Monday evening the Plymouth Common Council listened to John Myers, president of Garden Court Inc., make a request to rezone a 4-acre parcel immediately west of Martins Supermarket on East Jefferson Street for a multi-family residential development.

The proposal was to construct 3 residential buildings with 12 apartments in each one and an office building.  A third of the apartments would be permanent supportive housing units while the remaining 24 would be subsidized workforce housing. 

Myers said they started with 8 possible locations and narrowed their decision down to this lot because of the location. It’s next to a grocery store with a pharmacy, there is some additional shopping nearby along with easy access to the parks and trails, convenient for the middle school, junior high, and high school.

City council members had lots of questions for Garden Court including what the office building would be used for, whether was this a senior living development, whether would it be fenced-in, and access to police and fire.  Because a portion of the units are permanent supportive housing, members had some concerns with Garden Court’s Serenity Place which has had a lot of issues for the police and several incidental calls for the fire department.

Mayor Senter opened the floor to allow the public to speak on the rezoning request.  Linda Yoder from Unite Way is a team member for this project and said the idea started with trying to help families and individuals get out of the Red Rock Inn and Economy Inn.  She said the location is near the Career Center which would offer residents the opportunity to get additional training to improve their lives. 

City Attorney Sean Surrisi was also a team member and supported the project citing the need for affordable housing and supportive housing with additional services.

Eric Holsopple, Administrator of Saint Joseph Hospital in Plymouth asked council members to consider how this project will provide additional housing to the workforce which has been challenging to all types of businesses.  He encouraged them to think about how well the Garden Court projects are done and the impact the project could have on the local workforce.

Lots of local business owners spoke against the location of the residential project and not against the project itself.  John Oliver from Oliver Ford Lincoln told the council their challenge is to protect property values and determine if this is good planning for the future. 

Chris and Dave Morrow own a building across the street from the proposed rezoning and said commercial development is needed along Jefferson Street as an entrance into the city. 

Chuck Houin from 821 Car Wash had concerns with oversaturating the neighborhood with low-income housing plus there are no sidewalks and drainage issues.

Fred Webster was chairman of the Housing Authority for 20 years in Marshall County and managed rental property for 40 years.  He said rezoning the parcel will allow Garden Courts, a non-profit to take the property off the tax rolls.  He asked who would benefit from the project and told the city council the architect and the management company are the ones who will benefit from the project.  Webster also reminded all the council members that it is an election year and asked if they were going to listen to the taxpayers or the special interest group. 

After hearing from 13 individuals the motion was made to deny the request for rezoning and the council voted 6 to 1 with Don Ecker being the lone no vote.  The request was turned down and Garden Court will have to begin the process of looking for a new location for their project and apply for grant funds next year.