Making good neighbors can be a challenge

WE ALL HAVE NEIGHBORS and finding a good one – or the right one – is often a challenge.

It also is a challenge for local governments when disputes arise over who should be neighbors within their boundaries.

That’s something both the Plymouth Town Board and the Plymouth City Council have rediscovered in the past month.

In the town, the issue was a conditional use permit request from the Van Horn Automotive Group to pave a parking lot for new car storage at County O and Pleasant View Road. In the city, the issue was a rezoning for land at the corner of State 67 and Hill and Dale Road to clear the way for a proposed 96-unit apartment development.

For town residents, there were a number of issues related to the proposal from Van Horn, which has greatly increased its presence on the former Jim Pankow property north of the city to meet its growing automotive business.

Neighbors were concerned about drainage issues, noise, road damage, traffic and more from the proposed lot. They voiced their concerns to the Town Board, which agreed to table the permit request.

Van Horn officials answered some of the concerns and pledged to work on resolving the rest before bringing their request back at next month’s board meeting.

It was an example of the conflicts that can arise when economic and business growth runs up against quiet residential areas – and an example of how discussing those differences openly and respectfully can hopefully lead to a satisfactory resolution.

In the city, residents of the South Hills and Greystone subdivision raised concerns about traffic, noise, congestion, safety and property values in the wake of the proposed apartment complex to their south and east.

The developers and local economic development officials countered that the development is needed to meet a critical shortage of apartments in the county which i s negatively impacting job growth – borne out by the number of similar apartment developments now in various stages in other areas of the county.

Some of the neighbors’ concerns may have been exaggerated or overstated, but the majority were real and genuine.

However, the apartment plan fits with the city’s master plan as far as land use goes, and does meet a very real need. And those in the subdivisions do neighbor other non-residential land uses, such as an implement dealership.

The next step will be the review by the Plan Commission of the site plan for the project, at which point there will likely be a number of questions and concerns raised, with the answers yet to be seen.

When the question is making and being good and right neighbors, those answers can sometimes be challenging and difficult.

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