Presentation for the Developers at the City Council Hearing

On The Proposed Jonesboro Village Development Called Greensborough Village (A UN Agenda 21 Development)

  September 16, 2014

 

An Amendment  was adopted at the beginning of this city council meeting,  but the decision to approve or disapprove the village development  was postponed with a "postpone temporary" vote.  Only two aldermen voted against the postponement of the village development, Vance and Frierson. That amendment can be found at this link: http://jonesboro.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3258474&GUID=0D5C6167-DF9F-4BD8-B052-49F236E99EA0

 

 

Mayor Perrin:  Thank you.  Okay.  All right.  We will have the side FOR to speak on that.  If you would you please come to the mic and state your name and address for the record.

(Downham's  presentation to the Metropolitan Area Planning Committee (MAPC) was more thorough.    You can find that presentation at this link. http://www.wpaag.org/Agenda%2021-Village%20MAPC%20Mtg%20Transcribed%208-12-14.html   The MAPC voted unanimously to approve the village development.  At this city council meeting, the vote was delayed again on its 3rd reading.)

Charles Downham (an engineer with Nashville-based Littlejohn Engineers) Mayor and members of the council,  my name is Charles Downham, Chief Operating Officer for Littlejohn Engineers  Associates based in Nashville, Tennessee.  If it is okay with you, I would like to take the five minutes allocated to try to address some of the key points that have been raised tonight by citizens as well as members of the council.

 

I'll start with the multifamily reduction which was announced and was acted on with the amendment which you have before you. The developer was very much in concurrence with that -  after  having met with the school board, it was determined that in order to address the impacts of the population that could result from multifamily that it was best to try reduce the amount of multifamily; and in doing so we have curtailed the residential development of this property to 70% single family, which could be single family detached homes, much like what most of you'll probably live in, as well as town homes.  And that the remaining balance of residential, 30%, would be multifamily.  What that does, it significantly reduces the amount of residential development that will likely take place within the property, and that was done voluntarily and through the initiation of the applicants themselves.

 

One of the other things that I try to qualify in that is the amount of residential development that might take place over the top of ground floor retail for office building, to try to limit the number of stories for residential to take place above that, again with the intent of trying to manage residential growth and the impact it could  potentially have on the community -  although we have found through our experiences in our firm that mixed use development, where you have a mix of residential typologies as well as residential above ground retail, that they are in fact very attractive in terms of bringing in retail and office space but also that they pay for themselves in terms of the tax base.

There was a question raised about common open space.  I'll address that by saying that one of the things the developer will initiate as part of the planned development process is the creation of a property owners' association.  We've seen a lot of different versions of how that takes place.  It could be a single entity that manages all the real estate within the project, or it could be a residential property owners' association or a non residential property association or whatever the mechanism is that they bring forth. The intent is to manage all the property within there and also to set out certain assessments so that the common open space, the green space, plazas, etc. will all be well cared for, manicured, etc. so that they don't become a burden to the city of Jonesboro.

There was a question raised about traffic studies.  I appreciate councilman Vance's comment on the planned development requirements, and I'm sure the city attorney as well as the planning director, correct me if I am wrong, the Town Overlay District provides very clear guidance in terms of the traffic study.  The traffic study is part of the planned development package.  That package is going to include subdivision plats, planned ____________, you have a guideline book that is part of this rezoning amendment compilation; all that is wrapped up and inclusive of a traffic study as well.  So any phase of the development the council is going to have that traffic study before any of that development is allowed to take place. 

In terms of pedestrian crossings, one of the things that we as are very sensitive to, as well is the traffic consultant, is to make sure that the development itself is very pedestrian friendly.  There is a very good question raised about how you get people from one side of the road to another.  And that is getting done through a number of different means, probably most common which is signalized intersections where you have a pedestrian crossing that is integrated as part of the design of that intersection.  We could show you countless examples in and around the Nashville area;  and we can show you countless examples all throughout the state of Arkansas  where you have two lane, three lane , four lane, as much as five lane cross sections where you have controlled access from one side of the street to the other to allow pedestrians to cross from one side to the other.  From our perspective we will introduce those traffic calming measures, those pedestrian crossing measures to make sure people can get from one side of the street to the other so that it is a true mixed use environment as people live, work and play there.

In terms of residential densities as I pointed out, the  residential densities  because of the amendment tonight, we will see less residential development taking place within the project.  If you do the simple math in terms of what is allowed,  50% of the  land mass could  be devoted to residential use.  We will then make sure that the zoning lots,  the zoning lots requirement etc. are all in accordance with the requirements as well as the provisions set out specifically in the Town Center Overlay which very clearly stipulates minimum lot size, _______requirements. We will make sure all the lots conform to those requirements.

But a key point there in terms of residential densities is that we want to make sure there is the required mix of housing. This is not just a single family neighborhood; it's not just a multifamily development. This is a mix of housing because if you go around the community, you see a mix of housing.  People want the opportunity to be able to start their life with an affordable unit, but they may also want to make the choice themselves to live in that same community throughout much of their lives.  We can show you countless examples of projects not only in the Southeast and throughout the United States where you have families that make a conscious choice to go into a community, and that's where they stay for their entire life.  They have generations that move on, and they live in that same community.  You sit back and you look at Jonesboro as a whole, you have a lot of people that make a commitment, a choice to live in Jonesboro itself. They may live on one side of the community vs another; but they made the choice to live within the same part of the community.  We want to be able to provide people that opportunity within Greensborough Village. 

In terms of the planning process itself, I'll say that a lot of care and attention has been given by the applicant in the planning of this particular community.  It toured a lot of communities, not only around the Nashville area where I work; they have gone to great lengths to make sure that the community they're trying to create is one that is going to have a lot of value to the community as a whole; it's going to be a place where people are going to be attracted to live there but also more importantly where people want to invest in this community;  they're going to want to invest in terms of a place where they work; they're going to want to bring the businesses there; they're going to  want to raise their families in a community like this.  So a lot of attention has been given to this;  and as you see the process evolve over time, you will see a lot of that same time and attention being given to each phase of the project as it moves forward.

I'll close on the one other point that was mentioned in terms of the phasing strategy.  When the zoning takes place on this property, we certainly recommend that you move forward favorably with it, you won't see development happen overnight on this project.  It's going to take multiple years of commitment and investment on the part of the developer and the development community as a whole.  Each of those phases of development, unlike the subdivision process as well as the planning development  process, all have very specific requirements, including bonding  requirements on all  public infrastructure.  So roads, utilities, etc. as each of those phases of development occur,  you will see bonding that will be required as part of the development process.  The developer of that particular phase will be required to post those bonds.  In the event that the developer defaults on the commitment, those bonds can be liquidated whether it is a letter of credit or whatever means that they have as means of providing assurances.  All those could be used basically so the city does not have  to solve _______. So again the city does not have any obligation.  It's the developer that has the responsibility not only through their own  requirements but also by the sureties that are required as part of the process.

Mayor, I would be happy to address any other questions.  See this link for full meeting transcript (to be added later)