Guest Columnists

Neighbors are right to stand against developments

I must respond to the article in the April 12 Gazette titled “Developments Denied”. All I can say to the neighborhoods that banded together to stop these projects is, “Good for you!” If you have a predominantly single family neighborhood, particularly in an older part of the city, an apartment complex is the last thing you want built there. When the project is new there may not be a lot of problems. As the complex ages and changes ownership several times, the place will become run down. That is when the “neighborhood redevelopment” takes the inevitable turn for the worse. Good tenants won’t live there. The owners will have to lower their standards to keep their building occupied, so sketchy people move in. Drugs and crime follow and your single residence property values drop.

I am speaking from personal experience. I bought my home in 1978. At that time it was the only house I could afford in a neighborhood I wanted to live in. The neighborhood is zoned R1 single family, but the property directly behind me had a zoning variance and is a seven-unit efficiency complex. The property one lot to the West also had a zoning variance and is a 12-unit complex.

While I have maintained and improved my home to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars more than what my house is worth, upgrading at the apartments has not kept pace. Several elderly ladies that had lived in the efficiency for decades left. Then the parade of drug dealers and alcoholics started. A few years ago one of the efficiency tenants kidnapped and raped a female clerk from the local convenience store. There was a drug arrest in our backyard by Cedar Rapids Police and a federal marshal. There have been multiple police calls for domestic disturbances, a fire call because of a careless tenant with a lit cigarette, and constant traffic in and out of the apartments at all hours of the night by more and different vehicles than have ever lived there. We have drunks coming to our door asking to borrow money. The tenants try to use our yard like it is a public park. We have cars and motorcycles driven through our yard, and fireworks shot off in our yard. Dumpster divers trespass back and forth through our yard between the two apartment dumpsters. They tear open all the trash bags and leave loose trash to blow all over our neighborhood. We have been robbed four times, and had to install an alarm system and a video system. Even after that, I was called to the Police Station for a narcotics officer to tell me that a drug informant told him my house was targeted for another break-in. The informant even gave the officer my name and address.

Apartments are needed but they should be in planned areas that are zoned for multiple family living. Putting them in single family neighborhoods is a recipe for disaster.

• Richard Rozinek has lived in Cedar Rapids for 42 years, 38 of those in his current neighborhood.



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