug arrests dropped just one incident from 2018, while thefts continued an upward trend, totaling 97 last year, up from 78 in 2018.

And while criminal mischief and vandalism was up 12 incidents from 2018, Shearer said none of those were targeting Ligonier’s murals.

In fact, no murals have been vandalized since they’ve been in Ligonier’s downtown.

Shearer also reported the department has a high 95% compliance rate with code violations, which include animal and noise complaints as well as unkempt lawns.

The report detailed 8,439 business security checks and 1,949 vacation security checks performed by LPD last year.

Shearer said in the past 17 years his department has been doing vacation checks on homes that requested to have them, no break-ins have been reported, but officers have found water leaks and power outages and were able to tell the homeowners.

To end the presentation, Shearer mentioned the department’s drone usage. It had been used earlier this year to find a suspect who ran into the woods, and in another situation Shearer said K-9 police wouldn’t have been able to find a suspect.

“It’s been used quite a bit by our department and other agencies,” he said.

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