City postpones Baker’s Landing decision

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City Council on Monday postponed a decision regarding a largely residential development off Highway 35.

The developer of the proposal known as Baker’s Landing has spent the last few months adding enhancements and changes. Still, some argued the proposal simply goes against what is laid out in the city’s long-term land use plan.

“This area,” City Councilman Greg Hill said, “We’ve got a plan – this just doesn’t seem like it fits.”

“This area is not like just any other area. This is specific Old Townsite, and it’s zoned that way,” he said.

City staff on Monday could not recommend approval, Director of Community Development Lata Krishnarao told the Council.

The proposal calls for up to 280 single family homes off the State Highway 35 corridor.

The 79-acre site lies between Main Street and Old Alvin Road, south of Walnut Street.

“This site was designated as Village District in our Comprehensive Plan, and the recommendation of the plan is for a more mixed use development with a variety of housing types, including townhome, condominiums, corner store commercial and other mixed uses,” Krishnarao said. “This is primarily a single family suburban residential development.”

“The initial 1 acre general business use that was included in the PD has now been reduced to .5 acres despite the recommendation to increase the business uses,” she said.

City Councilman Scott Sherman pointed out that staff had previously presented the developer with 10 conditions to be met.

“And the applicant met a good number of those conditions,” he said. “Underlying this whole thing: Staff was never going to give a positive recommendation since there was no commercial aspect to it, so what was the purpose of making the applicant go through the whole process of meeting these conditions if ultimately staff was going to come back with a negative recommendation anyway?”

Krishnarao said what is presented now is an improvement over what was presented earlier, but the city feels the site has higher potential in the future.

A recommendation from Planning and Zoning to approve the change had no bearing on staff’s opinion, she said. Former Councilman Larry Marcott appeared to speak in opposition of the zone change.

“We’re running out of commercial property in this community, and the council has seen fit at times to change zoning from commercial or industrial to residential,” he said. “Without the commercial, the taxpayers are going to end up having to pay an awful lot of taxes in the future if we don’t have the proper mix.”

The application was submitted by consultant Alan Mueller on behalf of the Felton M. and Mary C. Baker Revocable Trust.

“We tried to be responsive as we’ve gone through this process,” Mueller said.

“We think this would be a good catalyst for the area, and there’s plenty of other commercial property to be developed.”

“This land has sat there for a long time, and you’ve got a map showing commercial land available all up 35,” Sherman said.

“The applicant was made to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop,” he added. “To me, it just doesn’t seem fair.”

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