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Posted: Monday, 24 March 2014 4:20PM

CVS Developers: "Unreasonable" To Not Expect Development At Niles And Napier

Calling it "unreasonable" that people living a few hundred feet off of Niles Avenue in St. Joseph don't expect growth, the developers seeking to build a CVS Pharmacy and Niles and Napier are firing back after a broadcast report on a South Bend television station. Eric Harvey tells WSJM News they have been open and willing to speak with the people who live in the immediate vicinity of where they want to build the store where Florin Funeral Home now stands, and adds they're still seeking the input of neighbors. A private meeting was held last week, attended by just nine residents. Opposition to the plan prompted Harvey to pull the request from the St. Joseph Planning Commission on March 6, and they'll be back again with their proposal on April 10. Until then, he still wants to talk to residents to help eliminate their concerns about traffic, noise, lights, and environmental issues. WSJM News has reached out to opponents of the pharmacy and have not heard back.

Here is the full statement from developer Eric Harvey, as emailed to our newsroom:

Some neighborhood residents came to our first Planning Commission hearing on March the 6th and were concerned that our proposal would negatively impact the neighborhood by creating additional lighting, noise, and traffic, and negatively impact wildlife living in the ravine behind some of their homes. One part of our written proposal to the neighborhood focused on preserving the ravine and the other natural features of the neighborhood. We offered to fund a neighborhood conservation association that would provide a long-term plan for preserving the natural characteristics of the neighborhood. Money was also offered to each lot in the neighborhood to be used for preservation of the home and lot, or as needed. The idea is very simple, much like a neighborhood association or historic preservation association, the goal is to establish basic parameters that each lot in the neighborhood would conform to for the future. For example, the association document could prevent someone in the neighborhood from adding on to their garage in the protected area of the ravine, unless approved by the association.   We offered to hire a naturalist to study the ravine and prepare a conservation plan, a surveyor to survey each yard to define those areas that could possibly become tax-deductible conservation areas.   We offered to dedicate part of the development as a conservation area for the association, and allow the neighbors to select what they would like to see in the conservation area, such as gardens or sitting areas. We don't believe the neighborhood understands that unless something is done to address soil erosion, untreated storm-water runoff, and a plan for managing and caring for the undergrowth, that these environmental impacts will eventually affect the stability of their homes and the longevity of the neighborhood. The conservation association was only a part of our proposal, but along with our site design changes and treatment of storm water on the site would go a long way toward preserving the neighborhood.

We offered other changes to the site design that would address the lighting, noise and traffic concerns. For instance, we have offered to build a decorative wall that would be covered with ivy and block headlights and noise. This would also have a natural appearance and prevent additional soil erosion.

The photo provided is a view from the homes on Myrtle as we had originally proposed. We have since offered to move the curb cut closer to Niles Avenue and provide additional space for larger landscape buffering. We have moved the pavement and parking areas that were closest to Myrtle, 17 feet to the east closer to Niles Avenue.

We continue to seek suggestions that the neighbors would like to see to the proposed plan, but we have received no direct suggestions from the folks on Myrtle.

We find it unreasonable that folks living a few hundred feet from a 5-lane State highway running through the heart of the City, don't expect to see growth and development along the commercial corridor. We want residents to participate in the planned growth for the area by helping design a site they would enjoy. The majority of the proposed site is already zoned commercial, and the funeral home is planning to relocate. The residents have an opportunity right now to participate in the design of the site, and I'm sure there are many things we can do to satisfy their concerns if we are given that opportunity. In fact, we held a meeting with 9 other residents in the neighborhood on Wednesday. We heard good suggestions about the need to provide better traffic safety for the homes north of the site on Niles Avenue by possibly improving an alley at the rear of those homes. A dear neighbor living on Kingsley suggested some additional changes to the site and building that we should consider. We hope the neighbors are willing to meet with us to discuss their concerns. I'm available at 317.284.5527. Eric Harvey

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