An attempt to deny rezoning for a planned rental house development in south Joplin failed on Monday night after mixed comments were given by neighbors.
Thomas and Susan Coy, owners of property on the southeast corner of 34th Street and Jackson Avenue, sought rezoning from single-family residential homes to multifamily housing with a planned district so that the council would have to approve plans. It covers the parking and driveway area of the development, which would have residents backing into Jackson Avenue to leave their homes.
City staff told the council this is the first plan in Joplin to build what is called a pocket neighborhood, which is houses built close together on small lots around a commons area.
Contractor Matt McConnell said the plan is to build 11 houses that face a communal outdoor cooking and fire pit area to promote a feeling of community for those who rent the houses.
Because of concerns expressed by the neighbors about the residents backing out into traffic, a 15-foot apron was designed to give drivers time to look for oncoming vehicles before they drive into the street. McConnell said that, when combined with the parking stalls that are 19 to 20 feet long, drivers would have nearly 35 feet to exit.
One resident who spoke to the council Monday night said she had a concern about the parking and backing into the street, but she is otherwise in favor of the project and would trust those who are making the decisions regarding the project.
Another resident, Delores Bilke, who has lived in the neighborhood about 40 years, was opposed. She said the area has been a good, quiet neighborhood but that the concentrated housing could add up to 100 trips a day of people coming and going. She said there are a number of vehicle accidents in the area on Jackson where those residents would be backing out of their driveways. There are only three spaces for guests to park, which could create a bottleneck in front of neighboring houses.
A planned buffer of trees and shrubs would separate the new development from a church but not shield current residents, who would view the backs of the houses, Bilke said.
Another resident, Bill Busey, said he was against allowing the development to be built “especially with vehicles backing onto Jackson. That is going to be dangerous.”
After council members asked some questions of city staff regarding the buffer and how the zoning code and land-use plan allowed a development like this one, Councilman Phil Stinnett made a motion to deny approval of the planned district.
“It’s not a bad development,” Stinnett said. “It just doesn’t fit where they want to put it.”
Council member Diane Reid Adams seconded the motion, and the council voted 4-5 in favor. Mayor Ryan Stanley and councilman Gary Shaw voted in favor along with Stinnett and Reid Adams.
Council member Chuck Copple then made a motion to approve, which was seconded by Doug Lawson, and they were joined in approving the rezoning by council members Christina Williams, Keenan Cortez and Anthony Monteleone.
The council heard a request from Joplin resident Tom Walters to install additional lighting at the skate park at Ewert Park. He said there is one light pole in the center of the park, which leaves areas of the structure in the dark. For safety, he believed more lights should be installed. He said the park is used by numerous children and teens and has attracted a number of out-of-town users.
City Manager Nick Edwards was asked to work with the parks department to provide the lights.
Another resident, David Guilford, asked for more police intervention with unknown people coming and going at all hours from houses in the Blendville neighborhood and incidents of speeding on 22nd Street from Wall Avenue west to Maiden Lane because there are no stop signs on that stretch.
The council approved ordinances to add expenses to the annual budget for replacement of police vehicles that had been damaged in wrecks and other expenses as well a contract to close out old fuel storage tanks at the public works center.
The panel advanced for final readings an updated public transportation safety plan for the Sunshine Lamp Trolley and MAPS services. Also advanced was an ordinance authorizing a contract of $520,000 for Olsson engineers to provide engineering services and construction observation of the widening of West 32nd Street when it starts.
After its regular session Monday, the council voted to go into closed session for talks with the city attorney.