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Houses under construction!

These past few weeks have been quite busy.  There haven’t been any updates because we have all been scrambling to prepare for the activity this spring.  The first lot closings are occurring and house foundations are starting!  The initial house outlines have been staked on-site and seeing these stakes has helped demonstrate how truly deep the lakefront lots are.  These lots are designed for primary residences, so you can live, work, and play at the same location.  Imagining the lake yard spaces and how they will be outfitted is exciting!


House staking – March 2018

This progress also means that we have had a number of homes go the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) for review and initial approvals.  This process has raised a number of recurring questions that we will be addressing below.  Should you have any questions on specific items please don’t hesitate to reach out to the ACC:

  • What is the minimum square footage for houses in the Springs?  The minimum building footprint is 1,800 square feet.
  • After I sign the Purchase Agreement for an available lot, how long until I have to close on the lot? 6 months, then 18 months to start construction.
  • If I reserve a lot in a future section, how long do I have to decide if I want to actually commit and purchase?  You have until the lot is available for build-out.
  • Can I have a pool or patio in the Lake Yard?  Yes, as long as the pool is in-ground and the patio elements do not substantially impede the visibility of the lake for your neighbors.
  • Can I harvest the lake water for irrigation?  Yes, we encourage residents to use the lake for irrigation purposes.  For novel uses such as this we offer additional points.
  • Do you want the homes to all look the same?  Do we have flexibility in house style and outfitting?  We do not want all of the homes to appear the same.  We want and encourage variety and appropriate contrast between homes.  We highly encourage all home builders to arrange a meeting with the ACC prior to a formal application.  We want to discuss our planning and goals for the site.
  • What type of house can we build on the non-lakefront lots? Are we limited to a selection of builders?  The non-lakefront lots are similar to 85ft wide subdivision style lot.  They are slightly deeper than typical lots in our region.  You can build the house of your choosing and even select your builder.

Don’t forget to schedule your tour and see the site transform this spring!

Lot Configuration Comparison

Over the past couple weeks we have received quite a few follow-up questions to our post about the public lake band lot size comparison.  The exhibit from that post showed the entire Heron Lake site with the 300 additional residential lots that public lake sizing would have allowed on the site.  We have received requests to see a side by side comparison of the lot sizings used for that exhibit.  You can download a PDF version of that exhibit here.

The obvious difference is the overall size.  But when you dig deeper you’ll notice that the narrower lot also restricts the flexibility in house layout.  It is impossible to place an accessory structure and the space between the house and road becomes the only parking available.  The lake yard is so small that outdoor spaces are quite restricted.  This smaller lot was intended for short term visits to a bungalow or small cabin style house.  It was not intended for everyday use but more of a vacation house with intermittent stays.  These houses must typically be multi-level just to provide enough room for sleeping and support spaces.

Heron has focused on providing lot sizes that accommodate the lifestyle that the residents desire at Heron Lake.  With the greater flexibility of lot width and depth, houses can be designed with leeway to conform to the resident’s needs (side load garages, canted houses for best vistas, on-site storage, extensive outdoor lake yard space, etc.).  The site wide amenities and outdoor spaces will allow for a variety of uses and the residents will truly be able to live, work, and play at the same house.  Don’t forget to schedule your tour and see if the Heron community is a good fit for you!

Heron FAQ Updates

Over the past month the Rules and Restrictions for the Heron Lake PUD have been available for review.  We have received a couple common questions concerning the specific details of those documents.  The list below are the responses to those questions:

1 – Is the 200HP engine & 45MPH speed limit a fixed restriction?

These have been the most commonly asked questions.  The simple response is no, they are not outright restriction, they are guidelines that may be waived by Heron Property Management.  Being a private lake there must be some criteria by which HPM could restrict access and activities for the safety of those on the water.  For this purpose no boat may be launched without an ID issued by HPM, that is the prior written approval component.  So to have a watercraft on the lake requires HPM approval, there is no unrestricted or unevaluated access to the lake.

