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Jul
07
2020
Village Council

Village Council — Apartment rezoning approved

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After months of public discussion, Council approved the rezoning of a 1.8-acre parcel between East Herman and Marshall streets to accommodate a 54-unit affordable senior apartment building.

In a 4–0 vote on the second reading of the ordinance, Council changed the zoning of the property, owned by Home, Inc., from residential R-B to planned unit development, or PUD, zoning, a designation that allows for greater density, among other variations. Council member Kineta Sanford, who works at Home, Inc., recused herself from the vote.

The proposed building will be 56,000 square feet and four stories and accommodate those aged 55 and older whose annual income is in the range of $27,600 for a single person or $31,560 for a couple, with the possibility of some units for those bringing in a slightly higher income.

Village Manager Patti Bates called the action “the final step in the process” and noted that the new zoning would take effect in 30 days, just in time for Home, Inc. to apply for federal tax credits for the $9 million project.

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If Home, Inc. receives funding, it will return to the Village with a final plan, which will first be reviewed by Planning Commission. Home, Inc. anticipates it will find out in May whether or not tax credits will be awarded, according to the nonprofit this week.

Two neighbors voiced their opposition to the project ahead of the vote. Hans Jacobson criticized the process, noting that to Council, “zoning is seen as a barrier to overcome rather than as a way to protect citizens.” He added that the project is inconsistent with the neighborhood and suggested that single-family homes would be a better fit for the site.

“We do need new housing but not a monolithic senior warehouse whose size is driven by funding sources, not our needs,” Jacobson said. “I don’t think you should build it just because you can.”

Lauren Miller charged Council with not doing due diligence but instead pushing through the plan ahead of a Home, Inc. funding deadline. She also singled out the building’s size as a concern.

Former Council member Judith Hempfling spoke from the floor in support of the project, arguing it has been needed for generations. She also defended the PUD process, which she said has been used by other local entities.

Sharon Mohler and Christine Roberts also expressed their support for the project. Mohler identified herself as a low-income senior who is hoping not to have to leave town in her elder years. Roberts said the higher density of the proposed structure is a good environmental building choice.

Council members Marianne MacQueen and Lisa Kreeger spoke before casting their votes. MacQueen hailed development partner St. Mary of Dayton, affirmed the need in the community for the project, and urged action in the face of some opposition. 

“If we continue to go for the ideal that meets 100 percent of the people’s wishes, what we get is what we have: nothing,” she said. “This is a good project. We cannot do better than this, truly.”

Kreeger said that while the size of the structure on the lot initially gave her pause, the fact that Village infrastructure could accommodate the building with some needed upgrades convinced her to vote in favor of the rezoning. 

“If this project puts a fire under our village to take care of needed infrastructure, that’s a good thing,” she said.

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