University Ave request meets opposition

Published 12:27 am Friday, February 26, 2010

A request to divide a University Avenue property in thirds and build additional homes was tabled at the Troy Planning Commission meeting Thursday, after stumbling into opposition.

The proposal would split a nearly 4-acre property at 905 University Ave. into three lots and allow for the construction of two additional homes. There is already one home located on the plat.

Those in opposition cited traffic issues, privacy and current zoning enforcement as concerns with the landowner’s proposal.

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“It’s simply a bad plan,” said Pete Howard, resident of 929 University Avenue. “The placement of such houses infringes greatly upon the privacy of the people in the houses.”

Howard presented the commission with a petition opposing the request signed by 58 of the neighborhood’s residents.

“They are not just property owners but residents,” Howard said.

Another concern with the plan was the access to these new homes. In the proposal, there would be a narrow driveway to allow for the passage of both new residences onto University Avenue. The other home would be separated with a gate and have its entryway onto Woodley Avenue.

Howard and others said they also were concerned the property owner Dillion Johnson was in violation of current zoning laws, alleging multiple college students reside in the single-family neighborhood.

“905 University Avennue is not currently a residence. It is in fact a college dormitory,” Howard said. “I say that as a college professor who has gone to college and taught at the college level. I have nothing against the current tenants, but before you do anything, you would want to ascertain what is really going on over there.”

Property owner Johnson said the tenants who live there currently are two sisters and another student. “With the houses there, I’m in no violation of any zoning laws,” he said.

David St. John, who resides directly across from Johnson’s, said he was opposed to the proposal for concerns of who would live in the new homes.

“Subdividing properties creates a means to earn a decent return,” St. John said.

“The question is who will be attracted to smaller, cheaper properties.”

With a property divided in thirds, St. John said he was concerned the types of houses would be built for college students.

St. John said he’s currently impacted by noise and traffic lights of the tenants coming and going.

Mike Hughes, a resident of Woodley Avenue, said noise often keeps him awake, as well.

“I was worried there would be the same thing with two other houses built there,” Hughes said.

“I don’t want that to be dormitories for college students.”

Johnson said he would guarantee to sell those houses to a single-families, rather than rent the properties.

“I understand the concern with the college crowd coming in there. I would put it in writing to never rent those two houses, ever,” Johnson said.

But, whether Johnson rented or sold homes aren’t matters of the Planning Commission’s authority.

“There’s nobody on this board that doesn’t sympathize with your concerns,” said board member Marv Dillard. “We are legally required to approve this. It fits the zone they are requesting, and as far as enforcement, we can’t do that.”

After city planner and board member Calvin Lott said he would like to see plans of where the houses will face, the commission voted to delay the request until next month.

“I would like to see how those houses face and what size they are going to be,” Lott said.