ENGLEWOOD — A standing room only, overflow crowd of close to 100 residents packed council chambers Tuesday night for the Sept. 26 meeting of Englewood city council.
Residents at the meeting voiced their opposition to a proposed rezoning request and concept plan by ‘Crescent Communities, Inc.’ for 28.37 acres of land located along the south side of Interstate 70 east of Taywood Road at “the easternmost end” of Taylorsburg Drive, which serves as the entrance for the existing Candlelight Village condominiums.
The proposed subdivision plan by Ryan Homes included construction of 80 lots with a minimum home size of 1,300 square feet with lots with a frontage of 56 feet by 135 feet in depth.
The portion of the subdivision bordering the Savina Hills Estates subdivision in Clayton, which contains larger homes in the 3,000 square foot range or larger, would include lots with an 80 foot frontage with larger homes.
Crescent Communities first submitted a plan at the August meeting of the Englewood Planning Commission showing all of the lots at 55 feet wide, which was rejected by the planning commission.
The plan was withdrawn and modified to have larger lots abutting the existing residential properties in Savina Hills. That plan was recommended for approval.
Residents gave impassioned testimony to city council Tuesday night why they were opposed to the development, most citing concerns over the size of the homes, traffic issues, the destruction of trees and the impact on the wildlife they observe in their yards – specifically deer.
The plan also called for a second access point on Elru Drive in Savina Hills but the city of Clayton would not approve that access point.
Julie Weber, who lives on three acres on Elin Court adjacent to the 28 acres involved in this plan, said she and her husband, Mike, had an agreement 28 years ago with Michael Young, who represented Crescent Communities at the meeting.
Weber stated that 28 years ago Young had proposed a development called ‘Crescent Pond Estates’ with a pond in the center and “40 some houses” with a value equal to, or more than Weber’s home which is currently listed on Zillow with an estimated value of $336,000.
“We agreed to an easement and they started the project. Dirt was moved, work was done and then it just stopped,” Weber said. “We never heard another thing.”
She stated she had her husband never received documentation for the easement agreement and that they would not enter into an easement this time.
“That easement that is mentioned on that map will not happen,” Weber added. “My husband and I have adamantly said that it will not happen. It will have to go somewhere else.”
Some residents were concerned with the ability of Northmont City Schools to handle an influx of new students. School Board President Linda Blum attended the meeting and assured residents the district could handle the increase of students.
While the police and fire department assured council that they would have no issues getting into the proposed subdivision for emergency calls, the same was not true for school buses.
Blum told council that Taylorsburg Drive was too narrow for school buses.
“As of right now, our buses cannot go down Taylorsburg so all of those students would have to be picked up at Taywood Road,” Blum said. “The buses can’t go down Taylorsburg because of parked cars on both sides of the street and because there is no place for them to turn around.”
Blum started to talk about traffic and Mayor Tom Franz cut her off, stating Blum had the chance to speak during the public hearing and that she needed to stick to issues regarding the schools.
The audience angrily pointed out that someone from council asked her to speak and that her discussion about bus access was directly related to the schools.
“As I was saying, a lot of people have talked about traffic and I’m concerned about the traffic with our school buses with these additional students,” Blum continued. “If they are all having to go to the corner of Taywood and Taylorsburg, there is going to be a lot of students there and a lot of moving traffic, and that should be a concern.”
Council member Adrew Gough asked Blum what impact the development would have on the school district financially.
“It would be property value, but remember – property taxes don’t grow, so putting these houses in would add inside millage to us, which is a very small amount of the property taxes, but everyone’s millage would be adjusted because property taxes in House Bill 920 does not grow,” Blum said.
She said the school wouldn’t benefit other than from state dollars for having more students.
After hearing all of the concerns by residents and those brought up by Blum, council voted 5-2 against the concept plan and rezoning. Only Gough and Franz voted in favor of the proposal.
Reach Ron Nunnari by email: [email protected].