Concern over proposed ESSBY housing

To the Editor:

After having attending the North Branch council meeting last evening, I felt the need to perhaps provide some insight into some of the reasons why the residents of Northwoods are against the proposed ESSBY development.

The mayor expressed that a very similar project was proposed north of 400th street and was approved by the Council and for some reason moving a project 600 feet south has created a great deal of opposition.  From my standpoint, this is because the city has broken a trust with the residents of Northwoods.

The original plans called for single family housing south of 400th, with a small buffer zone, if I remember correctly.  Multi-unit housing was to go north of 400th.  It may not seem like a big deal to an outsider, but to the families who own homes on 1+ acre lots adjacent to this property, it IS a big deal.

In addition, it was mentioned that this project has been discussed since January and is only now generating opposition.  I can tell you that I heard nothing of this proposal from MWF properties until it was featured on the front page of the Post Review. In talking to my neighbors, that seems to be the case with the majority of residents.

I understand that the city is under no obligation to provide notification to us, given that the property is more 150 feet from adjoining properties.  However, the Council is well aware of the concerns of the Northwoods property owners of not only the ESSBY land, but also the Oak Park Villas project at the end of 8th Avenue.  I personally feel that there are those who were hoping to push this project through “under the radar.”

Again, this serves to alienate residents as to the motives of the Council.

The Oak Park Villas project on 8th Avenue was approved and instead of having 7 duplex type buildings, we now have 6 acres of vacant land, overgrown with weeds.  Trees blocking the freeway were cut down and we now have a clear view of I-35.  So, for the residents of Northwoods, decisions made by the Council have not had a very positive effect on us.

I also have concerns as to what effect having multi-unit housing so close to my property will do to my property values.  Our property values have already dropped dramatically due to all the foreclosures in the Northwoods development and in North Branch in general.

My home was valued at over $300,000 in 2005 – it is now valued at $130,000.  I can’t imagine having this type of housing in that area will do anything to improve my property values.

I’d like to throw a couple of ideas out there – why can’t the developer build housing south of 95?  There’s certainly plenty of available land and it’s closer to Wyoming, thereby solving the problem of their “points.”  I believe it’s the Anderson property, where they clear cut all the trees, that is currently for sale or lease.

Why don’t we turn our vacant, foreclosed motel in town into housing?  Someone could convert the individual rooms into apartments, and residents would definitely be within walking distance to banks, restaurants, etc.

I believe the Council’s credibility with residents is at an all-time low and I sincerely hope that the Council will listen to the concerns of citizens and businesses when considering this project.

Judi Fitcha

North Branch

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