Townhomes don’t garner enough support
It looked like an upscale townhome development in south Eudora may have been given the go-ahead Monday night. But not enough Eudora City Council members agreed to override the Eudora Planning Commission's recommendation to nix the newest Shadow Ridge proposal.
Four Council yes votes were required to approve the preliminary development plan because the Planning Commission earlier this month recommended denial of the 40-acre house and townhome development south of 28th Street. Only three Council members voted in favor of the plan.
The project now goes back to the Planning Commission with the Council's request to define what Commissioners want from developers in terms of green space, an issue that has come up again and again.
A previous incarnation of the project offered a vast amount of green space in a flood plain, which engineers determined could be filled. Developers are going through the Federal Emergency Management Administration to get the go-ahead.
Phil Struble of Landplan Engineering reminded the Council that even though the amount of green space offered in the previous plan was larger than other city parks, the flood plain would be open space, not a working park. The current proposal offered a neighborhood Struble said.
"To me, the green space is more attractive," said Council member Scott Hopson, who added that he trusted the Planning Commission's opinion. "It's more appealing to people."
Struble said he was confused by what he'd heard from city leaders. It appeared the plan had been denied before because of concerns about filling in a flood plain. But now that city leaders knew the approval was ultimately up to FEMA and that they had confidence in engineers' abilities to overcome any possible problems, Struble was dismayed the plan had been recommended for denial.
Moreover, he said the city's planning and engineering staffs found the project was in compliance with city standards. However, some on the Council cited a lack of public support for the project.
Council member Tom Pyle said he was conflicted on the issue, especially because he was a proponent of growth and saw the economic benefits of bringing people to Eudora.
Developers and supporters of the project saw the townhome portion of the development as a new living style being brought to Eudora. The townhomes call for varied architectural styles and offer services like snow removal and lawn services that could appeal to young professionals or families.
"You're going to provide new, affordable housing in Eudora," said developer John McGrew. "It would be a lot more young families who could live here."
It was an idea, Struble said, that had worked in other communities.
"It's different than anything you've seen in Eudora," Struble said. "(We want) to really show the city these kind of projects work."
Council member Dan Gregg agreed.
"I feel the city of Eudora needs this," Gregg said. "And if it doesn't, let the market decide."
Although the current plan had two less townhomes than before, filling in the flood plain meant adding more single-family homes, which Struble said would help developers pay the cost of 28th Street. He said the ball was already rolling for improving the roadway, with an estimated start date this summer.