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Planning board tables dense apartment project

SHERIDAN – The Sheridan Planning Commission unanimously decided to table a decision on a request to rezone property at the corner of Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue from R-3 Residential to Planned Unit Development at its regular meeting Monday night. The decision came after nearly two hours of discussion from city staff, the engineer for the development and several nearby residents who expressed concern about the proposed development.

More than 35 people filled the council chambers on the third floor of Sheridan City Hall to participate in the meeting, with nine residents signing up to address the Planning Commission. Robert Briggs, city planning director and case manager for the proposed Skyview West development, and project manager Jeff Feck of Vista West Engineering presented history on the area and information about design specifics. This was followed by more than an hour of public comment regarding concerns about traffic, privacy, property values and the overall size and style of the development.

Planning Commission member Larry Storo made a motion to table a decision until the next regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Robert Webster and unanimously approved. Planning Commission member Kelly Gooch was not present. The Planning Commission said it wanted to take more time to consider all the information that was presented. It will reconsider the request to rezone at its meeting March 25. If passed, the rezone request will go before City Council for approval April 1.
Planning Commission chair Jason Szewc said emotion drove the decision to table the request.
“These are your neighbors, friends, members of our church; we’re all tied together in one big community,” Szewc said. “We realize that not everybody’s going to be happy with our decision.

“I believe we were very prepared, but I think it was just a little bit more emotional for us, and we wanted a little more time to think about it and discuss it,” Szewc continued.

The planned Skyview West development is owned by Phoenix Limited Partnership, whose primary agent is Sheridan Media owner Kim Love.

According to a memo from Briggs to the Planning Commission, the proposed development consists of 76 townhome style units to be completed in two phases. The units in Phase 1, a 3.4-acre area adjacent to residents in the Colony South neighborhood, will consist of two-story units and Phase 2, which covers 3.4 acres on the corner of Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue, will include three-story units. The one-, two-, and three-bedroom units will be attached, with each unit having its own driveway, garage and entrance. The units will be occupied vertically by a single family.

Project manager Feck said Phase 1 of the development will follow several R-1 Residential guidelines in order to match the surrounding neighborhoods and address resident concerns. These include larger rear yard setbacks of 20 feet, neutral housing colors, a height of 27.5 feet on the two-story units, which is 7 feet less than the maximum allowed height in an R-1 zone, and much less density than would be allowed in a typical PUD.
These concessions in design were the result of the controversial nature of the property, which has been the subject of several purchases, subdivisions, rezoning attempts and proposed developments since 1996.

In 1998, City Council approved a rezone of Tract 1, adjacent to Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue, from R-1 to R-3 Residential. Tract 2, adjacent to the Colony South neighborhood, retained its R-1 zoning as a petition from nearby residents requested.

In 2010, Phoenix Limited Partnership sued the city over a zoning discrepancy between the city zoning map, which labeled both tracts as R-3, and a city ordinance that labeled Tract 1 as R-3 and Tract 2 as R-1. A summary judgment from the 4th Judicial District Court ruled in favor of the city zoning map and said both tracts should be considered R-3.

In May 2011, more than 200 nearby residents submitted a petition to rezone Tract 2 from R-3 to R-1 Residential. The petition was tabled for a year and a half while city staff and development engineers met with a committee of residents to discuss possible compromises, Briggs said, noting that the conceptual plan, conceptual design report and preliminary plat before the Planning Commission reflected several of those compromises.

Briggs said the Planning Commission had several options: It could approve the PUD as is or suggest revisions and approve conditionally; it could deny the PUD and rezone, which would allow the developer to use building permits to develop according to R-3 zoning requirements; it could consider the petition to rezone the property to R-1, which is highly unusual to do; or it could follow other options such as tabling the request.

Concerns expressed in the public comment period of the meeting include:
• Traffic and parking: Merry Potter, a nearby resident, said traffic has already become an issue in the neighborhood and worries the development will only make it worse.

“There’s been cars hit and run. There has been children almost hit because of the traffic coming through. It used to be a quiet neighborhood, and you’re going to make it high traffic,” Potter said.
Feck said a traffic study has been completed, showing 590 average daily trips in the area. He said there will be a striped left-hand turn from Colonial onto Brundage but that an exit onto Big Horn isn’t feasible due to the slope of the land and how congested the area already is. He said the development exceeds the required 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which would be 114 spaces for 76 units. He said 185 spaces are provided in the plan.

• Water pressure and drainage: JT Richer, a nearby resident, worried about the lack of water pressure, which is already an issue, he said. He was also concerned about drainage in the area becoming problematic.

Feck said studies of peak hour water flows showed adequate water pressure even with increased use in the proposed development. He said the historical drainage flow will be maintained and directed into detention ponds.

• Privacy and setbacks: James Wilhelm, an adjacent resident, said the rear yard setbacks are not enough and that the lack of fencing will disrupt his privacy.

“I am the one that is most fully affected by this because 18 feet from my deck will be a two-story building, eight units,” Wilhelm said.
Several residents mentioned a desire for fencing to promote privacy, as well.
Feck said the 20-foot setbacks are larger than would be required and fit the requirements of an R-1 zone.

