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Developer Agrees to Some Neighbors' Concessions, Taylor Mill Approves Farm Expansion

The Taylor Mill Commission passed a zoning change Monday night at a special meeting to change a 6.8-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Farm apartment complex from DTM-1 and R-1C to R-2.

The land, which is behind the Remke grocery, was originally zoned DTM-1 because it was unclear at the time where the new road was being located. Residents on Redbud and Winston Hill  have had concerns about the project because the proposed $7.5 million addition will include three 24-unit apartment buildings and they will be located behind their property. The first reading of an ordinance changing the zoning was read at the regular meeting on May 11. Planning and Zoning reviewed the issue and sent it back to the city with no recommendation, and according to state statute, the city had to make a decision within 90 days, or by June 1.

Jim Cohen, from Commercial Management Corporation, which is buying the property to extend the Farm apartments, was present at both the earlier meeting and this meeting to try and reassure the residents about his efforts to be a good neighbor, and to get a decision on the property so he could move forward on the project.

About eight residents attended the meeting and left the talking to Bill and Jane Frantz, who live on Redbud.   

Jane Frantz stood to speak and listed the items she wanted Cohen to agree to. Mainly she listed that the dumpsters be located in a certain area and be enclosed, that the excavation be no closer than 15 feet from the property line, that trees be marked with a drip line to preserve roots, that the Frantzes be notified if any trees other than Ash trees have to be taken down on the property line, and if any tree on the property line dies within four years that Cohen will replace them. They also wanted fencing to remind the new residents where their property begins.

These were in addition to sidewalks and other conditions which the zoning standards will require.

Cohen responded, saying he would include the dumpster requirement, the 15-ft. excavation limit, the drip line marking, and replacing any trees that die within 4 years from the commencement of the project, excluding Ash trees, which he agreed to cut down if they were dead along the property line. As far as not having a building closer than 40 feet from the property line, Cohen said he wasn't sure because they haven't looked at the property that closely yet.

"The first thing I am going to do is a geotechnical report," he stated. "The second thing is to survey the trees. As far as the fencing, I don't know if people will cut through there. There is a 12 foot grade that is wooded. If it becomes a major concern we can put signs up. But this is a preliminary plan. We will have everything listed in our final development plan."

Jane Frantz showed the commissioners and Mayor Dan Bell pictures that they took recently showing a camp in the woods, and more trash which they said came from the apartment complex, a reason why a fence should be installed. Commissioner Dan Murray said he thought the fence could be what they call a farm fence, with stakes that only take two people to pound in, and the fencing wasn't expensive, probably only about $40 for 50 feet. He added that the price could vary depending on the coating.  

Cohen responded saying he could possibly reimburse neighbors up to $500 for fencing in their location. Bill Frantz said that they should consider that the project would be $7.5 million, and they were fighting over a $500 fence. Cohen then upped his offer, saying he would offer neighbors $1,000 toward fencing. At one point Jane Frantz quipped, "make it $1,500 and you have a deal."

In the end, the commissioners and the mayor expressed their approval of the plan.

"If I was going to have fencing, I would rather pick it out myself," said Mayor Bell. "I have to give Mr. Cohen credit for trying." He smiled. "It does seem like we are on the fence here."

The vote was taken and it was unanimous, but Dan Murray said he would like to be on record that the Taylor Mill Commission worked with developers, a sentiment that the other commissioners agreed with.  

Mayor Bell thanked the residents for their hard work and time, and thanked Jim Cohen for his flexibility.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Jane Frantz (RCN)