BZA Sand Hill Farm Special Use Meeting

As my loyal lurkers know, I got run around by the Town trying to set up a special BZA meeting to hear a Special Use request on my property.  I really appreciate Dan Adams and the other BZA members making the effort to be there for me!  (Jerry Chavez with MCEDC had also called some favors for a abatement hearing at the County Council as well.  That got cancelled.)  But…  That was before the Town Council chose to pull the plug on the project for 2015.

Jonathan Leist, Town Manager, was kind enough to suggest that all I needed to do was submit a letter withdrawing the application and he would appear at the meeting for me.  I didn’t think that was appropriate since I had made the request.  I attended the regularly scheduled BZA meeting on the 15th to thank the BZA members for the indulgence, apologize for the withdrawal and ask whether they wanted to have the special meeting on the 22nd.  After some discussion it was agreed that the meeting should proceed since it had been advertised.  I agreed to attend and formally withdraw my request and answer any questions posed by the public.

There were 8 people there in the audience on the 22nd which made me nervous going in.  It’s unusual for people to come out in support, so I pretty much assumed they were best case coming to hear about it  or not the best, coming to protest it.  Based on the comments, it was a little of both.  The meeting opened and I withdrew the request, but said I was there to answer any questions.  This is paraphrasing at best, but here’s what was asked and answered:

Example of apartments buildings put up by Equal Development, the developer considering working with Culver on Entry Level Housing

Will there be apartments?  Yes, that is why I made the request to the BZA.  Current zoning, S-1, allows single family housing, but apartments are only allowed with a Special Use variance.

Who would manage the apartments and who would make sure they didn’t deteriorate?  Under the scenario currently being pursued, the apartments would be subsidized through a government program and the developer would be responsible for the apartment management.  There would be State inspections to make sure they would be maintained.  (I’ve included a picture of a previous complex completed by the developer to the right and there are more pictures in a previous post here.)

Would you pursue annexation?  I would not pursue annexation, but I would require municipal water and sewer for the apartment project and I would assume the Town would want to annex the property at some time in return for this service.  Jonathan Leist also responded:  The Town would want to annex the property since it is to be served by Town utilities.

How many apartment units are planned?  Initially the discussions are for 24-48 units, but there could be more depending on demand.  There will also be single family homes in the development as well.

There was quite a bit of further “comment” that the apartments would deteriorate over time.

There were “comments” from one adjacent business that they would fight any annexation as it would end them.  It was unclear if the annexation they would fight would be annexation of their property, my property or both…  Meanwhile another business looked at it as an opportunity.  (Currently my property is contiguous to Town, so if I request annexation it’s unlikely that any protests would matter.)

Eventually Dan ended the meetings as the concerns became repetitive and the points were somewhat moot considering that the BZA will probably not be involved with any of the decisions.  Since plans are back up for reconsideration between now and next November, any specifics are subject to change anyway.

It was good to have the discussion and hear what some of the concerns are.  Better to be prepared so we can try and address them positively before we go before the various boards and commissions again.  I still think the project is positive for the Town and I don’t feel there is a downside for the neighborhood.  I think after hearing some of the discussion, some of those that came for information probably agree.  Others may not be so easily swayed.  (Any new lurkers that are interested in reading what I’ve said on these subjects in the past can click the Sand Hill Farm tag (top of post) to see thoughts about the property or the Affordable housing tag to see discussions on affordable housing.  For those of you on Twitter, if you follow @eccculver I tweet out a notice of new blog posts.



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