City plan raises worries

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

Some occupants of Troy’s residential neighborhoods expressed concern over the city’s draft of the Comprehensive Community Master Plan in a public meeting Thursday night.

In the neighborhood of Highland and University avenues, the draft recommends both revitalizing and conserving the district.

“We’ve looked at the activity produced by the university,” said Larry Watts, director of community planning. “We think some kind of transition from the university to the residential housing needs to be made.”

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But many residents in the area said they were opposed to building apartments or any type of university housing in their neighborhoods.

“It seems to me that’s the reason we have zoning, so that single-family housing can be single-family housing,” said Ed Stevens. “How does apartments create any better situation? How do they add to anything except traffic?”

Stevens and other residents attending said current property owners allowing college students to rent these homes are already diminishing the neighborhood.

Troy resident Pete Howard presented pictures to provide evidence to Watts of tenants allegedly breaking zoning laws.

“Tenants are completely in violation with our current zoning laws,” Howard said. “I was opposed to this about a year and a half ago and not I have changed my stance. I am very much opposed.”

KT Cole, who owns property on Highland and University avenues, said when he first visited this issue to try to build apartments in the neighborhood, 19 or 21 property owners signed to request rezoning.

“We, the people who own houses there, want the change,” Cole said.

Watts said studies for the neighborhood zoning proposals were done to see how the areas are currently used and what will be more marketable in future developments.

About 15 to 20 residents from Orange Street also came to the meeting to recommend their area become a preservation neighborhood.

Joan Wood, a resident of Orange Street, said she and her neighbors were concerned because the plan calls for that region to be a revitalization neighborhood.

“Residents of Orange Street feel strongly about having that street become part of the preservation district,” Wood said. “It’s because the character of the neighborhood needs to be preserved. It has houses that date back to the ’20s and ’30s, built in the cottage era.”

Wood said many of the homes are craftsman or English-style, which she would hate to see change.

According to the city plan, a revitalization neighborhood is an area with a “concentration of public and private improvements to infrastructure, services, residential, commercial and other properties to foster community development.”

Planning Commission Chairman Bill Hopper stressed this draft will not serve as any type of zoning change to the city, but it will be a guide in terms of the city’s future development.

Other major components of the plan call for making downtown Troy the heart of the city, developing the transportation and creating a stronger link between the university and downtown.

“We think a real important concept is a growing downtown,” Watts said.

Watts described the transportation system in Troy as “radial,” where all traffic feeds into the same place.

In hopes to remedy the situation, Watts said developing routes that could give alternate routes from Highway 231 would be one suggestion. Also, the plan calls to connect some streets and expand others.

After the public meeting, Watts said new recommendations will be reviewed and the plan will be redrafted for a Planning Commission public hearing, which will be held within 30 days.