For example, if you have a boat that exceeds the guideline of 200HP, HPM would note that excess in our ID files and also that we had requested you pay special attention to your watercraft activities given the size of your engine.  Now go have a great time on the lake.  The same is true for the 45MPH speed limit, the overall safety of those boating is our primary concern.  And we can move that guideline in both directions.  We anticipate, given feedback, that there will be calm periods sporadically throughout the summer where motorized traffic will be prohibited to allow canoeing, kayaking, or other non-motorized activities to fully enjoy the lake.

In short, HPM retains the ability to enforce safe activities on the lake and will not allow unrestricted or unsupervised access to the lake.  We have published guidelines for safe operation and will give substantial leeway for residents to enjoy the water in their own fashion.  The Residents will have say in the uses that are allowed on the water, that is the beauty of a private lake.

2 – Does the marina allow for public access?  Are you selling boats?

No, the only people with access to the water are Residents at Heron Lake.  That would be landowners that are current in their assessments/fees/dues.  The marinas are essentially in-land docks to allow non-lakefront lots, and those that don’t want the hassle of dock placement, to have direct access to the water.  The northernmost marina will have seasonal maintenance services offered and we will have re-fueling options but do not intend to have outside sales or services offered.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and feedback!  We also really appreciate the response to the exhibit from last week that detailed the difference in sizing for traditional public lake lots and our development.  It is thought provoking to consider what might have been if this site had been developed during the bungalow era.  Don’t miss out on your chance to experience the site during the winter and schedule your tour!

What if? Heron Lake and public lake sizing comparison

This post covers some rather detailed analysis and contrast of lakefront properties in the Heron Lake PUD and the public lakeband.  For those of you that want the abbreviated version, read the next paragraph.  Those that want the details, continue below.

What would Heron be like if it had started as a public lake?

That is a common question on the tours, people wishing to contrast what they experience in the lakeband and what this new private lake concept will be.  We are asked that so often that we thought it’d be interesting to actually represent what we had so purposefully avoided in our planning, so we laid out Heron Lake as if it had started in the “bungalow era.” And presto, a lake that looks suspiciously like all of the other public lakes to our north and west.  Without the master planning and lot sizes that matched the current lifestyle needs, this incredible site has now been burdened with an additional 332 residential lots.  For perspective the PUD itself only has 179 residential lots total.  Notice the lakefront lot size difference, this will help with understanding the true size of Heron Lake compared to the public lakeband.

You can download a PDF form of the graphic above here.

What happened?

There are now 248 lots on water, instead of the 83 lots in the PUD filing, averaging around 60 feet of shoreline per 50 foot lot, which is the lakeband average.  For comparison the PUD lake lot average is around 115 feet of shoreline per 85 foot lot.  This increase in density is also seen off-lake with the remaining off-lake ground being gobbled up piecemeal and now looks like a patchwork quilt of various developer visions.  This tangled web of housing results in 511 lots total, instead of the 179 lots in the PUD, and roughly adds one more house per acre on the entire site!  Including the water!  We have lost the commercial benefits of proximity and traffic flow patterns, with those locations now an afterthought and spread amongst the residential housing.  The island is now hidden under 10 lots instead of parkspace and a four season rental pavilion.  There are no trails snaking around and through the natural elements of the site, so there is no ready access to the 65 acre Cedar Creek park corridor or Island.  Given the current lakefront situation, there probably aren’t even sidewalks along the road, which is winding and unsafe for sharing access to pedestrian, biking, etc.  It was actually rather depressing to see Heron Lake with this packed-in, stacked-up layout given the amount of time and effort expended to avoid this type of build-out.  But one positive thing stood out to us, the lake size was more readily apparent since the lot sizes were now comparable and relatable to those on the public lakeband.  For those that have been having issues visualizing and comparing the true size of the lake, this exhibit may help you immensely.

What is typical lakefront sizing?

If you’ve been on a tour then you know that we discuss the tens of thousands lake properties to the north and west.  This region is typically called the lakeband and is generally limited to Steuben, LaGrange, Noble, and Kosciusko Counties.  During our due diligence and planning we performed extensive studies on the typical lakefront lots and what was required for that lifestyle.  What we found provided the basis for our planning and hopefully helped us avoid the pitfalls of current public lakefront issues.  Those issues can be: elongated house spaces due to lot width, need to store items off-lot, lack of garage space for cars, no appreciable front or lake yard,  sight picture encroaching from adjoining lots, no sidewalks or pedestrian options, etc.

