The unofficial moratorium on the construction of high-density housing in West Lafayette, instituted in early 2019, has come to an end as the city council voted Tuesday to approve rezoning to allow a seven-story, 763-bedroom mixed-use development next to Rise and The Hub.
The council also approved a rezoning to allow a five-story, 103-bedroom residential development in the southeast corner of Pierce and West Wood streets.
The seven-story building, named “Verve,” also features retail space on its ground floor, enough to accommodate five businesses.
“Purdue is moving to a higher student population and we don't know what the cap is,” council President Bunder said. “There may not be a cap, but we need to talk about that. Are they going to build dorms? They say they are. Where are they going to build them and how many people would be in those? How much more (does the city) need to have? West Lafayette, we need to provoke that conversation.”
Bunder was the sole vote against the ordinances.
“I think we're missing an opportunity to have a conversation with the university about the future of their enrollment and the future of their constructing or not constructing residences on their property,” Bunder said after the meeting.
Council member David Sanders, who voted in favor of the ordinances, said that although he is not opposed to housing, he is concerned about how the continued growth of Purdue affects the West Lafayette communities.
“We will just be allowing Purdue to expand for no particular reason,” Sanders said. “Well, the major reason is so that President Daniels can say we never raised tuition. That is the reason Purdue is expanding its student population. …
"The problem is that it is outsourcing the Purdue population to be the problem of the community," Sanders said. "I think that those sorts of discussions about the fact that there was going to be these increases and that Purdue needs to come up needs to be part of the solution, rather than just creating the problem for the community. Those conversations needed to be had a long time ago.”
The council also approved a resolution designating an area of the Purdue Aerospace District in Discovery Park as an economic revitalization area. The designation would allow for tax abatements for Rolls Royce on its two testing facilities that will be built in the district.
Sanders gave a presentation in opposition to the resolution. The presentation cited how a UK court found 12 counts of conspiracy to corrupt or failure to prevent bribery in seven countries and fined Rolls Royce 497 million pounds.
A statement given by Rolls Royce read, “Past business practices that were uncovered years ago do not reflect the manner in which Rolls Royce does business today. We now conduct ourselves in a fundamentally different way.”
Sanders also raised concerns over the company’s involvement in the military-industrial complex as well as his doubt that the facilities will benefit the community.
Council Vice President Gerald Thomas called the presentation a "tirade."
Sanders and James Blanco were the two nay votes on the resolution.
An ordinance that would have moved the start time for West Lafayette’s noise ordinances from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m. failed, with Bunder being the sole vote in favor.