Neighbors spoke against a rezoning request for property located along the city limits near Highway 100 and Old Pottery Road at the Washington Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Monday night.
A multifamily zoning is being sought by the landowner, David Kampschroeder, and Little Elm LLC.
There were four requests connected to the property. Ultimately, the planning board tabled two rezoning proposals at the request of developer Kurt Unnerstall, who was representing the landowner.
The tabled requests were for 16.8 acres to be annexed into the city to be zoned R-3 multifamily residential. The second request was to rezone 2.2 acres already in the city limits from R-1A single-family to R-3 multifamily residential.
Unnerstall said preliminary plans call for a senior housing complex similar to Riverbend Estates off High Street in Washington.
“There are no development plans, that will come at a later date,” added City Administrator Darren Lamb.
The planning commission unanimously approved two other requests to rezone 7 acres at 132 South Old Pottery from R-1A single-family to C-2 general commercial, and then rezone an additional acre off of West Highway 100 C-2 general commercial.
Both properties front Highway 100. The rezoning must still be approved by the Washington City Council which is scheduled to hear the request Monday, June 18.
All four of the properties presented to the zoning commission are located to the north of Meadow Lake subdivision, southwest of Washington in Franklin County.
“This is following, pretty much, your comprehensive plan,” Lamb said about the C-2 rezoning. “The residential, that would be a deviation.”
He added that the 2.2 acres currently zoned R-1A single-family was annexed into Washington in the 1960s.
Unnerstall said the land has been for sale since 2008. He explained that the land is best suited for multifamily senior housing development, which is needed in Washington.
“Single-family would not work on this track of land,” he said. “Baby boomers are aging and there is going to be a demand for senior housing in the city of Washington.”
Unnerstall said he has been building in Washington since 1993.
“My developments are first class,” he said. “If I don’t buy (this property) somebody else will. I’ll make sure it is done right.”
Harry Kessler, who lives on Spring Valley Lane, said much of the area had been one farm.
“My biggest problem is dropping multifamily units in the middle of a neighborhood,” he said.
Kessler asked if there would be a sound buffer between the commercial district and the Meadow Lake subdivision.
Lamb explained that city code requires a vegetative buffer between commercial and residential properties, primarily for sight, but sound buffers are not required.
Diane Kessler said since dirt has been moved on the lots, there has been more sound from Highway 100 reaching the subdivision.
“Since the hill was cut, the sound has increased immensely,” she said.
Planning Commission President Tom Holdmeier said landowners have the “right to develop their land.”
Rick Moore, who lives on Old Pottery Road, told the commission of a “tragic history” of the farmland where his home is located and where the proposed zoning changes are requested.
Moore added there is a need for single-family homes and that the “rolling hills” of the land should be incorporated into subdivisions.
He also cited several Washington neighborhoods that utilize the contours of the land, including Stone Crest. He said the property to the northeast of his home should also be developed to maintain the topography. Some of the subdivisions he mentioned were developed by Unnerstall.
Moore added that crime is less prevalent in single-family subdivisions and there is a need to attract families seeking new homes to Washington.
Spring Valley Lane resident Vicki Reiss questioned if the proposed senior living development would be similar to new senior housing located in Union.
“The houses are similar. It looks like barracks,” she said. “That will not help our property value and not help your town.”
Ludwig Reiss added that the property would be more suited for single-family dwellings, similar to the Windsor Meadows subdivision at Highways 100 and 109.
He said the city should be more selective in what developments it allows.
“If this goes through you are losing out,” the man said, adding he would move to Wildwood.