These issues should come as no small surprise as the overwhelming majority of public lake lots were sized and designed in another era and for much different clientele.  Probably the best phrase that sums up that previous planning is “bungalow-style intermittent vacation get-aways”.  Those lots, averaging 50 feet wide and 110 feet deep, are typically much too small for our current lifestyle and housing expectations.  Since starter home lots in subdivisions are now 65 feet by 125ft it is easy to see the problems.  There is no space for garage facilities (either side-to-side or in depth of lot) and the lot itself does not allow any meaningful outdoor spaces.  The bungalow planning was not community focused so there is virtually no sidewalk inter connectivity or park spaces for pedestrian enjoyment.  The bungalow focus was solely putting the smallest possible house on the smallest possible lot at the smallest possible expense.  It was not intended to support day-in, day-out living.

But my public lake lot isn’t the typical size?

You are in the group that lies outside the average.  When you have tens of thousand of lots, there will be those that lie outside the normal range.  Generally speaking a 50 foot by 110 foot criteria would encompass over 65% of the public lakefront lots.  There are 10% smaller than 50 x 110 and 25% that are larger.  It is a telling statistic that the larger lots are much more desirable and are still usually shallower in depth than the average Heron lake lot.  The usability of the lakefront is also a key component as the public lakes are virtually all marsh based and have extensive portions of shoreline that is un-usable. The proximity to easy travel routes is also critical.  Heron Lake is around 20-25 minutes time to downtown Fort Wayne.  This is easily half of the average travel time across the lakeband.

What lifestyle does Heron support?

Heron Lake is intended to be a primary residence location where the residents can Live, Work, and Play (LWP).  This one location LWP focus allows for better time efficiency and overall lifestyle enjoyment, as shifting from Live to Work and then Play can be made at a moments notice.  The lots are sized to accommodate accessory structures and house sizes that reflect the needs of the owners.  The parkspaces, trails, and other sitewide amenities provide the framework to enjoy and experience the site in a manner of your choosing, not what you are left with or have to make do with.  The commercial options on-site should help with daily and weekly needs, hopefully limiting those last minute runs that can consume so much time.  And last but not least is the lake itself, this all sports private lake will be the lifestyle focus for many.  We are excited about the activities that everyone will be doing!

We hope you enjoyed the exhibit and discussion above.  It is intriguing (to us at least) to think about what Heron Lake would have looked like during the bungalow era.  The many families that still enjoy the secondary residence aspect of lake life must contend with those limitations on a weekly basis.  But the draw of the water and enjoying nature outweighs those problems.  And for many it is also a family tradition and opportunity to spend time together.  Take advantage of those moments as you can.    Hopefully Heron Lake will enable our residents to focus more on the enjoyment and leave some of those headaches behind.   Don’t forget to schedule your tour and experience Heron Lake first hand!

Recorded plats and covenants available!

End of year greetings to everyone!  We were able to get both plats for Graber Commons and The Springs – Section 1 recorded this past week.

The Graber Commons is our first phase of commercial and comprise 3 individual lots at the intersection of CR11A and CR427, city utilities and no on-site stormwater needs.  The northern most lot is also dual tenant capable.

The Springs is our first phase of residential and comprises 20 lakefront and 13 non-lakefront lots.  There are 12 lakefront lots still available for reservation, min 75ft width at the building line – 185ft deep.  Keep a lookout for the model homes starting soon!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information or schedule your tour.  We hope that you all have a Happy New Years!

Island view in winter

Links for  download:

Heron Lake Planned Unit Development (PUD):

PUD Covenants

The Springs – Section 1:

Secondary Plat

Graber Commons:

Secondary Plat




Draft Lake Use Rules & Other Community Documents Available

Another Christmas season is practically behind us already!  This fall and early winter has seen a great number of changes to the Heron Lake site and we are now at a point to share draft versions of our Lake Use Rules, Architectural Control, and Score Card Companion documents.  If you have taken a tour then you have already seen versions of these documents over the past couple of months.  We have spent a great amount of time refining them to reflect the vision that we have for the Heron Lake site, both for now and for the future.

