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Crestwood ridge apartments: right idea, wrong location

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Gary Bute, guest columnist

The proposed Crestwood Ridge Apartment complex has received a lot of attention recently, but the neighbors of the development have not been given the same courtesy. Recent articles have wholeheartedly backed the proposed development without any regard to the very real problems associated with it.

A petition with 215 signatures was given to the City of Cedar Rapids that spells out these issues and our objections. These are the same issues that were brought to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which denied the rezoning request 6 to 1. However, the city and Developer CommonBond continue to move forward with this unsuitable plan for our neighborhood.

Proximity to Edgewood Road and an already treacherous intersection is a main concern for the neighbors. Per the city, approximately 20,000 vehicles pass by this unprotected intersection daily and there are no plans for any stop light or improvements. With the building being planned to butt up to Edgewood Road and Crestwood Drive, the additional traffic from its 45 units and 75 parking spaces will only exacerbate the problem. Add to this the fact that a brand-new fire station was built on that same property and they will have to run the gauntlet of the additional traffic as well.

Neighbors have sat behind fire trucks and witnessed the problems they have, attempting to get out onto Edgewood Road, with the current traffic. Not will this project risk the lives of the extra people using the intersection, but also risk slowing down the response time of the fire department.

Crestwood Road is not paved and does not have storm sewers. There are no sidewalks on the street and no future plans for street/sidewalk improvements by the city. A complex of this planned size will most certainly house many children. With no safe way to walk to nearby Jackson School (which is very full) or the park, they will be forced to walk in the street. The bus stop at the site sits at the bottom of a dangerous hill and busses stopped there, or cars turning right, are always in danger of being rear-ended.

This three-story, 45 unit building will occupy a lot of only 1.98 acres. To say that this building will be “shoe horned” onto the property, would be an understatement. With the average lot size in the immediate area of 1.1 acres, the dissimilarity of this project in our neighborhood is plain to see. The only apartment complex we have nearby sits on 8.95 acres, with 72 units, giving the Crestwood Ridge project a density of almost three times more. That makes the lot suitable for approximately 15 units. CommonBond says they need 45 units to make it affordable. That disparity in size alone, makes it inappropriate for the lot. In fact, previous attempts to rezone this land by other developers were denied due to the density issue.

Neighbors to the south have had to deal with increased flooding problems since the construction of the new fire station and adding an additional acre of impervious area to the lot will only increase the runoff. We understand that the city has a lot of property to dispose of, especially because of the flood. But selling such a small lot to CommonBond Communities, for a project this large, is not only thoughtless, but irresponsible. The city needs to focus on the many existing areas of concern, and work on fixing the infrastructure before adding any other households to this tiny corner lot. If the safety and security of its residents are its primary concern, as quoted by Justin Eilers of CommonBond Communities, then they will put a stop to this project at its current location and find a more appropriate and safe spot for this worthy cause.

• Gary Bute is a native Iowan and longtime resident of the Crestwood Dr. NW neighborhood.

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