Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

TOP STORY >>Residents stonewall two plans

Leader staff writer

A slew of Stonewall and Foxwood subdivision residents stalled two proposed Jacksonville developments for at least a month.
The residents were at the Jacksonville Planning Commission meeting Monday night fighting a rezoning request that would allow development of a garden-home subdivision and sketch plats for a single- and multi-family development off Edinburgh Road.

“Don’t go goofing up my neighborhood,” said John Williams, a Jacksonville police officer. “This goes in and a lot of us are moving. I understand it’s about the developer making money, and he has that right, but don’t stick the knife in my back to make your dollar,” Williams said.

Williams and a number of other residents were at the meeting to do battle against plans for the Edinburgh subdivision. The initial plans called for about 10 single-family homes to be built south of Edinburgh Road and at least 30 duplexes to the north. The single-family homes and the duplexes follow the current zoning requirements, but residents still didn’t want the duplexes and were also concerned that all the traffic would feed off Edinburgh.

Because of the Splash Zone, the area already gets a large amount of traffic and children are everywhere, residents told the commissioners.

Commissioners asked Tommy Bond, who was representing the owner of the property, Jim Peacock, to try to address the concerns of the residents and bring the plan back next month.

Commissioner Emma Knight asked Bond if the development could be just single-family homes, even though multi-family units were allowable. Bond said he would discuss the idea with the owner and come back with a more palatable plan.

More than half the crowd was at the city hall meeting to fight plans to rezone about 19.5 acres, known as Foxwood Gardens from R-0 (single-family homes) to R-2 (duplexes). Bond, representing the property owners, quickly amended the request to go to R-1 (single-family homes with smaller lots).

“We have no intentions of building multi-family units in this subdivision. Plans are to build a gated community of garden homes and the homes would range from 1,500 to 2,500-square-feet,” he explained to the riled crowd.

Plans called for about 80 new homes on the acreage.

City administrator Jay Whis-ker, who served six years as the city engineer and still represents the engineering department at planning commission meetings, explained to the crowd and commissioners that the rezoning request only affected the size of the lots. “At R-0 the lots are 75-by-120 feet, at R-1 the lots are 60-by-100 feet. If the rezoning goes through, it’ll add about 10 to 15 additional homes to the development,” he said.

The largest concern of the residents was the only one street would be used to enter and exit the gated subdivision. “That’s a lot of traffic to be tuning in and out that close to a school,” said Charles Evans of 1801 Steeplechase.

The planned exits and entrances to the subdivision are at the dead end of Steeplechase Drive, and where Foxwood turns east and west, close to Pinewood Ele-mentary. According to Bond, only one of the entrances would be used by residents, the other would be for emergency vehicles. Don Hall, of 1513 Foxwood, said. “Kids congregate in that area for school buses and the only sidewalk is on that side. The extra traffic would create a very dangerous situation.”

Dan Broughton, of 1300 Fox-wood Drive, was concerned about the home sizes. “There’s a lot of difference between a 1,500-square- foot home and a 2,500-square-foot home, and that means a lot of difference in the dollar value. We don’t want our property values going down,” he said.

Even though the subdivision design was a separate issue from the rezoning, the commissioners asked Bond to bring the request back next month with a more complete plan to help determine whether the subdivision would be a good fit for the area or not.

Commissioner Chad Young felt the garden-home subdivision was needed in Jacksonville, “but it’s a tight squeeze here.”
Commissioners will tackle both issues at its 7 p.m., Aug. 13 meeting at city hall.

In other planning commission business:

Commissioners approved the rezoning of the Bellevue Subdivision, Phase IV from R-1 (single-family homes) to R-2 (duplexes). They also approved the final plat for the subdivision.