There was lots of interest in the rezoning request of Garden Courts to change an 8-acre agricultural parcel behind Webster School from R-2 Suburban Residential zoning to an R-4 Multi-Family Residential zoning district.     

An overflow crowd packed the City Council Chambers in City Hall Tuesday night. The capacity of the room was capped at 66 and Plan Director Ralph Booker counted 33 individuals watching the meeting in the city’s conference room.  City Attorney Jeff Houin said there were 48 people watching the meeting as it was being streamed live. 

Plan Commission members were to consider the rezoning request by looking at the Plymouth Comprehensive Plan and other studies and reports. Members were to consider the conditions and character of current structures and uses in the area.  They also had to consider if rezoning was the most desirable use for the land, if it was responsible growth for the city and impact to property values.   

City Planning Consultant Ralph Booker detailed Garden Court’s plan to construct 4 to 6 apartment buildings along with a community facility that will have a manager’s office, spaces for therapy, a community room, computer room and community pantry.  The plan also has a fenced playground all on 4 of the 8 acres.  The plan calls for 12-one-bedroom units, 8-two-bedroom units and 18-three-bedroom units.  In total there are 36 apartments with 28 being workforce housing and 8 apartments being permanent supporting housing units.

The remaining 4 acres are being proposed for about 12 single family homes around the multi-family development.  The plan is to apply for a READI 2.0 grant award to assist with single-family homes.

John Myers, President of Garden Court Board of Directors said they presented a similar plan next to Martins Supermarket last year, but the city council turned down their request because it was prime commercial property off Jefferson Street.  He said this location off Bayless Street has traditional residential housing on the north and single-family homes along with several apartment complexes on the south.  Myers said, “We feel it’s a good property and we know there is a need for low-income housing.” 

The Bradley Group will oversee the selection process of residents and maintenance of the grounds and apartments.  Rod Ludwig said federal regulations will not allow anyone with sex crimes, convicted of harm to a child or animal to live in the development.  Residents can’t be registered sex offenders, been convicted of meth crimes and have a violent criminal history.   

Nearly 35 people spoke for and against the residential plan during the public hearing, which took about 2 hours. 

Many of the neighbors expressed their concerns about increased traffic.  They said 9 months of the year they experience extreme congestion before and after school.   Other neighbors were concerned with who would be living in the permanent supportive housing units and having someone who may have mental issues so close to a school. It is anticipated only a few families from the motels on the northside of Plymouth could qualify to live in the transitional housing development. 

Neighbors also expressed concerns about the R-4 multi-family zoning because it has the highest residential densities in Plymouth.  They were concerned the other 4-acres could end up in another multi-family development.  The suburban residential zone refers to low to medium density residential areas which the neighbors were more in favor of. 

Following the public hearing City Attorney Jeff Houin reminded plan commission members that they were making a recommendation to the city council, either favorable, unfavorable or no recommendation.  He said the 7 members of the city council will consider the Garden Court rezoning request at their meeting next Monday, June 10th

The Plymouth Plan Commission motioned to send a favorable recommendation to the City Council with a 6 to 4 vote.  Those voting against included City Councilman Randy Longanecker, Linda Secor, City Councilwoman Shiloh Milner and Fred Webster.  Those voting in favor of the rezoning included Alex Eads, City Engineer Dan Sellers, Mark Gidley, Doug Feece, Paul Wendel and Beth Pinkerton.  Member Angie Rupchock-Shafer was absent from the meeting.