Developer abandons townhome proposal
Controversial plan sparked ire of nearby residents concerned about neighborhood
A controversial rezoning project is headed back to the drawing board.
Greg Ward, who had proposed constructing townhouses on five acres on the west side of Smiley Road, north of Hatchell, has reconsidered his plan.
Residents in the area had turned out in full force at meetings of both the city council and planning commission to oppose the development.
A few hours before the planning commission was to consider Ward's request for multifamily zoning on the land last Wednesday night, Ward withdrew the proposal.
"We're going to come back and do single-family zoning," Ward said in an interview. "I think we can accomplish the same thing. With all of the turmoil that was stirred up, it created some second thoughts for us. We've been trying to explain to everybody for the last 45 days that these were not going to be duplexes, but were going to be owner-occupied, moderately priced townhomes, but nobody got that."
So Ward will return with a plan that includes what he calls small gardenhomes.
Former Mayor John Franiuk, who was among nearby property owners who spoke out against multifamily zoning, said he was pleased with Ward's decision.
"I look forward to him bringing single-family homes into our neighborhood," Franiuk said. "I hate to see the farm ground go, but anybody who wants farm ground got off the bus too soon. They must now go up to Jefferson County.
"I welcome his single-family subdivision."
Ward said he hopes to obtain single-family zoning on the land, and then design the development. He plans to seek the rezoning at the Aug. 6 planning commission meeting.
"All the neighboring property owners said they wouldn't have a problem, as long as it was single family, so I can't imagine there will be any opposition," Ward said. "There's nothing like a little harmony."
Ward found anything but harmony during planning commission and city council meetings in the past month, as he sought multifamily zoning on the five-acre tract, which is the first phase of a 27-acre development he plans.
Residents of the area said they were concerned a multifamily development would lower their property values and the development would increase existing flooding problems in the area.
Franiuk, who was outspoken during the June 23 city council meeting, said he merely was trying to be a squeaky wheel.
"I thought if I could out-shout everyone, maybe Greg could get it in his head that it was the wrong development," said Franiuk, who left the mayor's office in early April. "I wasn't trying to be a NIMBY -- a not in my back yard person. I'm just an outspoken, outgoing kind of person who isn't afraid to put my foot in my mouth.
"I couldn't do that when I was mayor."