Government

Coralville council advances plan to develop green space into condos

Neighbors, Planning and Zoning Commission oppose the proposal

A rendering of the zoning change (City of Coralville)
A rendering of the zoning change (City of Coralville)

CORALVILLE — Nearly 2 acres of green space on First Avenue near Country Club Drive could be developed for condominiums after the Coralville City Council on Tuesday passed the second of three considerations of a land use change over the objections of neighbors.

The council voted 5-1, with member Mitch Gross opposed, to change the use of the city-owned property from park/green space to medium-density residential. If approved, the density would allow up to 31 units on the property.

It also would increase the mix of housing styles in the area, adding condos to duplexes nearby now and townhomes being planned next door.

“While I genuinely share the concerns about the environmental impact — that was really one of the reasons why I struggled with my yes vote — because I love all of our green space in Coralville. I love all of our trees in Coralville. I don’t like to see them cut down. But this is consistent with what we have done in the past,” said council member Meghann Foster, who noted that her neighborhood, too, has a mix of housing styles.

Developer Gary Watts of the Watts Group plans to develop townhomes immediately to the west of the property. He hopes to purchase the public land in question to construct an owner-occupied condo building.

In addition to the land-use change, the developer would need to get the property rezoned as medium-density.

During the rezoning process, the developer must get four of five votes — rather than a simple majority — because the neighbors submitted a valid petition protesting the rezoning.

About two dozen neighbors signed the petition, sent emails and attended council meetings.

Many of the homes on Country Club Drive now are duplexes.

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“We consider this building incompatible with our neighborhood. We appreciate your consideration, and hope you will oppose this rezoning request,” according to the petition.

In an earlier petition to the Planning and Zoning Commission, the neighbors wrote the change “would have a drastic impact on the atmosphere and comity of our neighborhood.” They said they believed parkland is the appropriate use of the property.

The council has voted twice to approve the land-use change despite the Planning and Zoning Commission voting 5-1 for it to be denied.

“I’m keeping my no vote,” Gross said. “Speaking as a government teacher, Supreme Court decisions, there are what are called concurring opinions, where a justice agrees with the decision, but for different reasons. My reason for voting no is different than the reasoning out there.”

He said he voted against the change “because I don’t think this land should be used for anything.”

The final consideration of the land use amendment is expected during the council’s next meeting. That meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in Coralville City Hall.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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