Government

Homeless housing rezoning gets final approval

A rezoning notice was posted at 1200 Edgewood Road NW, site of the proposed CommonBond Crestwood Ridge Apartments develo
A rezoning notice was posted at 1200 Edgewood Road NW, site of the proposed CommonBond Crestwood Ridge Apartments development, in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids City Council rejected calls to separate the final two votes on an affordable housing complex in a northwest neighborhood to different days, finalizing the necessary rezoning Tuesday.

This ends more than a year of heated and contentious debate and two rounds of votes for Crestwood Ridge Apartments, a 45-unit apartment complex that will include five units for the chronically homeless. CommonBond Communities, a St. Paul, Minn.-based affordable- housing developer, plans to build the complex on a 1.98-acre lot at 1200 Edgewood Rd. NW adjacent the northwest fire station and near Jackson Elementary.

“The second time through, planning commissioners and city councilors realized we were trying to accommodate concerns, and we weren’t just trying to ignore the neighbors,” said Justin Eilers, a project manager for CommonBond. “We plan to continue doing outreach to neighbors. We are looking forward to having the development move forward.”

The City Council rejected the rezoning in October 2016, but decided the design had changed substantially enough to get a second chance. Council members voted 6-2 for a second and third reading Tuesday to give final approval for the rezoning. Pat Shey, Justin Shields, Ralph Russell, Ann Poe, Susie Weinacht and Scott Overland voted in support. Mayor Ron Corbett and Scott Olson were opposed, and Kris Gulick abstained.

CommonBond still needs approval of final designs and a building permit before construction can proceed.

Eilers laid out a tentative timeline of closing on the property, which is owned by the city, in the next few months, and beginning construction in the fall. Construction should take about a year, so the first tenants could be moving in fall 2018, Eilers said. CommonBond has a purchase agreement for $280,000.

One of the factors elevating the attention surrounding the Crestwood Ridge project was its selection by the Iowa Finance Authority as a demonstration site for homeless housing. The selection came with an $8 million federal tax credit.

Eilers said the project still is on track to meet benchmark deadlines to get the tax credits.

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The units will be assigned as follows: 29 units at 60 percent area median income or below, seven units at 40 percent area median income or below, five units at 30 percent area median income or below — targeting formerly homeless families — and four units at market rate.

The noon meeting on Tuesday drew only a handful of opponents and supporters after dozens filled the council chambers for a three-hour public hearing and first vote May 23. On Tuesday, those opposed urged City Council to separate the second and third votes to different dates.

“I’d like to ask on behalf of the many neighbors who were not able to attend a noon meeting, the council separates the second and third reading,” Mike Myers said. “Have the third at a later time of day when more people can attend. We feel that is a fair request after all that has been done to accommodate CommonBond.”

Another neighbor said several issues still had to be addressed before the final decision was made.

City Council members rejected the requests.

Ordinance changes in Cedar Rapids require three votes or readings for passage. Typically, a public hearing and first vote are held at one meeting, while the second and third votes are combined as one at a second meeting.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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