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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2005

Whitehouse: Comment invited on land-use draft

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Whitehouse officials are reviewing the draft of a revised land-use plan for the village and are inviting the public to comment on the draft next week.

The draft, prepared by Poggemeyer Design Group, has recommendations to guide development in the village over the next 15 years.

Its recommendations include using zoning to regulate "big box" development along the State Rt. 64 commercial corridor, renovating several buildings in the downtown area, encouraging more moderately-priced housing, and providing incentives for farmland preservation.

"Whitehouse is a growing community, and I think officials are going to try their hardest to see that there is quality development," said Michael Sachs, a planner for Poggemeyer.

The land-use plan draft calls for commercial development along State Rt. 64 and encourages developers to build stores on deeper lots to avoid strip shopping centers and allow better access from the busy road.

The draft says that if a "big box" store moves into the village, it should go next to the proposed State Rt. 64 and U.S. 24 bypass interchange. It recommends that the village revise its zoning regulations to set maximum building sizes so the village has some control over "big box" stores.

The plan predicts that other commercial development will occur along State Rt. 295 just west of the village, and suggests that the village should create strict zoning rules for that area if it is annexed into the village limits.

"I don't think anyone had ever thought about the west side of town having that commercial area," Mr. Sachs said.

For downtown Whitehouse, the plan offers several recommendations. It says the village should finish renovations of the Pythian Castle at the corner of Lucas and Providence streets and try to buy some of the houses along Lucas Street to demolish them and allow for new retail and office buildings. Also, the village should buy the old barn at Lucas and Gilead streets and renovate it for use as a Village Park shelter house.

"The facility could be especially useful during Cherry Fest and other village events in the park, plus it would preserve an historic structure and eliminate an eyesore," according to the plan.

The land-use plan draft says the village needs a wider range of housing options, and should consider amending its regulations to allow smaller house lots.

"The village should continue to encourage the development of more affordable housing within the village, including small apartments fro rent and condominiums," the plan says. "Single-family housing in the more affordable range, around $150,000, should also be encouraged to balance the numerous upscale developments."

For residential subdivision design, the plan encourages "cluster subdivisions," which have smaller lots placed close together and allow room for public open spaces.

The plan recommends further development of the Blue Creek Conservancy and Nona France recreational areas, possibly with athletic fields and other facilities. It says the village should aggressively market these recreational opportunities to develop a local tourism industry.

In addition to park land, the land-use plan considers how to preserve farmland around the outskirts of the village. Other recommendations in the plan include organized development of businesses in Whitehouse Square and the adjacent property, improving the traffic flow at the shopping plaza on Finzel and Weckerly roads, and extending Logan Street past the abandoned railroad tracks.

Residents may comment on the plan at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Whitehouse municipal building.



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