Board of Zoning Appeals members approve location for new Allen County jail

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 11:09 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Along with members of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) and Allen County Commissioners were neighbors of the Sunnymede neighborhood in New Haven. The location of the jail, proposed by Allen County Commissioners at Thursday’s meeting, sits right next to the Sunnymede neighborhood.

Tensions at the meeting were high as BZA members approved the location of the jail.

“I’m very disappointed right now that my safety, my home and my neighborhood has now lost all value and all safety,” Becky Lottman said.

Lottman is a resident of the Sunnymede neighborhood. She and other neighbors believe the new Allen County jail will decrease the value of their neighborhood and property.

“You take that neighborhood, where the median income per household is $25,000, and you put a jail next to it, it can’t thrive,” Lottman said. “It can only fall apart.”

Other neighbors are upset, because they feel their concerns haven’t been heard. One neighbor, Alice Luebke, says Thursday was no different.

“They only thought about the money that they’re going to make for the construction people and everybody that’s going to be involved in the jail,” Luebke said.

At Thursday’s meeting, it was hard not to notice the sea of red: the Sunnymede neighbors. They say the color symbolizes their anger about the new jail.

Neighbors vow their fight is not over, although, they say, tonight was a major gut punch.

“I think a ball is rolling, and unfortunately, I live at the bottom of the hill and the ball is coming and there’s very little I feel I can do about it,” Lottman said.

21Alive asked Allen County Commissioners who were at the meeting, along with BZA members, for comment afterwards. They all declined to speak.