Please take your time below to review and get a feel for our overall planning.  We look forward to comments and feedback.  Everyone at Heron Development hopes that you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As you review these documents, we would highly recommend that you also look at the Heron Lake Planned Unit Development (PUD) Ordinance that was ratified earlier this year by the City of Auburn.  That Ordinance provides the basis for planning and authority of the Heron Lake PUD.  You can download the Ordinance here.  The accompanying Primary Plat can be downloaded here.

Heron Lake PUD Covenants

You can download the pdf form of the DRAFT Covenants and Restrictions for the PUD at the link: Heron PUD Covenants – DRAFT

The Heron Lake PUD will have one set of overall Covenants and Restrictions, this provides the basis and authority for all of the documents listed below.  Incorporating both residential and commercial elements, these Covenants are essential for overall community planning.

Lake Use Rules

You can download the pdf form of the DRAFT Lake Use Rules at the link: Lake Use Rules – DRAFT

The Lake Use Rules are intended to: assure personal and group safety, provide consideration for the usage rights of all Residents, and to provide the means for all reasonable and appropriate maintenance of Developer property and equipment.

That is quite a mouthful above, but essentially the Lake Use Rules are written in a manner that all Residents will be able to enjoy the Lake and other amenities in a fashion that fits their lifestyle and community goals.

Architectural Control Committee – Guidelines & Improvement Review Process

You can download the pdf form of the DRAFT ACC Guidelines at the link: ACC Guidelines – DRAFT

The ACC Guideline are intended to provide a basis for dialogue between the ACC Committee and Owners/Builder and provide transparency in the review process.  An ongoing exchange of concepts and potential solutions is viewed as the desirable method for addressing the requirements of each stage of the Improvement Review Process.

In short, we encourage Owners and Builders to start their dialogue with the ACC at an early stage.  The goal is a greatly simplified approval process and discussion of items that really have an impact on the community and the Owner’s long term maintenance of their house.

Score Card Companion

You can download the pdf form of the DRAFT Score Card Companion at the link: Score Card Companion – DRAFT

The Score Card Companion is the guidebook for our points based review process.  The ultimate goal is establish a dialogue about key points in house construction that have substantial impact on short and long term costs, maintenance issues, and community impacts.  With this guidebook it is possible to review your own plans and come up with a rough score.  Once a house application exceeds the points requirements, then it is an approved application.  The goal is a simple method to offer incentives, based on the points score, to reduce your annual assessments and fees for a ten year window and potentially lower the minimum square footage required for your house.

Development Definitions

You can download the pdf form of the DRAFT Definitions at the link: Definitions – DRAFT

All of the inherent definitions for key terms are contained in this document.  It is a companion document for all of the files listed above.

The Springs asphalt is in!

The base layer of asphalt was placed today in the Springs!  With homes starting soon, this entry off of CR 427 will change rapidly.  The full roundabout entry will be placed after the majority of construction traffic for the Estates is completed this spring.  Keep an eye out for the first house foundations!

North portion of CR427 entry.

Springs asphalt placement

The Springs curbs are in!

Today the curb was placed for the Springs – Section 1.  It is getting much easier to visualize the dedicated golf cart lane on the roadway.  We are also excited about the houses that will start construction in December with outfitting over the winter months!

Springs curb construction

The asphalt should be in place next week and those house foundations will start to be placed shortly after that.  Don’t forget to schedule your tour!

Spring entry, curb and concrete trucks

Springs roadway nears completion!

These past couple of weeks have been a flurry of site activity.  Watching the progress of waterline and sanitary sewer being placed has been exciting but seeing the new CR427 entry and roadway foundation construction has been invigorating.  Seeing the planning come into shape has reminded us that while the Heron Lake community will benefit from the incredible natural setting  the access around the lake and other amenities will be completely unlike the public lakes to the north and west.  Standing on the site and envisioning the trail locations, golf cart lane on roadway, parkspaces, and sidewalks truly shows how different the lake lifestyle will feel here.  The public lakeband in general does not have those pedestrian connections and other amenities.

