Eight months after the city rezoned the vacant property next to the Newton School District Transportation Facility, council members on Sept. 19 approved the preliminary plan to add a seven-lot subdivision to the land. But one citizen who raised questions about the rezoning was quick to return to share his concerns.
Craig Decker of Newton asked about the progress of the Highway Safety Committee’s analysis of neighborhood on-street parking, the developer’s plan to have 150 trucks of fill dirt, the proposed timeline for developing the lots and what stops the city or developer from turning the lots into Section 8 housing.
The proposed subdivision is located in the 1400 block of First Avenue West, near the intersection of US Route 6 and US Highway 14. The subdivision is essentially a six-lot fill and former right-of-way vacated from Leepers Highland Addition. It is currently zoned R-2, single and two-family residential.
Newton’s Director of Community Development, Erin Chambers, addressed these four main concerns regarding what has become known as the Stelpflug Addition. With how flat the subdivision is right now, a builder could theoretically build homes on those underlying lot lines.
However, the current promoter did not bother with the arrangement as he ended up with very tight lots. Although the preliminary dish did not increase the batches, Chambers maintained that there was a functional increase. For a number of years the property was a detached house with a large yard.
“So that would definitely indicate a change in function for the neighborhood,” Chambers said. “At the planning and zoning commission (meeting), the concerns about traffic were heard, in particular the concern was about the on-street. Currently at this time parking is permitted on both sides of the road.
It was the commission’s request that the city’s Traffic Safety Committee – a group of staff engineers and the city engineer who analyze and study traffic issues – conduct a future analysis of on-street parking in the neighborhood as the property develops.
Chambers said there would be no reason to take a look at parking requirements until the first houses are built and driveways can be located.
“It’s hard to analyze parking, street parking and that kind of thing without knowing where those driveways are going to be,” she said. “And this will be done at the time of the building permit. Certainly, if you had seven new houses on a street, it deserves a review and we noted it.
Also note: Aisles will need to reside along West 15th Street Place North rather than First Avenue West. The former owners signed a permanent easement with the Iowa Department of Transportation relinquishing all rights to a driveway along First Avenue West/US Route 6.
As for the fill dirt, Chambers said there will be a reclassification of the property. That being said, at the rear of the property there will be a 40 foot wide drainage easement. The project “has no negative impact” on the neighborhood’s stormwater drainage.
“Development is necessary to kind of ‘keep their issues’, so when you add new paving, when you add new homes – whether through a site plan or a housing estate – those projects must be designed in a way that does not cause runoff onto your neighbors or cause a backup problem,” Chambers said.
The plan also meets city engineering standards.
The lead time is tricky. Approval of the preliminary plan is the first step in the process, which was done by council members in a 4-0 vote. After the preliminary course, there is a final course. The preliminary plan tells the council how they want to build something, which in this case is a housing estate.
“Once you get approval for it, you go out and build it, then you come back to the planning and zoning commission and the city council to show that you built your subdivision according to the preliminary plan. , and you’re asking for final approval of the dish,” Chambers said. .
Only after public improvements have been constructed and accepted by public works can a final piece be presented to officials.
When the final dish is approved, this creates the lots for sale. Until then, there aren’t really any lots for sale and registration at the Jasper County Recorder’s office. Chambers said there will be another review process following the grading work on this property.
Referring to Decker’s survey of Section 8 housing, Chambers said the city cannot discriminate between types of housing and who lives in those homes. Typically, housing estates or developments do not have housing assistance for low-income people unless they receive other tax credits from the state government.
Newton has not received any requests for low-to-moderate income assistance from the developer, either locally or at the state level, Chambers said.
“While I can’t predict and can’t speak to this, I can say that to date there has been no movement from the developer to apply for Section 8 housing vouchers or whatever. it’s like that,” she said.
As a side note, Chambers clarified that Section 8 housing vouchers do not affect housing type. If a person is in need and demonstrates that need to the Central Iowa Regional Housing Authority (CIRHA), the housing authority issues them a voucher to cover the gap between their ability to pay and the actual rent.
“That is then paid to the owner and is done somewhat privately,” Chambers said. “We don’t know where the people who have Section 8 vouchers live. We don’t know where they live. Generally, landlords cannot discriminate based on whether that tenant is paying with a Section 8 voucher.”
Although the city has a handful of public housing, these are owned by CIRHA, which Chambers says has stopped building its own housing and using the vouchers. To that end, even though the City of Newton knew that housing would benefit people with Section 8, it could not discriminate.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 560 or [email protected]