INGALLS — Ingalls Town Council approved a rezoning request by Arbor Homes, clearing a hurdle for a housing development that promises to bring a large number of families into the area and into the South Madison Community School Corp. district.
The Maple Trails plan includes 379 homes on 150 acres just north of Maple Ridge Elementary School. The homes will range in price from $180,000 to $200,000.
The council approved the rezoning unanimously.
Mike Campbell from Arbor Homes said the homes are built to order, promising they will not be erected to stand empty prior to sale.
“We do not build speculatively,” Campbell said. “All our homes have contracts and a buyer.”
At a public hearing about the project last month, many area residents opposed to the project voiced their concerns. Campbell said he understood their concerns, but that Arbor Homes, which builds and employs locally, also cares about the area.
“I appreciate the passion the residents of Ingalls have for their community,” he said. “I want everyone to know that we have the same passion for ours.”
The addition, which would feed into South Madison Community Schools, has the potential to supply the district with a large number of prospective students. While some residents have expressed concern about whether the schools can accommodate this influx, school board trustee Kaye Wolverton called the development a “blessing.
“We are dependent on out-of-district children, and we can’t stay there,” she said. “We have to have young families to sustain our school corporation. Our younger classrooms are dwindling — every school has empty classrooms.”
Council President Tim Green countered some of the concerns of local residents — especially those who said the addition of the homes would diminish their own home values — that were voiced at a combative public hearing last month.
“We had 80 people in here for a hearing that went on for hours,” Green said. “We heard their complaints, and we listened to people that were rude, not polite, not tolerant. We’ve heard every bit of it, and they all had a chance to talk that night. Those houses are going to be $200,000, and I had to listen to people in double-wide trailers saying it would destroy their property values. I drove up and down that county road and saw $50- to $75-thousand-dollar houses, and they’re worried that these homes are going to hurt their values.”
In other council business, three vacancies were filled Monday evening.
• Teresa Egerton was sworn in as a new town council member to complete the term of Toni Caraway, who had to move out of state with her job. Egerton, who has a degree in business management, said she is looking forward to working for the town.
“Right now, I’m still in the learning process,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll learn quickly and be able to help the town more.”
• Interim Town Marshal Chris Thompson was named to the post on a permanent basis Monday, following a 3-1 vote by the council. Green said Thompson emerged from a solid group of candidates.
“We had 25 applicants, maybe more,” Green said. “We narrowed it to six and then down to three. All three applicants had experience and knowledge and would make this town proud. We know we want this to be a step forward.”
When asked by Green if he wanted the job, Thompson responded, “Absolutely.”
Thompson has been serving the interim role since early March, when Ricky Martin resigned following a suspension for conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty and violations of standard operating procedures. With the recent firing of reserve officer Joe Puig over questionable practices, Thompson said he wants to move the police department in a forward and positive direction.
“I’m looking forward to growing the department,” Thompson said. “I want to raise our standards up … and keep the department going in the right direction, because Ingalls is going to explode and have a lot of growth. We’ll have to add a lot of officers in the future.”
The lone dissenting vote came from Chris Bradshaw, who said he has no problems with Thompson but liked some of the qualifications of another candidate.
“I think he’s a great officer,” Bradshaw said of Thompson. “The issues were the training and certifications that some of the other applicants had. It came down to experience with our town versus training and certifications. But I have all the confidence in the world in Chief Thompson.”
• Heather Moser was named to the planning commission.