The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Neighbors prevail again on another developer’s attempt to build replacement housing around Ellis Park and Golf Course

In City Hall on June 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

City Hall and the state of Iowa have been more than willing to throw financial incentives at proposals to build housing to replace some of what was lost in the June 2008 flood.

One problem, though, is that most of the ideas are for property around Ellis Park and the Ellis Golf Course, and for now, neighbors living there have succeeded in scuttling the proposed housing ideas.

It happened again Tuesday, when the City Planning Commission, on a 4-3 vote, rejected a development proposal by High Co. to build 81 homes on Zika Avenue NW across Zika Avenue NW from the Ellis Golf Course.

Vern Zakostelecky, the city’s land development coordinator, on Wednesday said the commission majority, in rejecting the High Co. proposal, had concerns about water runoff from the development site and about the proposed number of homes on it.

Back in 2007, a different development proposal for the site won City Council approval on an 8-1 vote.
However, that development, called Somnolent Grove, proposed building 67 cottage-style homes on what had been a 25-acre farm. High Co.’s Sugar Creek proposal calls for 81 homes.

The City Planning Commission decision on Tuesday is just a recommendation not a final verdict. The City Council has the final say on the proposal should Darryl High, president/CEO of High Co., push on to the council despite the Planning Commission decision.

At the council level, High also will need to win council support for financial incentives he says are needed to build the development.

High’s Sugar Creek proposal earlier won backing from the city’s Replacement Housing Task Force, which reviews proposals in need of government financial incentives and which are designed to replace housing lost in the June 2008 flood.

The task force approved two earlier proposals near Ellis Park and the Ellis Golf Course, but neither has come to pass. Both were opposed by neighbors. One developer has given up on his idea for a project on the city’s former golf course chipping area and a second developer has put his project on hold nearby on O Avenue NW.

Yet another proposal – a 60-unit apartment complex called Ellis Preserve – surfaced a week ago. The city’s housing task force told the developer to go talk to neighbors before the task force invests more time in the proposal.

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