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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Alexandria City Council to Review Two Zoning Change Recommendations

About 20 people attended the socially distanced public hearings at in the Alexandria Community Center to express concerns about a zoning change for a new development

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by Robin Gee

Earlier this month, the Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission held two public hearings to consider approval of requests for zoning changes at two properties owned by the Fort Mitchell-based developer Drees. Both requests were recommended by the commissioners and are on the agenda for a first reading vote by city council April 1.

Timber Creek setbacks

The first request was for property in the Timber Creek subdivision currently under development, located on the south side of Poplar Ridge Road and off East and West Timber Creek drives. The Planning Commission heard from Drees Development Specialist Matt Mains about both requests.

The change would not affect existing homes already sold in the development, but Mains said the developer is asking that the remaining property be rezoned, changing it from Residential 1D (R-1D) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). This change would enable the developer to request a change in the side yard setback, taking it from 15 feet down to 10 feet.

"This is in response to current market demand, which would allow customers to select some of the larger footprints that didn’t previously fit on these lots," Mains explained.

The company would like to offer larger floor plans as an option on their lots. Typical houses for the developer have been either 42 feet or 48 feet wide. Right now, on the 60 foot lots with the required 15-foot setbacks required by the zone, only homes up to 45 feet wide can be built on these lots.

The change to 10-foot setback would allow for the larger homes (48-feet) to be built, and in the future could have 70-foot lots that could include a 48-foot wide home along with a 12-foot garage, something home buyers are now requesting, he explained. With larger lots possible, the development could slightly reduce density as well.

The setback requirement is five feet in the PUD. One council member commented that with the five-foot minimum, that would still have 10 feet between houses, allowing for a fire lane if needed.

The commissioners found that the request would be in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan, and so voted to recommend the zone change request.

Riffle Ridge Development at Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive

The proposed townhomes on the site between Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive would cluster buildings on ridges leaving some wooded areas undeveloped (Google Maps)

At least 20 people attended the the second public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission to voice their interest and concern about a request for a zone change for a 48-acre property between Tollgate Road and Breckenridge Drive.

Mains presented on what Drees is calling the Riffle Ridge Development. "We think it is a great fit and we want to continue our success with a new development," he said.

The developer proposed a change from R-1D to PUD for this property as well. This would allow a change from single-family homes to town homes. The developer would like to build 36 buildings with 122 town homes total. Town homes, explained Mains, would be better suited to the ridged topography of the land. The plan would be to build on the ridges and leave a large swath of the property below the ridges undisturbed.

The proposed development fits within the Alexandria Comprehensive Plan, said Mains. With the PUD, the developer would be able to cluster development on the ridges leaving the natural land features and would not have to do extensive grading or other costly improvements.

The Comprehensive Plan calls for the area in question to be between 5.1 and 14 dwelling units per acre. The Drees’ proposal would be about 6.1 net units per acre. Each of the 36 buildings would have three or four units, and each unit would have both a driveway and a garage. In addition to the parking spaces for the units, there would also be 67 off street parking spaces scattered around the community.

Other amenities include a clubhouse and pool, an entry monument and pocket parks on the grounds. Sidewalks will be put in along the entire frontage of Breckenridge Drive and one side of the internal roads. The site will include 68 walkout and 54 slab ranch-style townhomes from 1,400 to 2,100 square feet each. Sale price will be from $230,000 to $350,000.

Three detention ponds would control runoff, Mains said. The developer proposes a 25-foot public road with a 26-foot right of way. Minimum set back from Breckinridge Drive is 30 feet, but Mains said the plan is to be setback from the street 100 feet.

The developer said a traffic study has been done and is on file with the city. It verified the site distance and noted there were no requirements for additional road improvement.

Public concerns focus on traffic

Several people spoke about their concerns with the development. Most approved of the plan to build only on the ridges, but wanted assurances that adequate mediation was in place for runoff and drainage. They also requested assurances that the surrounding woodland would remain undeveloped as outlined in the developer's initial plans.

Traffic was the main concern. Three people said they did not agree with the traffic study and were concerned that it was done at a time when more people are working from home. One person noted the uptick in traffic since schools reopened. The crowd clapped in approval as these points were made.

On a related issue, many expressed concerns that construction at the nearby Arcadia development has brought noise, trash and other issues because heavy equipment is using Breckenridge and Tollgate instead of US 27. They asked the developer to look into this issue, and he agreed to speak with their contractors. City officials said they would look into signage on the streets as well.

The development is expected to roll out over five years, according to the developer. There was concern that plans could change and that promised landscaping, improvements and protections of undeveloped portions of the site might not be completed.

City attorney Mike Duncan said he believed the plan for the site was in keeping with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, but he noted that this hearing was to discuss the zone change only. The site plan would still need more development and further approvals. He recommended that if the zone change were approved the commissioners may want to add some conditions such as permanent protection of undeveloped areas.

Commissioner Sonny Markus made the motion to approve the zone change but with the following conditions:

  • There would be a 100-foot setback from Breckenridge Road.
  • Entry landscape would be installed in the first phase consistent with the plan and that further landscaping be rolled out in each phase as the project proceeds.
  • The undeveloped woodland on the site would be kept undeveloped, permanently, now and forever.

The commissioners voted to recommend the zone change with the conditions outlined. The recommendation will be made to council for a first reading at its April 1 meeting.

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