Planning commission OKs senior housing

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Despite concerns from neighbors, a local builder won an endorsement Wednesday to build housing for senior citizens at the corner of Lexington Avenue and West Cape Rock Drive.

The Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend approval of builder Jeff Jackson's request for a special-use permit to build a 26-unit housing project he said will be for middle-income seniors.

"I want to build something that's affordable for middle-class folks. Nothing fancy, just one- and two-bedroom units, but in the price range for retired schoolteachers and those type of people. ... I think there's a niche there," said Jackson of Palmer & Palmer LLC.

Seventeen surrounding property owners presented mild opposition to the plan at the meeting. The primary concern was watershed from the project, which will sit atop a steep grade at 1400 W. Cape Rock Drive.

"Whenever there is a heavy rain, Lexington floods. When they start building and grading I'm not sure what will happen then. Will the water be coming in my front door instead of my back door?" asked Marilyn Zeller, who lives in the Heritage Park condos at 1310 Lexington Ave.

Other residents echoed that concern. They hoped a retention wall at the northwest end of the property built recently to contain mud and runoff would be left undisturbed by Jackson.

In the end, commissioners said residents would simply need to trust Jackson to fulfill the newly stringent requirements of Cape Girardeau's storm-water ordinance. The ordinance, created last October, requires a storm-water plan from builders to ensure runoff does not affect surrounding property owners.

Commissioners also noted Jackson was not required to come before Planning and Zoning. The property is zoned as an R-4 multifamily residential district.

"He could have been building a three-story apartment building, and you would have had no opportunity for comment," said commissioner Bill Hinckley to the neighbors.

Jackson said he elected to come before the commission in the interest of having his plans "out in the open." He said he plans to comply fully with city storm-water regulations.

One bordering property owner, Basil Harrison owner of 42 acres along Cape Rock Drive, expressed a concern about low-income housing in the area.

"I don't want public housing across from my property," he said.

Jackson said the units would likely be rented for between $500 and $700 monthly. He did not address the question of whether the units would be government subsidized.

335-6611, extension 245

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