University Heights council votes to change zoning for new condos

University Heights City Council members voted 4-1 Tuesday night in favor of changing a zoning ordinance that would allow for the proposed construction of a multi-million dollar condominium complex near Kinnick Stadium.

Around 50 people packed into the library of Horn Elementary School for Tuesday night's meeting. This was the second of three votes needed for the change to take effect.

The proposed six-story structure just off Melrose and Grand Avenue is being proposed by developer Jeff Maxwell and would include 80 condos and six businesses.

Nearly every University Heights citizen who spoke at the meeting expressed frustration with the city’s unwillingness to represent the opinion of the community.

Of the 18 people who spoke at the meeting, all but one expressed opposition to the proposed structure.

Speakers cited concerns with the scale of the development, the increased population density, increased traffic, and potential environmental harm caused to an adjacent ravine.

But it seemed that the main consensus of those who spoke at the meeting was that the city needs table the vote and slowdown on the decision in order to do more research.

A motion by council member Brennan McGrath to table the vote until November was opposed by all other council members.

McGrath stated that he received a voice message from Maxwell, essentially stating that if this change was not passed before December, Maxwell’s offer would no longer stand, and he would be moving on from the proposed development.

At the meeting, citizens presented a financial report that opposed council members’ argument that the development should be approved because the city is in need of revenue. They also called for 3D models of the the proposed structure to be provided by Maxwell.

Resident Alice Haugen presented an environmental impact report, as well several alternative plans for the development that would avoid altering an adjacent ravine.The council approved to pay for a community survey that is to be designed by Julie Andsager, a former president of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, in cooperation with a city council member and a citizen representative. Andsager guessed that the survey could be completed before the next city council meeting in November.

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