Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2003

Planning, not lifestyles, should determine rezoning request

June 5, 2003

The De Soto Planning Commission had little choice but to recommend denial of the request of Arbor Ridge developers to rezone property southeast of 83rd Street and Kill Creek Road because of the nature of the city's zoning classification and process. Despite assurances from the developers that the subdivision would include 61 duplex units and 181 houses, the rezoning would have allowed the 90 acres to be completely developed as duplexes.

As should be expected, homeowners in the area don't welcome the prospect of what is now pasture and woods becoming rooftops. Houses are our most expensive investment, and the vocal concern of neighbors at the Planning Commission public hearing on the rezoning request was a positive sign neighbors care about that investment and the community. Still, some of the comments were disappointing.

It is reasonable to expect higher-density housing often marketed to young adults should be properly buffered from single-family homes. How that could be done with the right density is the proper use of the planning process. It is not to make value judgments on lifestyles, and it was unfortunate to hear some residents attack other De Soto residents as a way to oppose the duplexes proposed in Arbor Ridge. If some of the comments at the public hearing are to be believed, duplexes are fated to become blighted slums housing sexual offenders and other types of criminals.

It is true duplexes, even those supposedly sold to those living in them, attract a more transient population than single-family houses and are sometimes inhabited by those less inclined to be concerned about property values and, hence, the appearance of their homes. But the suggestion that duplexes would house residents less desirable than their surrounding neighbors is insulting. Few young adults or recent college graduates can afford to purchase the homes they want. Duplexes would allow young families and professional individuals a foothold in the community from which they could move up to more expensive homes.

It is reasonable to conclude that a fair share of those young adults will be the children and grandchildren of De Soto residents, who might now be forced to look elsewhere for housing. Similarly, duplexes afford the chance for those who came to the United States and De Soto in search of a better life to stay in De Soto and contribute to the community once they more fully realize their dream.

The Arbor Ridge subdivision will come back before the Planning Commission. All should remember, viable arguments for and against duplexes in the development, and not expressions of prejudices, will likely win that debate.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.