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Residents battle development plans

Frustration and indignation boiled up into shouts of anger when residents of the Glenwood Estates subdivision challenged a planned addition during the Oct. 1 Cabot Planning Commission meeting. Tensions were eased when the matter was tabled to the November commission meeting, but on Wednesday, Oct. 2, commission chairman Ron Craig resigned at the request of Mayor Bill Cypert.

The conduct of the meeting was not what should be expected of a city meeting, Cypert said Tuesday. “We spoke about it. I asked [Craig] to resign, and he did,” Cypert said.

The controversy was over the 42-home planned unit development (PUD) proposed by Montclaire Development. The PUD would be built on six acres between Glenwood Estates and U.S. Highway 67/167.

Billy McCarroll, acting as spokesman for the Glenwood residents, presented the objections to the PUD. People attending the meeting filled the district courtroom, which was used while the council chambers were being renovated.

Tim Lemons, of Lemons Engineering of Cabot, represented the developers of the PUD, which would consist of 42 garden-style homes.

A planned unit development is a combination of zoning and a detailed site plan that must be followed exactly by the developer.

Lemons said the development would resemble the gated Hamptons development already built in the city.

Without a working speaker system, Lemons spoke from the back of the room to ensure everyone could hear what was said.

Lemons told of a community meeting conducted by the developers to inform residents of the development. “This was not a called meeting. It was not required by the city. We did this as an act of good faith to try to explain what we were going to do with this development,” he said. Thirteen individuals attended the meeting, he said.

Lemons said areas covered at the meeting were the requirements that would have to be met in the PUD that otherwise would not be required under a R-1 zoning.

Specifics included brick exteriors, double garages, interior details, fencing, landscaping and a property owners association, which would later monitor compliance with subdivision requirements.

McCarroll said the Glenwood residents had a large number of concerns, from enforcement of the site plan to high traffic volume on the single road that serves Glenwood Estates. Children in Glenwood walk or ride bicycles to Northside Elementary School, so safety concerns are great, he said.

“This will more than double the residential traffic flow of our neighborhood,’ he said during his presentation.

He also said most the Glenwood residents were not sent notification of the re-zoning request because their properties were not within 200 feet of the development, even though they would be directly impacted. “We believe every resident in our subdivision should have received a certified letter,” McCarroll said.

Also, most of the notification letters were picked up less than a week before the commission meeting, McCarroll said. “We had only six or seven days to get together as a neighborhood and bring up concerns that we wanted addressed,” he said.

Property values are another concern, McCarroll said. Homes in Glenwood are larger than 2,000 square feet valued at up to $300,000, “or more,” McCarroll said. The Montclaire development plans for 1,300- to 1,600 square-foot homes would be up $160,000, he said.

He also pointed out the difference between the 45 custom homes of Glenwood Estates on 25 acres and the proposed 42 “cookie-cutter” homes on six acres.

“We believe construction of these garden homes will not … increase our property values in Glenwood Estates,” McCarrol said.

The development would destroy the line of tree lines that act as a barrier to the noise from the highway, McCarroll said. “This proposed development would increase the noise nuisance and degrade the environmental landscape we have grown accustomed to …,” he said.

“We respectfully ask you to deny this request to rezone the 6.92 acres in our neighborhood,” McCarroll said.

If that is not to happen, “We ask you to defer this decision for a month to provide us adequate time to meet with the developer in an attempt to mitigate the devastating impact this proposal … would have on our neighborhood and … develop a plan of action,” McCarroll said.

A number of residents made similar comments to the commission.

However, tensions, which had risen as points were argued between Craig and some speakers, became rancorous when Craig spoke of people “Lying to me.”

Lemons called on the commission to give everyone involved more time, “To learn about things we don’t know about, and share those details … it is evident a lot of people did not get information, and did not know.”

The commission voted to table the issue for 30 days.

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