Rezoning proposal still a controversial issue

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By Jason Ruff

The Meridian Times

A rezoning proposal put before the Meridian Planning Commission is drawing a lot of criticism.

The proposal, submitted by Forsberg Real Estate Company, calls for a rezoning of 41.4 acres just north of Jolly Road from RR (rural residential) to C-2 (commercial). The goal of the intended project is to create an area of mixed-use planning development, which is a combination of high-density commercial and residential buildings in a C-2 zone.

The primary focus of the criticism centers on the proposed rezoning of six acres of land along Kansas Road from RR (rural residential) to C-2 (commercial).  The commission’s meeting on March 24 drew a large crowd, many of whom were opposed to the rezoning.

Steve Freemire voices his opposition to the proposed rezoning

Steve Freemire voices his opposition to the proposed rezoning

 

Steve Freemire, a Meridian resident, wanted to see the rezoning along Kansas Road cut from the project.

“It’s not harmonious with the present street,” Freemire said. “We have 12 housing units on Kansas Road and the options that have been laid out, right now the developer wants to put 60 units on Kansas Road.”

According to Freemire, such high-density zoning just would not work with the surrounding area, which is also rural residential.

“It would be like parking canoes in a yacht area… It just doesn’t fit,” said Freemire.

Ann Zimmerman, also a Meridian resident, put it more bluntly.

“I don’t want this urban, huge, dense development plopped in my backyard,” Zimmerman said.

Brent Forsberg, president of T.A. Forsberg Inc., the company spearheading the proposal, said that the high density is needed to offset the cost of the project’s many amenities.

 

“The reason why we have requested the density is because what we’d offer the township was a large trail system that connected to the current cross-country pathway system,” Forsberg said. “In order to do that, and then do the rain gardens and some of the other major park systems that we’re looking at dedicating back to the township, to pay for them we need higher density to offset some of the costs.”

Forsberg would be hesitant, however, to cut out the development of land boarding Kansas Road from the proposal to reach a compromise with critics. He explained that to do so would sever one of the major connections to the existing trail system. The idea of the trails, Forsberg said, is to provide a connection from residential areas to commercial districts.

The commission is still deadlocked on the rezoning.  While many on the commission are concerned with the high-density development of the six acres, they cannot agree on a resolution.

“We haven’t come to a consensus,” said John Scott-Craig, chair of the planning commission.

Further complicating matters is the fact the commission does not have the power to negotiate with a developer. A proposal must be either accepted or rejected as presented.

“We have some issues about exactly what the possible ways of moving forward are and that’s what the staff is going to be researching for us,” said Scott-Craig.

The commission hopes to have a decision by its next meeting on April 13.

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