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Residents oppose plant expansion

Say Wayne Chemical hurts property values

A proposed expansion has drawn the ire of residents who live near Wayne Chemical Inc. in southwest Fort Wayne.

About 20 people attended the city Plan Commission public hearing Monday, complaining about the business that was described as a one-time good neighbor.

The company needs a rezoning from limited industrial to general industrial.

Wayne Chemical, 7114 Homestead Road, wants to build additions that will total 12,500 square feet. The business provides sanitation and water treatment chemicals and equipment products and services to the meat, food and beverage processing industries.

The expansion would include offices, labs and related areas. Laurie Spindler, vice president and general manager, would not disclose the project’s cost.

Residents, however, had no trouble saying what Wayne Chemical is costing them – home property values.

People living in the Pine Hollow, Forest Ridge and Dells of Bittersweet subdivisions said Wayne Chemical’s expansion would make it difficult for them to sell their houses, which surround the company’s more than four-acre site.

The residents complained about the removal of a row of trees, which were replaced with what many called “an ugly, industrial-looking” and “prison-like” fence. A representative of Wayne Chemical said the fence’s installation addressed a liability issue.

Even so, David Bowen and others pleaded with Plan Commission members not to recommend the rezoning request to the City Council in coming weeks.

As it is, “who wants to buy our house now?” Bowen asked.

Other complaints were about the noise at the plant, which has been in the area since 1969.

Spindler would not disclose financial information. But Manta Media Inc., which tracks companies, lists Wayne Chemical’s annual revenue between $5 million and $10 million with a staff of up to 20.

“We try to be a good neighbor,” Spindler said. “We’re not painting our building with crazy colors or anything like that.”

Subdivision planned

Developer Jeff Thomas wants to establish a $6 million subdivision on the north side of the 7400 to 7700 block of St. Joe Center Road.

The 61-home addition would be east of the Wedgewood Place subdivision on Fort Wayne’s northeast side. Thomas said he expects the ranch-style homes to range from $160,000 to $280,000. The houses will be three- and four-bedrooms. The area is zoned properly, so the commission could approve Thomas’ primary development plan for what would be called the Summer Wind addition.

Commission members will meet at 5 p.m. Monday.