A proposal to change a piece of property located near Menard's and New Hope Church from commercial to residential caused many from the community to turn up at the Effingham Plan Commission meeting Tuesday evening.
John W. Kirby submitted a request to have 3.15 acres, located at 1110 Ford Ave. between New Hope Charlotte Street, rezoned from B-2 General Commercial to a residential district. Kirby currently owns property adjacent to the requested property he intends to purchase.
According to Jack Thompson, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of Kirby, the developer had not given him or Kirby an idea of whether the new development would be single family dwelling, multiple family dwelling, or low income housing. He said the cost of the plan prohibited the developer from creating one until the developer knew if the property would be rezoned. Thompson added that up to 40 dwellings up to three stories tall could be built on that size of property.
Nearby Northwood Estates Subdivision resident Todd Schaefer submitted to the commission Tuesday a petition signed by 79 residents opposing an unknown multifamily structure in that area.
“This doesn't fit with the plan of having business in that area,” said Schaefer.
Schaefer and others were also concerned that the name of the developer wasn't available at the meeting, as well as what kind of multifamily dwelling would be built.
Thompson reiterated that an adjacent piece of property was already zoned residential, and that there could be something built on that property. When asked if the Kirby property would be the outlet for vehicles, Thompson said he is not the developer and has not had personal contact with the developer.
Joshua Sheehan, who lives in Northwood Estates Subdivision, told commissioners he is concerned there is not enough information. He also stressed that since the subdivision has been built, traffic in that area has picked up considerably. He contends that it “wouldn’t be a good idea” to build more residences where kids play knowing the density of traffic in that area.
Plan Commission members mirrored the residents' concerns. They cited a need for more information about what kind of homes or apartments would be built in the area. They also noted that the city's Comprehensive Plan intends for the property to remain commercial.
“We need to find the highest and best use of this property,” said Plan Commission member Jeff Bloemker.
While Chairman Greg Kemper agreed with the commissioners' and residents' concerns, he wanted to remind people that Kirby was simply trying to sell his property.
Thompson said while he understood the concerns, he believes there will eventually be something in that location.
“I hope you all are happy with what goes in there,” said Thompson.
The Plan Commission unanimously denied the request
In other action, the commission:
• Approved the possible sale of Lot 5 of Mayhood Miracle Avenue Subdivision to Lisa Schmitt for the construction of a mini-storage unit. According to Effingham Building Official Bruce Devall, this was likely the best use of the property due to the odd angle to the rear of the property and a large culvert that runs through it.
According to Schmitt, the properties surrounding the lot are vacant, with the exception of one single family residential property.