ENGLEWOOD — A group of residents that live on Rankin and Rumson drives attended the July 23 meeting of Englewood City Council to voice their concerns over the sale of 191 acres adjacent to their neighborhood.
Raymond Linville addressed council about the land, which was previously known as the Rupert Farm. The property is located in the City of Clayton on Sweet Potato Ridge Road and borders the jurisdictional boundaries of both the cities of Union and Englewood.
“We would like to talk about our houses, which are adjacent to this farm,” Linville said. “As many of you probably know, the farm acreage between Rankin and Sweet Potato is now under contract to a real estate agent. Is that correct?”
City Manager Eric Smith said the city is very familiar with the property. The owner passed away and the property went to her heirs and the heirs were intent on selling it. Smith said Development Director William Singer has done some research on the property.
“We were contacted by the person who represented the heirs about utilities,” Smith said. “Our policy is not to extend utilities outside of our corporate limit and they were informed of that. The property is entirely in Clayton except for a narrow driveway, I believe, that is in Englewood that is connected to the house. How that happened I couldn’t tell you.”
Smith said the only thing Englewood knows is that the property was sold but has no idea who it was sold to.
“The rumor is that it was sold to a developer for residential development, but I can say without hesitation that we have never been contacted by the new owners,” Smith stated. “We have not seen a plan. We don’t know what the ultimate objective is. Right now there is a lot of innuendo and perhaps rumors that are going around.”
Smith said he received an email from a resident that was forwarded to him by another member of council asking if the city has the right to shutoff streets, a few of which could potentially be connected to the new development. Smith told residents the city has the ability to shutoff its streets to prevent traffic flow from entering the Rankin and Rumson area if any development was to take place on the acreage in question.
“We have no control over the property that is in Clayton. It is up to them what they want to do,” Smith said. “I will editorialize just a little bit and tell you that I don’t know if they know what they bought, but it will be an extremely expensive site to develop because the rock is so shallow through there and there are some drainage issues that I don’t know if they fully appreciate.”
He joked that the worst thing the new owners would have to deal with was the “guy who lives at the end of the street.” He was referring to longtime Councilman Tom Franz.
“That is all we know,” Smith added. “We have never been contacted by anybody and we have no idea who the ownership is. I have been here long enough that I can tell you the history of that property. I knew Julie Rupert and we had talked to her about annexing to Englewood at one time. I know Union City Manager John Applegate had contact with her about annexing to Union, so as far as we know the whole thing is in limbo.”
Smith said that until the city sees some plans they would not have any idea about what is going on and most of the contact presumably would be with the City of Clayton.
Linville said the concern by residents is that if the development was allowed to connect to Englewood streets, it would create more traffic and more maintenance.
Smith said drainage issues would affect Englewood more than anything if the property was eventually developed, but he assured residents no access to city streets would be permitted.
“The homeowners in that area, we are not in favor of the streets going through at all,” Linville said. “We thought the best thing to do was to come up here and find out as much as we could. We’ve all had our families raised on those streets and being back there is just great. There is no traffic and the kids can ride their bikes in safety and that kind of thing.”
Smith said any development would have to be reviewed by the planning commission and a public hearing would be held and then be reviewed by council. By law the city is required to notify affected property owners about any potential development.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind