A group of Bench residents are planning a petition to express their displeasure with a large area of land now clear cut for residential development and since rezoned for higher density.
The seven-acre parcel just south of Uplands Elementary has been in Colleen Froese’s family for decades.
When she first inherited the property, she wanted to donate part of it to the city, however, the city told her that putting in more homes was a better fit with the official community plan.
Council has now voted unanimously to rezone the parcel from R1 single family residential to the R3 multifamily.
Froese is planning to sell the land to a developer who would build high-density housing such as townhouses or duplexes.
But at the rezoning public hearing, nearby residents expressed concern about increased traffic on Lanfear Hill and how high density housing would change the character of what is currently an area of single family homes.
Clint Budden spoke to council about how he felt insufficiently informed about what was happening and that he was shocked there wasn’t a more detailed development plan given to local residents.
“Golden and Temple and others were never pressured to go R3,” said Budden about the city’s policy toward other streets on the Bench.
“Everyone is expecting property values getting lower. I got chased off of Straume because of the crime. I didn’t want to stay there and property values weren’t high,” he said, expressing his wish that the area he moved to not suffer that fate.
Colleen Bing said she found the communication from the city to be seriously lacking, with a map of the Twedle property showing no detail about what it would look like once it was rezoned and developed.
She said Uplands students used to play on the property and that she is sad to see the city pass up a chance for donated parkland.
“I think our property value has gone down,” said Bing.
Both she and Budden wish the city had accepted Froese’s original offer to donate a portion of the property as a memorial for her parents.
Speaking by email, the city said the offer wasn’t for the whole property.
“Colleen did discuss a possible donation of some land, not the entire six acres, for a park use,” said city official Alisa Thompson. “Staff also discussed alternative options for Colleen to do something that would leave a memorial or legacy to the community for her parents. She has chosen to contribute to various scholarships through financial donations in her parents’ memory.”
Council members, in debating the rezoning application, were in agreement about the need to address traffic flow concerns on the Bench.
But they also said, in approving the application, that there was a need for more housing in general and that the Bench area is viewed as a desirable location.