The Urban County Planning Commission turned down a zoning change Thursday for a residential development of 27 homes off Saybrook Road.
The commission voted 7-1 against the zoning change.
This is the second time in 22 years that a development has been pulled on the 10.4-acre tract that sits between Robinwood and Monticello subdivisions. The plot of land was once a private septic sewage treatment plant. In 1993, Ball Homes had proposed building 22 houses there, but the project was pulled because an environmental assessment raised red flags, neighbors say.
Traci Wade, a senior city planner, told the planning commission during Thursday's meeting the planning staff didn't support the zone change because the developers, Lex Properties LLC, wanted to change the zone from agricultural urban to a neighborhood residential, or R-3, zone. The R-3 zone allows for more density. More houses can be built closer together and closer to the street. The surrounding neighborhoods all were zoned R-1, a designation that requires more setbacks and more space between houses. The planning staff also expressed concern that the development plan called for subdividing the floodplain. That would mean that individual property owners, rather than a neighborhood association, would be responsible for maintaining land in the flood zone.
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Wade said the city also had concerns about potential environmental problems on the site because of the former sewage treatment plant. Those concerns were alleviated after the developer obtained an environmental assessment that showed no potential problems.
Otto Piechowski, who lives next door to the property, raised questions about that environmental assessment. There was an electrical transformer on the site at one time, and the assessment didn't show where that electrical transformer had been. Piechowski said the environment assessment did show contamination on the site.
More than 400 residents of Monticello and Robinwood had signed petitions against the proposed development.
In addition to the environmental concerns, neighbors raised questions about increased traffic. The subdivision will have only one access in and out, Saybrook Road.
Richard Murphy, a lawyer for Lex Properties, told the commission there is no other entrance and exit from the property because of the way the surrounding subdivisions are configured.
Murphy said the developer would agree to start a homeowners association to take care of the property in the flood zone. Murphy said the developer had to ask for an R-3 zone because of the odd shape of the lot and the flood zone going through the property. They need more flexibility on the setback requirements, which R-3 allows and R-1 does not, Murphy said.
The planning commission's decision is not final. It must be approved by the Urban County Council.