Archive for Thursday, November 20, 2003

High-density living undesirable, planners say

November 20, 2003

The arguments about whether developers should be allowed to add five single-family homes and 52 duplexes to a Shadow Ridge addition came down to city planners views on the merits -- or detriments -- of high-density living in Eudora. The majority of the Eudora Planning Commission took the later opinion before sending Landplan Engineering's changes to a planned new neighborhood to Eudora City Council .
"I think the way it was would have been beautiful," said Planning Commission member Rod Moyer.
Phil Strubel of Landplan said changes the Planning Commission wanted, such as employing a variety of housing styles for the duplexes, led developers to create a neighborhood they said would fill a significant market void. That meant creating a neighborhood where landscaping upkeep was taken care of, as were other services like snow removal.
Strubel said such a neighborhood would likely have more covenants than on its single-family counterparts.
"These are not your renter people," he said. "It's more or less a gated community."
Creating such a neighborhood didn't "pencil out" with lower density, Strubel said. Part of that included the fact the neighborhood would overlap with an undocumented floodplain. To cover the costs associated with that, Strubel said, Landplan had to increase the number of lots.
Concerns from neighbors included displeasure with not only multi-family housing but also with the increased traffic and other complications of a high-density neighborhood. But high-density wasn't always a bad thing, said Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen.Chairman Kurt von Achen.
"We need some more dense living around Eudora," he said. "I think we're getting a little elitist about what we're doing. You live in a city, you've got more population."
However, von Achen said he liked the developer's initial and less-dense proposal better. Commission member Richard Campbell said a new kind of neighborhood sounded like a good idea, but it still resulted in an "awful lot of townhomes."
Neighbor Mitch Johnson, who spoke during the public hearing, echoed Commission member Rose House's comments earlier in the evening that Landplan continued seeking changes on its neighborhoods.
"It seems like they're out again making changes," Johnson said. "This is very hard to see whether the plan will work in the development and the neighborhood."
Strubel said the city contributed to the changes by forcing developers to show plans before they were certain how they would want to use the space. He said developers were hesitant to spend a lot of time and money outlining specifics for a neighborhood that may not get approval.
"Requirements make them do 'make believe' work before they know what they're going to do," Strubel said.
But Planning Commission member Duane Gentleman said Eudorans moved into nearby developments with the idea that what had been approved was what they'd be living next door to.
"This project keeps changing," he said.

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