Large development off Grade Road
Eaglemont, a project that has been before the LS Council since July is finally scheduled for a voteBY KEVIN HULTEN | MANAGING EDITOR The City Council was expected to rule on the ongoing rezone request for the nearly 30-acre Eaglemont plot off Walker Hill and Grade Roads Tuesday.
The Council met on Dec. 26 and was expected to choose from two previous proposals for the site. One proposal called for 7500 square foot lots throughout the development, while another called for 7500 square foot lots mixed with 3600 square foot lots.
Mayor Vern Little announced a third proposal at the meeting, after meeting privately with Eaglemont’s owner - Monroe based developer Galen Holmquist. The new proposal also included a mix of 7500 and 3600 square foot lots with a different ratio and layout.
Despite the fact that the issue has generated an exceptional amount of public comment and has been ongoing since July, the Council decided against accepting public comment after the presentation of the newest plan.
“We’ve heard lots of public comment. This alternative is in keeping with what we asked for. I don’t see the need to open up more public testimony at this time. I’m ready to fish or cut bait,” said Council President Steve Brooks.
Holmquist said that he expects to build around 100 homes under the guidelines of the mayor’s proposal - down from the 220 he had earlier projected. Despite the smaller yield, Holmquist said he was willing to accept the proposal and complimented Little’s efforts in reaching out to the development community.
“Vern’s credibility went up a notch. He gave an honest representation of our meeting on Friday. We’re not about sour grapes, we’re about moving forward. We started with over 200 lots and we’re down to 100, and we’re okay with that,” Holmquist said, adding that he was a little disappointed that an ordinance was not prepared on the issue, delaying the scheduled vote another week.
While Little and Brooks were supporting the new proposal, councilmember Neal Dooley expressed significant reservations, stating that he would only be comfortable with 7500 square foot lots throughout.
“My concern is this area has been ongoing for a while and it has changed hands and it could again. We have an idea (of what will be built) and the developer has been quite frank, but it could change hands and whoever gets it has a zoning that could end up quite a bit different then what we think we have tonight,” Dooley said.
Brooks openly backed the proposal, and said he was prepared to vote yes.
“I heard the public ask for a better transition along 32nd Street and I think this alternative provides that. I’d be willing to support this alternative,” Brooks said.
Councilmember Heather Coleman said she was uncomfortable with earlier proposals that looked like they were “cramming in as many houses as possible,” but said the Mayor’s newest proposal was a step in the right direction.
“This is the best alternative out of all of them to get some housing in there and retain the character of the neighborhood. If we don’t get a certain amount of density in the area downtown will never survive,” Coleman said.
Dooley referred back to earlier meetings when supporting his decision. The Planning Commission recommended that an earlier proposal be denied despite the City Staff’s recommendation, and several contentious meetings held earlier included heated and emotional testimony on the subject.
“We’ve had a lot of input on this project, including two public hearings. The people that live in that area have shown up and talked about it. I’m comfortable with 7500 myself. I’m not willing to go with three (new proposal). For me, alternative one is the one to go with. I’m only one of five, but if we postpone it much longer, we might have another member to get involved with this,” Dooley said, referencing the open Council seat, expected to be filled by February.
Look for full coverage of the Council’s decision in next week’s Journal.