Through a happy confluence of timing, some lucky TV viewers were able to watch Scotty McCreery win American Idol and still tune into the continuation of the public hearing for Aydan Court. And just as some season finales stretch a one-hour show into two (or, if you’re Oprah, an entire week and cause the NBA playoffs to be rescheduled), the Aydan Court drama will come back June 20 for an encore. Minutes before midnight last night, council approved a recess to the public hearing in order to get more information.
Early on in last night’s public hearing, it looked like the big battle would be over which worthy agency would receive the payment in lieu. Town ordinance requires the developer to set aside about 15 percent of new housing as affordable, but sometimes allows the developer to make a payment equivalent to the cost of constructing that housing, with the money going to the Community Home Trust. But in this application for a special use permit, the developer proposed building half of the affordable housing units and making a payment in lieu for the other half, and designating the money to Habitat for Humanity, not the Community Home Trust. Habitat provides housing for households making between 30 and 65 percent of the area median income, whereas Community Home Trust targets those making 80 percent of the AMI.
But the fireworks began after the public comments ended. Council members were sharply, vehemently divided on whether to approve the rezoning request. Ed Harrison, Jim Ward, Penny Rich and Donna Bell stood fast for denying approval, some because they didn’t think the land should be developed at all. Gene Pease, Matt Czajkowski, Laurin Easthom and Mark Kleinschmidt favored approval, understanding that if the rezoning were denied, the developer could build a 17 single-family-home subdivision instead of the multifamily dwellings proposed. No one on the dais wanted the 17 single-family houses to be built.
Years ago, when the developer first requested a rezoning, an environmental impact comparison of a major subdivision vs. a multifamily project was developed. But a town council made up of different members would not allow the information to be presented for consideration. The current council members thought the comparison might help them make an informed decision.
So the town will resurrect the information, and the public hearing will resume June 20. You won’t want to miss it.
– Nancy Oates