Some things in life do not and should not have a price tag. The Cedar Creek area is one of those. Cedar Creek is located on Coldwater Road in northern Allen County – out past DuPont, Union Chapel, and almost – but not quite – out to the Allen County line. Out to where the breeze carries sweet smells of grass and trees and flowers. Out to where the creek flows lazily through the woods and the stillness hangs in the air.
Chapman Road – near Coldwater Road in northern Allen County
It is an area of quiet, peace, and serenity reminiscent of what our rural areas looked like decades ago. Its narrow roads wind through thick woods with heavy green tree canopies darkening the roadways and wetlands sidling up to the edges of the road. Cedar Creek is home to endangered species, migratory birds, and a long-established rare Great Blue Heron rookery. Cedar Creek is only one of three streams included in Indiana’s Natural, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System.
Yet looming on the horizon is a land deal that will destroy the beauty and serenity of Cedar Creek and its surroundings by reducing its worth to nothing more than a dollars and cents transaction. The land is owned by Charles and Sharon Bodenhafer. The development is a Mike Thomas Real Estate effort to turn the land into sterile beige subdivisions, matching his company’s other subdivisions in north, northeast, and southwest areas of Allen County.
But before the site can be developed, an obstacle must be set aside – an obstacle in the form of restrictive covenants intended to protect rural areas of Allen County that have seen unprecedented, unbridled, and unplanned urban sprawl.
In 2000, the Allen County Sewer and Water District imposed restrictive covenants which prohibited the extension of sewer service northward until the year 2015. But those covenants stand in the way of the Bodenhafer and Thomas land development deal because in order to develop this pristine area, sewer lines must be run. That means getting rid of the restrictive covenants as quickly as possible without generating a groundswell of opposition and public outcry.
On May 27, 2008, Oakmont Development Company III LLC – a Mike Thomas creation – hand delivered a letter dated May 27th to Ric Zehr, President of the board of the Allen County Water and Sewer District (ACWSD) requesting that the ACWSD lift the moratorium on northward expansion of sewers. Just one day later – on May 28th – the ACWSD voted unanimously to lift the restrictive covenants so that sewer line expansion could be pushed northward into territory that was supposed to be safe until the year 2015.
Photo Credit: created with Google Earth
Development is planned for the area between Coldwater Road and Richey Lane
The convoluted workings of creating a subdivision require an interwoven network of those who are needed to finish the business. The following is a diagram of relationships that have the potential to impact the decision to approve the subdivision.
Diagram of relationships among the members of commissions and boards
One of the most disturbing relationships is that of Charles Bodenhafer who is the President of the Plan Commission. Mr. Bodenhafer and his wife, Sharon, just coincidentally own the land where “Canyon Cliffs” is to be developed. And, in February 2008, he and Sharon Bodenhafer, formed a limited liability company – Coldwater Estates LLC – with Mike Thomas to develop the property.
On Thursday, June 12th, the relationships will collide. Charles Bodenhafer will be allowed to vote – unless he is disqualified or recuses himself – on upholding or denying the decision of the ACWSD to lift the restrictive covenants. If he votes to uphold the decision, he, his wife, and Mike Thomas Associates will go forward with the destruction of the Cedar Creek area, turning it into just another ugly mass of modern construction.
Google Earth view of area with overlay of data from National Wetlands Inventory
The above Google Earth photo is overlaid with data from the National Wetlands Inventory. The area is saturated with wetlands, and the development not only will destroy Cedar Creek and its surroundings but also will destroy a natural wetland environment.
The enormity of this destruction is hard to put into words. The following photos show the beauty of the area. Some things can have no price – and one of those priceless gems is the Cedar Creek area. When you finish reading this and looking at the photos, take action and call the members of the plan commission.
I do not live in the Cedar Creek area; I live in West Central in the heart of Fort Wayne on the banks of the St. Marys. We are all tied together by our love of the environment; the beauty of areas that have been protected from the powerful grasp of land developers, construction companies, and real estate agents who have no sense of aesthetics. Entities that will destroy the land for a dollar.
The breeze that has blown so softly and peacefully through Cedar Creek is about to turn into an ill wind fueled by the greed of land developers.
Cedar Creek at the junction of Shoaff Road and Chapman Road
Wooded area on Chapman Road
Woods on Chapman Road
Richey Lane – 40-foot right-of-way will be hacked into the woods
Decades old trees that will fall to make room for a right of way