Monday, February 12, 2007

TOP STORY >>Subdivision rejected by commission

IN SHORT: About 75 Beebe residents oppose the building of 18 new homes.

Leader staff writer

The 18 houses a group of Beebe-area developers wanted to build on about three and a half acres were called by three different names during a Tuesday night meeting of the Beebe Planning Commission – garden homes, patio homes and zero lot-line homes.

But the 75 or so area residents who turned out to protest the houses going up in their neighborhood called them something else – duplexes, triplexes and apartment buildings. They told the commission they didn’t want them and the commission listened, voting unanimously to not recommend approval for the subdivision to the city council.

However, the subdivision will still go before the city council when it meets Feb. 26, said Leonard Fort, the city code enforcer. And Jason Scheel, the planning commission chairman, told the residents they should attend if they wanted their views heard.
Tim Lemons, a Cabot engineer representing developers Cathy Eoff, Gary Welch and Phillip Singleton, told the planning commission and residents of Dugger Road and the Fetcher Addition that the houses would be a minimum of 1,515 square-feet with mostly brick exteriors, architect shingles, stainless steel appliances, solid countertops and high ceilings. They would appraise for $110 a foot and sell for $151,500 to $176,440.

Lemons said he couldn’t guarantee that some of the houses wouldn’t be rented for a month or two but no one would be interested in renting long term because the rent would be $1,700 a month.

He also pointed out that the Algonquin subdivision in Grey-stone has not caused any problems for Cabot’s most exclusive neighborhood and that River Oaks in Searcy also has been a success.

But the Beebe residents countered that Searcy and Cabot have golf courses to attract people who want to live in homes where the yards are maintained by someone else. Beebe has nothing to attract people like that.

“Who in their right mind would go and spend $170,000 for a glorified duplex?” one resident asked. “If you’ve got $170,000, build a house.”

“What is a garden home?” an-other asked. “Two families in the same home is a duplex.”
And another counted six connected houses on one lot and demanded that Lemons acknowledge that she was correct in her assumption.

“Six houses connected is an apartment complex,” she said.
Still others, including members of the planning commission, questioned the $110 a foot appraisals for the houses.
Houses in Beebe appraise for less than $90 a foot, so the $110 has to be inflated, they said.

If the council overrules the planning commission, the Glenn Abbey subdivision will be the city’s first planned development district.

Currently the site of the planned subdivision is zoned R-1 for single-family homes. The planned development district would be a rezoning, which the council does not have to grant.

In theory, a planned development district protects neighbors because the plans can’t be changed once they are approved.

Lemons told the residents that since the acreage is R-1 now, there is nothing to prevent developers from building small, inexpensive houses covered in nothing but vinyl siding. That would devalue their property just as they feared, he said.