Council postpones 83rd & Olive rezoning

By: 
CAROLYN DRYER, Editor

Photo by Carolyn Dryer
John Vondesmar and Larinda Brown look across 83rd Avenue at a bus stop ramada, realizing a large apartment complex and business center may soon be their neighbors.

Things don’t always go as planned.
At the June 19 Peoria City Council meeting, Evergreen Devco, a development company, was seeking approval on a request to rezone an existing Planned Area Development (PAD) to the Trellis at Roundtree Ranch on approximately 18.5 acres at the northeast corner of 83rd and Olive avenues. But Evergreen will have to wait until Aug. 14 — the next City Council meeting — for its application to either be approved or denied.
Following Peoria Senior Planner Cody Gleason’s summary of the development, wherein his council communication indicated all property owners within a 600-foot radius of the site and all registered homeowners associations within one mile were notified of the required neighborhood meeting held Feb. 13, the mayor opened the public hearing portion of the presentation.
One property owner in Roundtree Ranch, a residential subdivision east of the proposed development, voiced concerns about the building heights within Trellis at Roundtree Ranch. In what appeared to be an explanation that indicated the higher level apartments on the east side of Trellis would have clerestory windows that would make it difficult for tenants to peer down on nearby Roundtree residents’ homes, the next speakers were called to the podium for comment.
John Vondesmar and Larinda Brown spoke out clearly against the development.
Vondesmar, who owns the “out parcel” at the northern end of the proposed development, said the developer’s representative lied when he said his client had met with nearby residents about any negative impacts the mixed-use development would have on their properties. Larger trees was one answer to a potentially negative impact, but Vondesmar said that would also cause problems for him (clean up of leaves, for instance).
Vondesmar said he has not been approached by anyone associated with the development, but he would entertain a buy-out of his property at the appraised price.
Brown, who makes her home with Vondesmar, read a statement of her recollection of events that have taken place since February regarding the development and the out parcel. Brown said she and Vondesmar have never communicated a price with Evergreen, that all they communicated was an interest in fair market value.
Councilmembers and Mayor Cathy Carlat expressed their own concerns after Vondesmar listed his own. Carlat said placing larger trees around the perimeter of the development was not enough.
Speaking to the developer’s attorney, William Allison of Withey Morris law firm, Carlat said, “We need to understand what you might do to rectify the situation.”
Allison said, “We will take every step we can take — solid wall for noise and lighting mitigation.”
Regarding Vondesmar’s property, Councilmember Mike Finn asked if the developer would purchase it at appraised value.
Allison said he and his client had not seen an appraisal of the property and had seen no indication from the property owner of what he would want.
(Three days after the council meeting in a phone interview, Allison said his client had a lengthy discussion with Vondesmar and Brown at the neighborhood meeting in February. Allison said at that meeting, he spoke about the project.)
Carlat suggested a stipulation that there be no parking around the Vondesmar property, and Allison said he did not know whether his client would be able to remove the parking.
That was when Carlat suggested a continuation of the application until staff could come up with a stipulation.
Councilmember Bridget Binsbacher said, “Everything about this was moving in the right direction except for the human element attached.”
Allison said, “The onus is not only on my client. This out parcel was not included in the PAD (Planned Area Development) we are changing.”
At that point in the discussion, Allison got the signal from his client to agree to removing parking spaces adjacent to the out parcel on the east and south side.
Carlat said, “No parking, no lighting within 25 feet of the out parcel.”
Finn said, “I’m still trying to figure out how we got to this place. I’d like to have some input from the individual impacted by this.”
Carlat said she was uncomfortable doing that from the dais.
Finn said he could not understand how the situation got to that point and was surprised to learn Withey Morris (representing Evergreen) had not even invited Vondesmar for a cup of coffee to discuss his concerns.
At that point during the discussion, Councilmember Jon Edwards motioned to continue the application until the next council meeting Aug. 14.
Allison said he could not be sure his client and the out parcel owner could come up with a solution.
Carlat said the council was not instructing the developer to purchase the out parcel, just asking for resolution.
A second to Edwards’ motion to continue was made and the council voted 5-1 in favor. Councilmember Carlo Leone was the lone dissenting vote, and Councilmember Vicki Hunt was on vacation in England and absent from the meeting.
In a phone interview in the days following the council’s decision to continue the application until Aug. 14, Allison said there was a discussion at the neighborhood meeting and after the May 17 planning and zoning meeting and an email after that meeting.
Allison said there was correspondence between Brown and his client after the planning and zoning meeting, during which Brown said she would be providing an appraisal and a price. Allison said instead, Brown produced a document, a broker opinion of value, not an appraisal from a certified appraiser.
Allison said, “Right now, we are scheduling a meeting with Brown.”
In a phone interview July 2, Evans said he had given Vondesmar a range of what Evergreen had paid for the development property — $7 per square foot — at the neighborhood meeting and was told at that time that amount was not acceptable.
“Paying a huge amount for one person’s property is not something we can do,” Evans said. “Why did it come up at the (June 19 council) hearing, and nothing in between? Our position has not changed. It’s unfortunate, never had anything like this pop up before.”
At a June 25 meeting on the out parcel property, Vondesmar and Brown reiterated what they said at the June 19 council meeting. Brown also produced the broker opinion of value, saying she was told a certified appraiser could not give a value because of the uniqueness of the property.
In the broker’s opinion, the property is unique due to its location, street frontage and multiple potential uses. The broker listed eight other comparable properties in the Valley, with the lowest sold for $322,000 and the highest sold for $725,000. All eight comparable properties were sold in the last two years.
Evans said he was not sure, but thought a meeting with city staff might take place before the Aug. 14 council meeting.

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Peoria Times
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