Springs CR427 entry being constructed

The Springs lots should be available for transfer by mid December, with a full roll out of Phase 1 lots occurring in late spring 2018.  There are 20 lakefront and 13 nonlakefront lots in Springs Section 1.  Look for updates soon as asphalt and curb are being placed and don’t forget to schedule your tour!  Seeing the site throughout the winter months can be quite breathtaking and serene.

Springs Section 1 roadway construction

Heron Lake Carrying Capacity

Hello Everyone!

A slightly different web update: Work continues at an incredible rate on the Springs and watching them laying waterline this week has been fascinating.  We could talk about the progress on the site all day long but this update is a little different than our other posts.  I wanted to provide some additional information on our lake planning, specifically our all-sports status and intended uses.  I receive many questions on tours asking for comparisons in experiences on public versus private lakes.  As I spend all my time focusing on our lake planning and working with this information in my head, I sometimes forget that not everyone likes numbers as much as I do.  So in three paragraphs, hopefully you will have a good comparison of typical public vs private lake experiences.  Of course, after reading through the paragraphs below, you will probably won’t want to see numbers for a while!

Where are the pretty pictures in this post?  We spent literally years doing due diligence and research on lakes to incorporate ideas and constraints on our planning.  In preparing for this mailing update I found a couple older renderings that we had generated to assist with our planning, download full resolution at the link below, that is the pretty picture for this update as well as useful exhibit.

Heron Planning Exhibit – Dock Spacing & Boat Density

Heron Planning Exhibit – Dock Spacing & Boat Density

It shows the overall Heron Lake site with similar sized houses on every lot and counting the townhouses, there are 186 residences shown.  Those are the only people that would have access to the water.  There will be 90 lakefront houses and 96 non-lakefront lots (including townhouses and lofts).  This exhibit should also be interesting because we placed boats and docks for a sense of scale and for planning on how large we would allow the docks.  Not counting the docked boats, there are 19 boats (25 footers) shown on the water.  That number is significant and here is why:

What is “typical” shoreline and lakes within the public lakeband?  Thankfully our years of due diligence allowed us to compile information on over 30,000 residences on public lakes in Steuben, Lagrange, Noble, and Kosciusko Counties (12,000 of which are secondary residences).  Chances are if you live on public lakeshore your lot averages 50ft in width and 110ft deep (Heron averages 85ft x 200ft).  Your desirable lake, even with all of the swampy shoreline and unusable areas, averages 62ft of shoreline per lakeshore residence (Heron averages 160ft [not counting island shoreline]).  Heron Lake and the desirable lakes within the lakeband all have around an average of 1.2 lake acres per lakeshore residence.  But Heron also differs greatly on boats launched per lake acre because Heron doesn’t have a public landing.  Busy days on the desirable lakes can result in more boats launched than total residences on water.  Less desirable lakes will have an even higher density of shoreline residences.

So what was the deal with 19 boats shown on the exhibit?  We utilized and applied lake use studies from over 100 private and public lakes across the nation to determine what the optimal uses of our lake would be, given the unique private lake status, community focus and unique amenities for our region.  Those 19 boats represent the statistical maximum number of boats that are projected to be on Heron Lake at a maximum-use time.  And the studies indicate that this “rush hour” will last for around 1 hour.  On average there should be 3-4 boats on the lake at any given daylight hour.  This represents 20% of the typical boats per acre on public water.

So can we ski, fish, cruise, etc on Heron Lake?  I would certainly hope so since our lake has much better ratios (typically almost double) than the public lakes to the north and west.  One must remember that a vast majority of the 30,000 lake residences are on a public water that has worse lake use and area ratios than Heron.  Yet there is a great demand for those lake lots and the lifestyle is enjoyed by many.  Heron Lake can also accommodate uses that are not allowed on the public lakeband, such as reserving a basin for special events.  The property management company will ensure that Heron Lake will be enjoyed by the residents for all of their specific uses for many many years to come!

I hope you were at least interested enough in the numbers to make it this far!  Thank you for your interest in the Heron Lake project and your valuable feedback as we proceed with developing a truly unique lakefront community.

Don’t forget to schedule your tour and experience the lake firsthand!

My best,

Stephen Brown

Managing Partner

Heron Development LLC