Cape panel votes against Victorian Estates

Thursday, October 12, 2006

For almost a year opposition has been strong to a proposed low-income senior housing project on Clark Avenue called Victorian Estates. Wednesday night, the Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission denied the developer's request for rezoning and a special-use permit.

About 20 residents of neighborhoods east of Clark Avenue voiced objections to the proposal ranging from traffic to drainage to the likelihood of crime.

Though several commissioners said they liked the proposal, they unanimously voted it down.

A motion by commissioner Bill Hinckley to allow the 74 senior apartments without changing zoning for other proposed duplexes failed 9-2.

"I am disappointed, but that's the price of doing business," said Jackson developer Chad Hartle. Hartle said he is keeping options open as to what he will do with the 14 wooded acres. One option is to bring his proposal before the city council at its Oct. 23 meeting. He also said he has received numerous inquiries from people interested in developing the land.

Jim McGinnis, of 1832 Lawanda Drive, took issue with the low-income component of the development. "There will be broken homes moving in with these folks, I don't care what they say," he said. "Our property value will go down."

Under the proposal, the apartments would rent for $356 per month and would be similar to those already developed by Hartle called Jackson Senior Gardens II.

Hartle tried to combat the idea that seniors would be bad neighbors. "Seniors are very observant. They know every car in the parking lot, and they know who it belongs to. ... If there is someone there when they're not supposed to be there, I get a call," he said.

Bob Adams, a certified appraiser from Jackson, said he has never seen senior housing of that sort adversely affect property value.

In December 2005, a petition with 162 signatures from area residents helped derail the proposal; this time a petition of more than 200 signatures did the same. "I'm going to listen to the people," said commissioner Ray Buhs.

State funding would be crucial to Victorian Estates with tax credits accounting for $4 million of the $5 million proposal.

The original plans called for extending Clark Avenue through Lawanda Drive, Stoddard Street and Recardo Drive, all currently dead-ends. Neighbors worried that traffic would make the area less safe and less valuable.

In September, Hartle reworked the plans. Clark Avenue would be extended, bisecting the new development, but the developer addressed neighborhood concerns about traffic by turning the four previously mentioned streets into cul-de-sacs.

The 14 wooded acres in question are currently zoned R-1 single family, which means if Hartle sold the property to another developer it could be subdivided into 47 single-family lots without any input from Planning and Zoning.

335-6611, extension 245

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