On Monday, June 12, the Thomson Corp. will go before the Plan Commission & Review Board seeking approval for their 80 unit condominium project, Brookhollow. Once again, this proposal pits an existing neighborhood against a developer.
So where is this property and what is the controversy? The property is the vacant parcel east of Brookfield Suites (former Embassy Suites) on Moorland Rd. and north of the new Pick 'N Save on Greenfield Ave. It was zoned residential until 1978 when it was rezoned to multifamily "contingent on access to Moorland Rd." In other words, if the property would have its own direct road to Moorland Rd. then its zoning could be increased to multifamily.
Since 1978, vacant properties on Moorland Rd. have all been developed with no thought to protecting a direct access to Moorland Rd. for the vacant Thomson property. Land to the south has been declared a wetland, and land to the west is existing single family. That means the landlocked, vacant parcel east of Moorland would remain single family zoning, right? Wrong! Because of some snafu, that language of requiring Moorland Rd. access was not included in the minutes of the meeting and therefore not binding.
Without its own access road, Brookhollow's 80 condo units--if approved--will use existing Hackberry Lane as their entry road. Eighty condo units could translate to 160 more cars making who knows how many trips a day on the only access road to the existing neighborhood.
The neighborhoods that will be affected by Brookhollow did everything right to protest: they organized, wrote letters, met with the mayor, got experts involved to study water quality issues, etc., but to no avail. Their letters to various city departments were shuffled to other departments and ignored!
If you recall another controversial condo project, Capitol Heights, became an issue during the last campaign. Two aldermen, Brunner and Schellinger--both voted out of office--stated they "regretted" their vote in favor of that project after the fact. (I have heard that Capitol Heights has not sold as quickly as anticipated and so VK has not proceded with the next phase of that project.) I hope Brookhollow will not be another Capitol Heights.
What can be done? District 7 Alderman Lisa Mellone is requesting the size and scope of Brookhollow be scaled back to be more in keeping with the existing adjacent single family residential neighborhoods. The number of units could be cut back as well as the type. The proposed 2 story, 900 sq. ft. condos with underground parking will not blend in with the existing neighborhood as well as fewer, 4 family condo units would. The housing market is not as hot as it once was, so why approve 80 units only to have them remain vacant and become rental property?
Please email the Plan Commission members and request this project be scaled back and water quality issues be examined before approval is given. The Thomson Corp. was very good about accomodating the adjacent neighborhood to their Pick 'N Save complex. We can at least try for that compromising attitude again. Correction: You may attend the Plan Commission meeting, but there is not an opportunity to speak at the meeting.