Neighbors fear village would disrupt rural settingMay 18, 2018
By CANDY NEAL
DUBOIS — The quaint and quiet area of northeast Dubois County is the ideal setting for a German medieval village, planners of the village said.
But some of the people who live near the site proposed for the village, 50 acres of farmland at 3301 N. State Road 545, don’t feel the same.
“We are concerned about it,” said Alan Matheis, who lives a mile east of the property. “It’s a peaceful area. If we had 200,000 people coming in here, that would change the peacefulness.”
The proposed village would have buildings such as a castle, culinary school and banquet hall, medieval dinner tournament location and meadery.
Matheis, and 20 others, have spoken up and said that they don’t want the development in their neighborhood.
They have signed copies of a letter that states they do not want the village on the property, nor have they been contacted by planners about the village.
They brought the letters to The Herald after seeing a story in the March 28 paper about the development and reading that planners stated that the majority of the neighbors had no objections to the project.
“They didn’t talk to anybody,” said James Hasenour, who lives next door to the property, “not anybody that I know.”
Village planners, who are also the organizers of the Rosenvolk German Medieval Festival in Ferdinand, said that they had not heard of any objections to the project. Catherine LeBlanc said she did talk to an adjacent neighbor, and that neighbor told her that no one else out there objected to the project.
“I took him at his word,” she said. “I took it to good authority that the others didn’t object.”
She now realizes that isn’t the case, and would like to talk to the neighbors to ease their concerns.
Planners also had a booth at the last Dubois Septemberfest to show their plans and talk to people. Of the many people who stopped to chat with them, only one expressed concerns, LeBlanc said.
The main concerns of the group are the number of people who would come to the village and the planners’ efforts to get a nonprofit status.
“Many people who live in rural areas enjoy being away from the traffic and congestion of towns and cities,” the letter stated. “Please consider how you would respond if you were told that hundreds of thousands of people were going to intrude into your neighborhood and significantly change your way of living.”
The village will be a quiet place the majority of the year, and will blend in with country setting, LeBlanc said.
“Part of the reason that fairs are held in the country is because they want that country feeling when people come, she said. “We are not going to change that country feel.”
LeBlanc said that the times there would be a lot of people at the village would be during the fairs, and those would be held four weekends per year.
“That is the only time there would be a lot of traffic,” she said, “and it’s only the weekend. It would not be during the week. It’s not continuous.”
For the rest of the year, the village would be a medieval learning center. The Rosenvolk Education Initiative will have education programs for the schools that would be held on the site during the times that fairs are not being held, she said.
“We would use the property as extended education for the school system,” she said. LeBlanc talked to the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation about that plan more than a year ago, and received support, she said.
“We want to work with the school because we are about education and children,” LeBlanc said. “Our motto is to teach in a fun and interactive way.”
In general, the village would be open for people to walk around and look, like West Baden’s domed hotel. The little shops will not be operating, but people can come see them.
“It will be like a living prop,” LeBlanc said. “So you’re only talking about a few people, plus the people who would stay in the castle, for the hotel part.”
The neighbors also do not understand why the organizers want to obtain a nonprofit status.
“Someone is going to make a lot of money off that,” Matheis said. “Why wouldn’t they at least pay property taxes on that and help out the rural area here?”
Hasenour said the same.
“We all pay our share of property taxes,” Hasenour said. “The school district here needs money. And they want to be here tax free?
“If they don’t want to pay property taxes, then we don’t want them here. We don’t need freeloaders up here.”
Taxes would be paid, LeBlanc said. The nonprofit effort is to qualify for corporate donations to pay for the land, she said.
“But the for-profit is going to pay for everything, including the infrastructure and the fair,” she said. “There is going to a lot of taxes when all is said and done.”
The neighbor’s biggest concern is that the village will bring extra people and vehicles to the area.
“That’s a general feeling,” Matheis said. “That (development) will make too many changes to people’s way of life. We’re not 100 percent behind that.”
Hasenour added: “We don’t need all that traffic here in this farming area. If Ferdinand is happy with them, let them stay in Ferdinand.”
LeBlanc said that the organizers would like to talk to the neighbors who have concerns, to explain the project to them and, she hopes, ease their fears.
They are willing to set up a town-hall-style meeting, LeBlanc said, if the neighbors would be willing to attend. She said that the organizers can also be reached at 812-556-0256, if the neighbors would like to speak with them directly.
“We want to be good neighbors. We don’t want to be bad neighbors at all,” LeBlanc said. “We want to add to the neighborhood. We don’t want to detract.”
Additional artistic renderings of the village are below:
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