Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Apply consistent approach to town homes

December 6, 2001

Less than six months ago, Mary Ann Stewart approached the Eudora Planning Commission and City Council to request a rezoning of her northwest Eudora property from single-family residential to multi-family. At those meetings, concerned neighbors armed with a petition opposed the rezoning. The neighbors argued that the location was inappropriate for duplexes and that traffic would increase to an unsafe and intolerable level. They also argued rezoning would decrease nearby property values. As a result, both the planning commission and city council overwhelmingly rejected the rezoning.

Now, the Hoover/Wilson development is asking the city to add "town homes" next to the growing and exclusively single-family Prairie Estates development.

I question what makes the Hoover/Wilson property more desirable for multi-family than the Stewart site. In this case, I also think the term town house is a "politically correct" of saying duplex or rental. The developers can say they are going to sell the town homes to homebuyers, but history proves they mostly become rentals.

If the goal is for Eudora to reflect a rental community to the Kansas Highway 10 traffic, the "manufactured housing" development on K-10 and Winchester Road would also be a valuable addition. Whispering Meadows would add more desirable single-family home development, but it and required construction of 14th Street are stalled. If the Whispering Meadows development remains in limbo, will the Hoover/Wilson team be forced to finish 14th Street before issuing building permits?

It doesn't make sense to add 19 town homes, 38 units, and at a minimum 76 more vehicles to the already overcrowded Peach and 13th streets. Living near the Chestnut and 13th intersection, I see more than enough traffic from the homes being built in the last phase of Prairie Estates to consider moving. Now, the Hoover/Wilson team wants to increase traffic at the exit the main exit with the construction of 14th Street halted. Every time I drive down the existing 14th Street next to C& S Market, I feel like I have just driven over three blocks of railroad tracks. When traffic was added with the approval of other development, there has been a promise of street improvements. The result has been a patch job or two.

In my opinion, a traffic count needs to be conducted on the 14th and Church streets intersection. Upgrades to the unimproved, major intersection are long overdue. More than 90 percent of my neighbors have children that play along the sidewalk or tool along on their roller blades and scooters. It is scary enough now to watch drivers speed on 13th Street, barely missing the kids on their bikes.

The Hoover/Wilson plan would have the development tie into the Whispering Meadows sanitary sewer, which was never finished or inspected. Therefore, there is no lift station with which to connect. Will the increase in storm water runoff be considered, meaning will a detention pond be required as in the past few developments (Whispering Meadows, Winchester Estates and Wakarusa Ridge Estates)? Or, will we revert to old days where there has been no consistency in the requirements? Higher density increases impervious surfaces, resulting in higher storm water runoff. The existing 13th Street culverts couldn't handle the present runoff without the newly unfinished detention basin from the Whispering Meadows development.

A possible solution to this controversy is a horizon plan. Drive through the communities that have city administrators and city engineers on board and note recent growth. You probably won't find multi-family homes enclosed by single family homes (Main Street, Spruce Street, etc.). You probably notice an absence of single-family residents residing along unimproved main collector streets (Church Street, Winchester Road). And you probably won't find a business district with single-family homes next door (Main Street). That's because they have a plan of attack to allow their communities to develop attractively. They consider the future needs of the community and develop a long-term plan reflecting future zoning requirements. They try to determine where sanitary sewer relief lines should be routed, where water lines should be extended, where collector streets should be added, what existing streets need to be improved and where buffer zones between different districts should be. The "norm" is to see a transition zone between commercial to multi-family to single-family developments.

If Eudora has one of these plans, then why isn't the community aware of it, and why are we not trying to follow it? Eudora has outgrown the small town community atmosphere by adding a number of developments. I have heard many complaints from Eudora residents over the years about our perceived rental community persona, and how they would like to see future growth in the single-family area. In some aspects the Eudora growth has headed that way, in others it hasn't. If we want more single-family developments then why do we allow developers to jump back into the multi-family scheme? Do we really need more affordable housing, and are town homes really considered more affordable than that of a starter home?

Hopefully these issues and questions will cause neighbors and the community to get involved. I, too, am at fault for often being quiet. The council meeting is Monday, Dec. 10, and I hope my neighbors rally to discuss these issues.

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