Archive for Thursday, December 11, 2003

Townhomes limited

City planners reject request to add more townhomes

December 11, 2003

A Shadow Ridge addition is unlikely to get any more than the seven townhomes originally planned for the expansion that includes duplex housing and a commercial center at Church and 28th streets. The Eudora Planning Commission discussed the hot issue again Dec. 3 and re-opened the dialogue with Shadow Ridge neighbors who didn't want the additional townhomes that would abutt to their houses.

The commission voted to recommend the Eudora City Council deny approval of the additional units.

Adding to the Planning Commission's decision to recommend denial of Landplan Engineering's proposal for more units was the fact many neighbors said they weren't aware of any plans for townhomes near their property, even those already approved.

Shadow Ridge resident Tom Tucker presented the Commission with a copy of a Feb. 2003 map from the builder he said didn't show townhomes.

"Why can't single-family homes be built on these lots?" Tucker said. "They're trying to make Shadow Ridge look like west Lawrence."

This frustrated members of the Commission, who said the idea behind approving the townhomes previously was so those building and purchasing houses nearby would be aware of them before the fact rather than having developers propose them after homes were built and purchased."It's really disturbing that somewhere this thing fell through," said Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen.

However, von Achen said despite what homeowners were allegedly told -- or not told -- about townhome plans, documentation of the approved commercial development and seven townhomes was available for homeowners "to find out what they're spending their life's savings on."

Neighbors who spoke out said knowing townhomes would be built nearby would have changed their opinion about where and whether to purchase, but some said the previously-approved seven units would be preferable to the developers' desired additional 14 units.

One benefit of the 14-townhome plan, however, was that the townhomes would be contained to a cul-de-sac rather than on a through street, which some feared would encourage cut-through traffic between Church and 28th streets, especially if a stoplight were installed. City Administrator Mike Yanez said a study of Church Street and Douglas County 1061 suggested a stoplight in the future.

Developers met with neighbors to discuss the proposal, and Angie Solberg of Landplan said they came to no resolution, although Landplan proposed fencing to separate the two different types of neighborhoods. Suggestions from the Commission to replace the proposed added townhomes with single-family homes was undesirable because that was a recipe for rental rather than owner-occupied houses, Landplan's Phil Struble said.

Commission member Richard Campbell expressed concern with statistics that showed 58 percent of homes in Eudora were owner-occupied.

"I for one don't want Eudora to become a rental community," Campbell said. "We want it to be a home-type community."

By recommending denial of the additional townhomes and reconfigured development, von Achen said it could be hoped developers would approach the city with a more-desirable plan anyway.

  • The Commission also recommended denying changes to another Shadow Ridge development that would have both single-family houses and townhomes, citing a lack of need for more multi-family housing in Eudora and the fact the plan loses the Commission's coveted greenspace by increasing density.

When the city asked developers to ensure townhomes didn't come out looking "cookie-cutter," developers came up with a plan that would create a community of townhomes where landscaping upkeep and the like were part of the package.

"They are not always a buffer -- they are a lifestyle," Struble said. "This is not a buffer for us. This is a neighborhood."

Although pedestrian walkways would be included, Commissioners expressed concern with the amount of greenspace lost in reconfiguring the development. Moreover, if the plan were approved it would require a process through the federal government to build on an undocumented floodplain.

The Commission had a request to talk about and raise concerns about flooding, but the issue had already been addressed in a public hearing at a previous meeting, of which neighbors at the meeting said they weren't aware. City planning consultant Sean Ackerson said engineers were addressing drainage issues.

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