SPRINGDALE — The Planning Commission on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a rezoning of a property and its large-scale development plan for a new multi-family development.
Nearly 14 acres on the southeast corner of the intersection of Bob Mills Road and Oak Grove Road held a zoning designation for multi-family structures allowing 16 units per acre.
Tom Hennelly, vice president of Crafton Tull and Associates, asked the commission to change a multi-family zoning to a planned unit development.
Rick Barry, assistant director of the planning department, explained that a planned unit development essentially creates a contract between the developer and the city. The contract – or development plan – details exactly what the developer will do in relation to building and maintaining the property in the future.
“Essentially allows the developer to write what they think is the best way to do things,” Barry said. “Now there are still things to work out, but the developer and the city are working together to develop the plan. It protects the city and keeps things moving forward.”
Plans can be as detailed as cars are allowed to be parked on the street or whether a tree should be planted by the developer but replaced by the owner if it dies after the one-year warranty on the tree, said Barry.
Hennelly’s project, the Ramsey in Springdale, provides 272 multi-family units on 14 acres.
These units will be supported by 441 parking spaces, says the development plan.
The city needs 1.1 parking spaces per room in a development, and the development would have 389 rooms, noted Patsy Christie, director of the planning department.
The city would need 429 parking spaces for this project, but the plan shows 441 spaces, Hennelly said.
Ramsey’s development plan also says the owner will hire a property management company to manage the property once residents move in.
“What’s great is that the planned unit development ensures Springdale residents have the highest quality development possible with the rules in place,” Barry said. “We know exactly what the developer is going to do from the start.”
“The city can be assured of what it’s getting,” Christie said. “We know what it’s going to look like.”
The design of structures is also indicated in a planned development unit. The developer’s inability on Tuesday to provide the city with accurate drawings or descriptions was one of the issues that led to the filing of the Shiloh Meadows development, a planned subdivision for the southeast corner of the intersection of Preston Street and East Huntsville Avenue.
Adam Daughtery, representing Silver Leaf Properties, was unable to show the Planning Commission photos of what the 134 single-family homes or 20 townhouses would look like.
The details of each planned unit development should also be read in the minutes of the commission meeting, as Christie did.
But she also asked Daughtery questions.
For example, the development plan stated that homes should have a maximum of 800 square feet of living space on the ground floor and 1,300 on the upper floor, with a total maximum of 3,000 square feet including space for a garage.
But the development plan does not specify whether all houses must be two stories.
Then the covenants set for the community stated that the developer of an individual lot had the right to alter the design of the houses.
“You’re asking us to approve what the houses will look like without showing us what they will look like,” Christie said. “You have kind of vague details about what the developer is going to build.”
Christie said city council must approve a planned unit development in the form of an ordinance.
Once a planned unit development has been approved, it cannot be changed without review and re-approval of the entire development plan by the Planning Commission and City Council.
“When I go to vote on a PUD, I look at a lot of things,” said planning commission member Mark Cloud. “But it’s hard to do when there are no answers. I’m not against development and not against a PUD. I would like to go further. But this is the last time the city will will examine.”
With conventional zoning and minimum building standards, city staff from various departments review plans at several stages before it is approved for construction.
A planned unit development approves the architectural process and the full-scale construction plan at the same time, Cloud noted.
Barry said traditional zoning does not safely maintain as pleasant a development as possible.
The Shiloh Meadows development plan stated that the developer, in 30 years, would turn over the care of the development’s streets and public spaces to the owners’ association.
“A PUD won’t let you put off maintaining streets and spaces,” Christie said. “The plan is to maintain ownership in perpetuity.”