New Haven looks to annex property

August 29th, 2018

By Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

New Haven officials are pursuing an annexation request from the owners of 174 acres just west of the city – with an eye toward having the land become a new industrial park.

The request could lead to an alternative for an all-but-scuttled plan to buy the former Casad Depot for industrial use after purchase negotiations between for the city and the federal government broke down.

The federal government put the long-vacant World War II-era munitions and storage facility up for public auction this month.

Brian Yoh, director of planning and economic development, said the Lomont family has offered a signed petition for voluntary annexation of their land, which now is mostly in farming.

The property is just northeast of Doyle Road and U.S. 30 and beyond the travel plaza.

“The owners would like to see it developed industrial,” Yoh said of the Lomont property. “They want it to be in the city to benefit from planning and economic development services.”

Local officials who have surveyed the area consider a manufacturing campus the highest and best use of the land, Yoh said. However, the proposed annexation has not yet been placed before New Haven City Council.

New Haven received an up to $1 million match from the Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board to buy the depot in late 2016.

But that agreement expired in 18 months, and New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald has floated the idea of repurposing some or all that money for the Lomont property.

Public water and sewer are available along Doyle Road, but there could be expense to extend those utilities, Yoh said.

The property, unlike Casad, does not have rail access and is smaller. But as vacant land, it might appeal to buyers who would not want to tear down old buildings and clean up environmental contamination, which could cost millions over the purchase price.

Conversations with family members, who live around the country, have been going on “over a couple of years,” Yoh said.

Because the annexation is voluntary, it will require a different procedure than an involuntary annexation. The process is still being determined, but annexation could be finished by the end of the year, he said.