Owner of stalled project on West Jefferson offers changes to get construction moving again

Construction at this former house on West Jefferson could resume soon now that the city Plan Commission has rezoned the land for commercial use. (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)

The owner of a 10,000-square-foot building on West Jefferson that has been in limbo for months because of construction and zoning concerns has suggested several changes designed to get the project moving again.

As The News-Sentinel first reported in June, the Allen County Building Department ordered Martin Quintana to stop work on the building at 6626 W. Jefferson Blvd. in April after inspectors found unlicensed contractors working there. But Caywood’s department had been aware of the project even before that because the building Quintana had said would be used for residential purposes took on a commercial appearance instead.

The Fort Wayne Plan Commission was to have considered Quintana’s request to rezone the property for commercial use in June but delayed a vote until Aug. 12 to give Quintana’s attorney, Jim Federoff, time to meet with neighbors, including residents of Covington Creek condominiums. Even if the Commission approves the rezoning, the building would still need a waiver from buffering and setback requirements.

Federoff said the setback waiver has been requested only for the west property line, which is adjacent to a 30- foot strip that is part of the Covington Creek condominium area and where no residential construction can occur because of its size.

Hoping to ease neighbors’ concerns — and objections — Federoff this week submitted a revised development plan to be considered next week. The plan adds trees and other buffering along the north and east sides of the building and would enclose open porches at the front and rear. Quintana is also offering a written commitment to exclude certain activities that would normally be allowed under the requested commercial zoning, including residential, animal facilities, automotive sales, bars, child care, pool hall, correctional facility, homeless shelter, zoo and many more.

In addition, restaurant drive-through lanes would not be permitted and trash collection would be limited to between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Although Caywood said Quintana may have originally tried to lower construction costs because residential building codes are different than commercial codes, Federoff told The News-Sentinel in June that he “sincerely believed (Quintana) really intended to use the building for residential, then his plans changed. But they just kept going (with construction).” Quintana owns or has owned several restaurants in town, including Dos Margaritas, Las Lomas and Famous Taco.

Tom Trent, attorney for Covington Creek, said he planned to meet with residents Wednesday to discuss Quintana’s proposal. “Obviously we’ll work in good faith (with Federoff), but there’s a lot of work to do before Monday.”