Thursday April 02, 2015
Many recognize South Village, located in the Southeast Quadrant, as a beautiful neighborhood of single-family and townhomes surrounded by 150 acres of common land, recreation space, a four-acre organic farm, and an overall quaint ambience. What would it look like if small commercial uses were introduced into the area?
This was the topic of discussion brought to the Planning Commission’s attention at its March 24 meeting. Robin Jeffers of SD Ireland came before the commission initially in late January to request a change in zoning for a 9.73 acre area within the South Village Community Development to become designated as “Village Commercial.” Currently, South Village is zoned as a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). Commissioners advised the company to meet with residents and then return with a concept.
For context, South Village has been Master Plan Approved for 334 homes in a mix of 159 single family and multi-family homes, which will be completed in three phases. South Village has been approved by the Development Review Board for Phase 2A, which will introduce 99 additional housing units. Phase 3, anticipated for 2016-17, is the final phase.
After hosting two community meetings, Jeffers came back with the request and conceptual drawings created by Steve Roy, a resident of South Village and an architect at Wiemann Lamphere Architects.
“The primary goal is to fulfill the vision of community,” Jeffers said. “The original founders had a vision of a walkable community, a walkable village, and we believe the time has come that this would actually fulfill the vision and not only the vision within South Village itself...but it incorporates Dorset Farm neighborhood, everyone from Nowland Farm, and about halfway up Allen Rd., all within a half a mile from South Village.”
South Village Communities LLC is asking for the Village Commercial zone change in order to introduce new buildings for commercial and residential use on the 9.73 acre lot occupying the north and northeast section of South Village. Some of the commercial uses requested include office general, office medical, restaurant standard (i.e. small village pub), personal instruction school (i.e. yoga studio), daycare, bed and breakfast, small auto repair, convenience stores, retail food establishment (food hubs), seasonal mobile food units, and more. The area wouldn’t necessarily have all these uses, but they would be permitted, as requested.
“We’re envisioning small scale, certainly no more than 2,000 sq. ft., possibly quite smaller,” Jeffers added.
South Village Community LLC would also like to “move some of the density that we already have into that center, into some buildings and layer in commercial on the first floor.” An affordable housing component is also part of the plan.
Additionally, a barn structure adjacent to the farm is being considered to support the farm and act as a community gathering space. A city soccer field, underground parking and addressing concerns about on-street parking for neighborhoods that already exist were other discussion points.
How did residents and the planning commission receive this concept?
Commissioner Sophie Quest expressed concern about traffic impacts and whether this would actually translate to a more walkable community.
“If we give you village commercial, we give you tremendous ability to bring in all kinds of things,” she said. “Eventually, people are going to come from afar. They’re going to come to all of these restaurants, they’re going to come to the auto place, and they’re the ones who will come to the doctors, the finance advisors, [etc.]”
“I don’t totally object to having some kind of commercial property there...but the scale here just seems way off of what anyone in Phase 1 would have expected,” resident Kirk Clarke said.
Peter Borderlon, a potential South Village resident, said the concept was in a disclosure statement which threw him off. “We didn’t make an offer and we’re going to hold back to see what the results of this meeting are and then move forward from there,” he said.
Resident Nick Andrews voiced traffic and density concerns and questioned what it would mean for his property.
“I spent my life savings on this house,” he said. “I’m 67 years old, I’m retired...everything I’ve got, I have wrapped up in this house.”
Commissioner Gretchen Calcagni shared a positive response.
“I respect the opinions of those who came to talk and share their opinions, I just wanted to say, conceptually, I think that this is a great idea and a great model, and when I think about all of the different goals we’ve been talking about, this concept rolls all of those into one--from sustainable agriculture to affordable housing to walkability,” she said. “I really see this model as being a possibility for the future.”
Commissioners requested to continue the discussion with residents, gather feedback, and then connect with staff to draft language for a clearer concept to discuss at an upcoming planning commission meeting. Commissioner Tracey Harrington advised the audience that, due to the planning commission’s plate of tasks, this topic would likely not be picked up until June or July.
“This is just a concept, and I think there’s plenty of room for development to talk about what makes the most sense,” Roy said.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent