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Neighbors oppose 144-unit apartment complex near Simon Middle School

Posted: June 13, 2014 - 4:47pm

About 10 concerned neighbors came to a public information meeting Thursday night in the Simon Middle School cafeteria to discuss a two-story, 144-unit apartment complex proposed for a lot on Bill Lucy Drive, about 200 feet from Simon Middle School.

People who live within 200 feet of the proposed property were notified by mail of the public information meeting. Most of those in attendance received a letter.

Project Architect Terry Burruss said currently the site plans for the apartment complex include 64 one-bedroom units and 82 two-bedroom units.

The proposed Conway apartment complex is being modeled after a similar project the developer, Green Meadow Properties, is building in Fort Smith, called the Reserve at Chaffee Crossing.

The apartment complex has a central road loop in the interior of the complex with a clubhouse and pool in the center of the facility.

“They maintain ownership of their property so they pay attention to sound boarding, they use good materials and occupant control,” Burruss said.

The perimeter is landscaped with a walking trail, with 46-48 percent of the property designated as green space.

When neighbors asked why the developers want to build apartments in an area that is surrounded by single family housing, Burruss said market studies show there’s a need for apartments.

Although neighbors claim surrounding apartments such as the Pointe at Conway, Stone Ridge at Conway and Park Ridge at Conway still have vacancies.

Green Meadow Properties representatives said the rent would range from $750-$875, and the apartments would not be available as subsidized housing.

Homeowners had very strong concerns about the apartment complex causing home value depreciation, asking the developer if he’d be interested in buying their homes, because if the complex is built they won’t be able to sell them.

The developer said the similar project in Fort Smith has a subdivision of $300,000 homes being built across the street, and eight of the homes have already been sold.

“If this project gets turned down, we’d still like to have a presence in Conway,” the developer said. “We wouldn’t be going into a $7 million project, if we didn’t think it would be successful.”

When talking about possible conditions to put on the planned unit development, one of the neighbors talked about how Bill Lucy Road was torn up with potholes.

A representative with the city planning department said impact fees could be dedicated to fixing the road associated with the development.

The developer said he would pay about $175,000 in impact fees to be dedicated to roads and city parks for the proposed 144-unit apartment complex.

Both parties were in favor of dedicating the impact fees to the project if it were to be approved by the city planning commission and city council.

Neighbors also wanted to make sure landscaping along the road in front of the complex would camouflage the development as much as possible with built up mounds and canopy trees.

“We know this isn’t going to go away,” a neighbor said. “Our wish is that it’s single family homes just like all the rest of us.”

The neighbors said they plan to “organize” for upcoming meetings involving the decision to rezone the land for the apartment complex.

The neighbors and developers will have another opportunity to state their case for or against the apartment complex at the planning commission meeting Monday night at 7 p.m. in the District Court Building at 810 Parkway Ave.

The planning commission will also discuss the widening of a single-family lot at 3480 Irby Drive to allow for possible, future single-family development.

The final decision to rezone the lot at 1600 Bill Lucy Drive for the 144-unit apartment complex will take place at the city council meeting Tuesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the District Court Building.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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