It only took a few minutes for the Waterloo City Council to approve conditional use permits (CUP) for Petry Trust no. 1989 during its Thursday meeting. However, things were a bit more agitated during a special meeting of the city’s plan commission when multiple residents from the McKay Way neighborhood came forward to oppose the proposal for multi-family units and duplexes.

Petry Trust recently purchased 35 lots in the DeYoung Farms and five lots in the Treyburn Farms subdivisions. The developer, represented at the plan commission meeting by John Knabe, was requesting a CUP to allow the development of multi-family or duplex residences for 14 parcels in the DeYoung Farms Subdivision. The properties are currently zoned R-2 and only allows single-family homes.

A public hearing for the CUP request was held at the start of the Sept. 16 meeting and lasted for more than one hour. According to Alder Jeanette Petts, who also serves on the plan commission, many of the comments were more about whether the homes built on the lots would abide by the neighborhood covenants than the request for a CUP.

Throughout the meeting, Knabe said it was not the developer’s desire to violate the covenants set forth by the neighborhood; Mayor Jeni Quimby added it was not the city’s responsibility to enforce the covenants. Furthermore, it was noted that just because Petry Trust would be allowed to build multi-family residences and duplexes does not mean it will choose to do so.

One of the individuals who spoke during the public hearing questioned if all the potential multi-family units or duplexes would be owner occupied; according to him, the DeYoung Farms covenant required are residences needed to be occupied by owners.

Knabe said it was the intention of Petry Trust to sell all of the multi-family units or duplexes, but “there has to be a Plan B in case they don’t sell.”

Quimby added someone could purchase that style of home, live in one of the units and rent out the others; additionally, she said the existing duplexes in the Treyburn Farms subdivision sold before the single-family homes. Another commission member stated that in the case the units could not be sold, would the neighbors rather see an empty building or one being rented.

One of the DeYoung Farms residents said he and the rest of those currently living in the subdivision would have the right to recourse. He did not believe the quality of the buildings would be required to adhere to the same building standards as the existing homes, which could decrease the home and property values in the subdivision.

“I want to ensure the homes that go up here are of the same quality of the (houses) in the neighborhood,” he said.

Another neighbor said the covenant had been put in place to create an above median neighborhood to protect the subdivision standard.

After the public hearing, the commission unanimously approved and recommended the CUP request by Petry Trust to the city council. The council approved the CUP 5-1 with Alder Ron Griffin voting no and Alder Angie Stinett absent.

During Thursday’s council meeting, Knabe said he’d familiarized the neighborhood covenant since the previous evening. He found the document did not say DeYoung Farms would be exclusively single-family residences – there were mentions of multi-family units and duplexes. Additionally, there are procedures outlined in the covenant to work with an architectural control committee.

Petry Trust would like to break ground on the first of its housing units in early November. It still needs to receive an architectural design approval by the commission and council.

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