A plan to build a 60-unit apartment complex in the grassy backyard of a church near the U.S. 250 Bypass earned a 4-1 vote Monday to move forward toward a final vote by City Council later this month.
The vote to rezone the land around Mount View Baptist Church followed the developer’s engineer showing Council a more extensive proffer statement, a set of promises, than presented to the Planning Commission in September.
“The revised proffer is much, much improved,” said Alex Ikefuna, the director of the city’s Office of Community Solutions.
Engineer Justin Shimp represents the church and two other developers, who are led by Craig Builders, a residential construction firm whose limited liability company has already purchased an empty lot adjoining the St. Clair Avenue-facing church property. In addition to existing houses, the site abuts three Bypass-fronting businesses: a Bank of America branch, Riverview Center shopping center and a redeveloping car wash long known as All-American.
Shimp has asserted that the development would facilitate walkability and provide needed housing supply in a city whose official housing policy urges infill. But many nearby residents — many citing the dangers of automobile congestion — are opposed. One neighbor participating electronically in Monday’s meeting branded the developer’s traffic study “a lie.”
During September’s discussion, a key concern voiced by several planning commissioners was affordability, and the four-commissioner majority then recommending the project’s denial seemed unimpressed by the developer’s promise to reserve seven units for below-average earners for a decade. The developer now promises to double that period to 20 years, to accept so-called Section 8 vouchers for those units, and to present a marketing plan to the Office of Community Solutions.
Despite voting to advance the plan, Councilor Michael Payne said that he wanted a longer affordability period and hinted that his continued approval was conditioned on such change. Councilor Lloyd Snook, who is also the mayor, suggested that making such change wouldn’t add much cost to the developer. Another Councilor, Sena Magill, repeatedly voiced her opposition to the proposal and declined to cite any conditions that could sway her; hers was the lone “no” vote.
One addition to the proffer list is the creation of 270 feet of sidewalk along adjacent River Vista Avenue and the building a fence to shield the development from adjacent backyards.
If approved, the proposed rezoning of the 3.4-acre property would allow a daycare center and up to 12 additional apartments close to the church, which plans to remain on the site.
Council’s vote Monday moves the matter to a required second and final reading on Dec. 19.
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