Col­lege Av­enue zon­ing tabled

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

FAYETTEVILLE — The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Mon­day tabled a public hous­ing devel­op­ment plan and a pro­posal to re­zone a sec­tion of Col­lege Av­enue to al­low more time to ad­dress as­pects of both.

A plan be­fore the com­mis­sion would ex­pand the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity-op­er­ated Mor­gan Manor apart­ment com­plex at 324 E. 12th Place from 52 units to 110. The Hous­ing Au­thor­ity is un­der con­tract to sell the public hous­ing prop­erty it owns at Wil­low Heights, 10 S. Wil­low Ave., for $1.25 mil­lion. Those res­i­dents would then move to the Mor­gan Manor ex­pan­sion.

Mor­gan Manor op­er­ates un­der a form of Sec­tion 8, the Rental As­sis­tance Demon­stra­tion pro­gram, that com­bines public and pri­vate eq­uity to pro­vide rental as­sis­tance to low-in­come res­i­dents. City At­tor­ney Kit Wil­liams sent a let­ter July 3 to Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment of­fi­cials ask­ing whether the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity fol­lowed proper pro­ce­dure to sell the land, build the ex­pan­sion and move the res­i­dents.

U.S. Sen. John Booz­man, R-Arkansas, also has sent a sim­i­lar in­quiry to Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman.

The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion first took up the devel­op­ment plan for the ex­pan­sion June 12.

Also, the com­mis­sion moved a pro­posal to re­zone Col­lege Av­enue from Maple to North streets to a sub­com­mit­tee of seven com­mis­sion­ers. The pro­posal made its way once through the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and to the City Coun­cil. The Or­di­nance Re­view Com­mit­tee and sub­se­quently the full coun­cil de­cided to pass the item back to the com­mis­sion.

The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion sub­com­mit­tee will tackle chang­ing the ex­ist­ing city code rather than cre­at­ing a new zon­ing dis­trict, as was pre­vi­ously pro­posed for that sec­tion of Col­lege Av­enue. An idea also will be dis­cussed to cre­ate a sys­tem so de­vel­op­ers could build three-story build­ings by right but any­thing more would re­quire a “re­tail ready” ground floor.

Res­i­dents who spoke dur­ing pre­vi­ous Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ings made it clear their de­sire to keep large, stu­dent-oc­cu­pied apart­ments from tow­er­ing over their neigh­bor­hoods. Sev­eral also cited traf­fic safety con­cerns from heav­ily pop­u­lated de­vel­op­ments.

City plan­ning staff first

pro­posed the re­zon­ing in April to go along with an on­go­ing Col­lege Av­enue im­prove­ment project.

The sub­com­mit­tee will meet fol­low­ing the com­mis­sion’s agenda ses­sion Aug. 10.

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