Westfield council approves Aurora development

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WESTFIELD, Ind. - The Westfield city council  approved a 314-acre project at Monday night's meeting. The Aurora development is set to bring industrial space, homes and shops to the area southeast of U.S. 31 and State Road 38. But, some residents say the project was pushed through the system too quickly and will disrupt their neighborhood for years.

The project site is currently home to empty fields and secluded houses. Residents in the area say they Aurora Development will decrease the value of their properties, increase traffic and not reflect their vision for the city.

"I thought quality of life was a little bit more important than the money," said Brian Pelley, who lives across the street from where retail shops will go in place. "They don’t seem to feel that way."

"We’ve gone from a rural nice setting to something that’s a potential 300-acre mixed-used development," said Kevin Huff, a resident who is a part of the Responsible Growth Alliance of Westfield. "That's a lot to digest for people that live out there."

Huff said more than 500 people have signed a petition against the Aurora development. Residents have also put bright, yellow signs in the front yards to display their disapproval.

The proposal itself has undergone some changes since it was first introduced in 2006. A presentation at Monday's council meeting details the amendments which included a reduction in the number of housing units allowed.  The Advisory Plan Committee gave the proposal a favorable recommendation last week.

"You can see Westfield blooming all over but we need that industrial tax base to lessen the burden on our local residents and homeowners," said Jim Ake, council president. "I know it's uncomfortable because it’s the old adage of 'not in my backyard.'"

Linda Naas said she helped write the city's comprehensive plan and this project is not in line with it.

"There’s still too many questions, too many holes, too many concerns that neighbors and the community have," Naas said.

But council members say delaying a decision on this proposal would hurt the city in the long run.

"The industrial park has some potential  users," Ake said. "We have probably lost one or two. To delay the process would delay advantages that we have in this moving forward."

Ake said the council is working on a roads plan to help mitigate any traffic issues caused by the development.