A new homes subdivision could be a stone's throw from Batesville High School and Batesville Primary School if two Batesville developers receive needed approvals.

Werner Garrett Ventures LLC has petitioned the city to annex 43.2 acres located west of Huntersville Road between I-74 and State Road 46. The Batesville Advisory Plan Commission and Batesville Board of Zoning Appeals held a public hearing about the potential annexation June 6.

Mark Werner, whose partner is Aaron Garrett, reported they have acquired the land and need the annexation to be able to use city utilities.

He said the unit development plan, which will allow mixed uses, will contain areas for businesses and residential homes.

Barb Foster, 24147 State Road 46 W., west of the property, said, "I just wonder ... (how the annexation) would affect our property."

David Raver, president of both panels, responded, "To be honest, we would look to annex the whole thing rather than have a small sliver that isn't in ... I don't think the city would force annexation, so you would remain as you are" outside of the city.

Tom Meyer, 627 N. Huntersville Road, living adjacent to the site and already within city limits, was worried the new homes would be small. Raver pointed out, "In terms of what he builds, the city can only enforce the codes the city has." A home must be a minimum of 1,200 square feet. "Beyond that, he can do what he wants to." If the land is developed, Werner Garrett Ventures will have to create a set of covenants that spell out details.

Meyer admitted, "I don't want that area to be developed."

Werner observed, "I have a vested interest to keep it good quality ... so it's going to be a good development ... If you don't allow that to happen, you're going to have difficulty selling the rest of the development out. This isn't something that's going to go in, in two or three years. This is long term."

According to the president, "Our business tonight is to make a recommendation to the city council ... We don't have any approval authority." At the city's recent Technical Review Committee meeting, leaders of local utilities "had a very good discussion" about the proposed neighborhood.

When Werner does divulge the unit development plan, "he has to abide by that." If changes are desired later, the Batesville Board of Zoning Appeals would grant or deny variances. "We have only had two or three of those hearings in the last decade," Raver recalled. "We've approved some and disallowed some. It's not a rubber stamp."

He reminded, "It's a state law that if you annex land, you have to get sanitary sewer to that land within three years." The president was concerned "if the land is annexed now, if the development doesn't go, the sewer project may have already started" with taxpayer money spent unnecessarily.

Werner discussed timing. "It's being farmed through the crop season." If the annexation is approved, the unit development plan would be finalized and submitted to the city for approval. "The best case scenario: Next spring we could start trying to put some of the infrastructure in. Houses would be after that. ... We would want to do it sooner (rather than later). Once we have an approved development, we're going."

"We kind of have a chicken and egg problem," the president decided. Who should spend money first? The developer paying the engineer for specific drawings with measurements, or the city extending a sewer line from the spot where two creeks flow together near Lake of the Woods to State Road 46, where the developers would tap in?

BBZA member Luke Kaiser felt "it makes sense to add residential housing to the west side."

Raver observed, "We can support the project ... how it's going to be used, The question is do we want to support annexing the property now" or wait until the development is underway to prove it's going to happen?

Werner was leery of investing an estimated $80,000 in engineering and approval fees before annexation was definite.

Imagining a future neighborhood near two schools, Raver said he was concerned "about how many roads come out on Huntersville Road with school traffic. Mark's very aware of that." The president also believed the subdivision should have "more than one exit just for safety."

"That will be addressed," promised Tim Macyauski, the city's director of operations who oversees streets and buildings and also is a BAPC member.

The president proposed asking city attorney Doug Wilson about the possibility of the council conditionally approving the annexation subject to a satisfactory unit development plan.

Raver expected the annexation to be on the July 8 city council agenda. Wilson will figure out options for Werner Garrett Ventures and the city. "Everybody's got to be protected."

Both panels – BAPC and BBZA – voted to recommend the council OK a conditional annexation.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.