• Preservation of neighborhood: Nel Dahmke, an adjacent resident, said she is most concerned about the loss of the preservation of the feel of the neighborhood. She brought in photographs of nearby houses to demonstrate how different the proposed development would be. She said, in the discussions with city staff, residents were lead to believe the development would be single story, single family patio homes similar to Falcon Ridge.

“Our requests are not unreasonable,” Dahmke said. “We’re not opposed to development. We want that lot to be developed. All we’re simply asking is that whatever development structures are put on that lot to please match the character of the neighborhood as required and not depreciate our property values.”
Moving forward, Planning Commission members will think about all the information presented at the meeting before making a decision about the request to rezone at its next meeting March 25. Briggs said the developer may have a chance to incorporate further compromises before the next meeting.

“I believe we were very prepared, but I think it was just a little bit more emotional for us, and we wanted a little more time to think about it and discuss it,” Szewc continued.

The planned Skyview West development is owned by Phoenix Limited Partnership, whose primary agent is Sheridan Media owner Kim Love.

According to a memo from Briggs to the Planning Commission, the proposed development consists of 76 townhome style units to be completed in two phases. The units in Phase 1, a 3.4-acre area adjacent to residents in the Colony South neighborhood, will consist of two-story units and Phase 2, which covers 3.4 acres on the corner of Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue, will include three-story units. The one-, two-, and three-bedroom units will be attached, with each unit having its own driveway, garage and entrance. The units will be occupied vertically by a single family.

Project manager Feck said Phase 1 of the development will follow several R-1 Residential guidelines in order to match the surrounding neighborhoods and address resident concerns. These include larger rear yard setbacks of 20 feet, neutral housing colors, a height of 27.5 feet on the two-story units, which is 7 feet less than the maximum allowed height in an R-1 zone, and much less density than would be allowed in a typical PUD.

These concessions in design were the result of the controversial nature of the property, which has been the subject of several purchases, subdivisions, rezoning attempts and proposed developments since 1996.

In 1998, City Council approved a rezone of Tract 1, adjacent to Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue, from R-1 to R-3 Residential. Tract 2, adjacent to the Colony South neighborhood, retained its R-1 zoning as a petition from nearby residents requested.

In 2010, Phoenix Limited Partnership sued the city over a zoning discrepancy between the city zoning map, which labeled both tracts as R-3, and a city ordinance that labeled Tract 1 as R-3 and Tract 2 as R-1. A summary judgment from the 4th Judicial District Court ruled in favor of the city zoning map and said both tracts should be considered R-3.

In May 2011, more than 200 nearby residents submitted a petition to rezone Tract 2 from R-3 to R-1 Residential. The petition was tabled for a year and a half while city staff and development engineers met with a committee of residents to discuss possible compromises, Briggs said, noting that the conceptual plan, conceptual design report and preliminary plat before the Planning Commission reflected several of those compromises.

Briggs said the Planning Commission had several options: It could approve the PUD as is or suggest revisions and approve conditionally; it could deny the PUD and rezone, which would allow the developer to use building permits to develop according to R-3 zoning requirements; it could consider the petition to rezone the property to R-1, which is highly unusual to do; or it could follow other options such as tabling the request.

Concerns expressed in the public comment period of the meeting include:
• Traffic and parking: Merry Potter, a nearby resident, said traffic has already become an issue in the neighborhood and worries the development will only make it worse.

“There’s been cars hit and run. There has been children almost hit because of the traffic coming through. It used to be a quiet neighborhood, and you’re going to make it high traffic,” Potter said.
Feck said a traffic study has been completed, showing 590 average daily trips in the area. He said there will be a striped left-hand turn from Colonial Drive onto Brundage Lane but that an exit onto Big Horn Avenue isn’t feasible due to the slope of the land and how congested the area already is.
He said the development exceeds the required 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which would be 114 spaces for 76 units. He said 185 spaces are provided in the plan.

• Water pressure and drainage: JT Richer, a nearby resident, worried about the lack of water pressure, which is already an issue, he said. He was also concerned about drainage in the area becoming problematic.

Feck said studies of peak hour water flows showed adequate water pressure even with increased use in the proposed development. He said the historical drainage flow will be maintained and directed into detention ponds.

• Privacy and setbacks: James Wilhelm, an adjacent resident, said the rear yard setbacks are not enough and that the lack of fencing will disrupt his privacy.
“I am the one that is most fully affected by this because 18 feet from my deck will be a two-story building, eight units,” Wilhelm said.

Several residents mentioned a desire for fencing to promote privacy, as well.
Feck said the 20-foot setbacks are larger than would be required and fit the requirements of an R-1 zone.

• Preservation of neighborhood: Nel Dahmke, an adjacent resident, said she is most concerned about the loss of the preservation of the feel of the neighborhood. She brought in photographs of nearby houses to demonstrate how different the proposed development would be. She said, in the discussions with city staff, residents were lead to believe the development would be single story, single family patio homes similar to Falcon Ridge.

“Our requests are not unreasonable,” Dahmke said. “We’re not opposed to development. We want that lot to be developed. All we’re simply asking is that whatever development structures are put on that lot to please match the character of the neighborhood as required and not depreciate our property values.”
Moving forward, Planning Commission members are expected to make a decision at its next meeting March 25. Briggs said the developer may have a chance to incorporate further compromises before the next meeting.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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