Council to decide fate of proposed development

Screenshot courtesy Google Maps

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — The construction of a new Jasper neighborhood could bring 10 single-family homes and 32 quadplexes to the northern part of the city. Kerstiens Homes and Designs is that project’s developer, and the company has already checked off preliminary requirements for getting a planned unit development off the ground.

But not everyone is on board. Some residents believe the development would be bad for Jasper.

The project took another step forward at Jasper City Hall on Wednesday night in front of an audience of about 40 people, many of whom voiced concerns about the potential neighborhood.

The city’s Plan Commission approved the final detailed plan of the Autumn Creek III planned unit development and also granted secondary approval of the proposed plat. To begin work at the roughly 13 acre slice of land, Kerstiens now requires the final approval of the Jasper Common Council.

The council will discuss and potentially vote on that matter at its monthly meeting on June 19.

For months, neighbors living in the area around 34th Street and Reyling Drive have expressed concerns regarding the project at plan commission meetings. Those worries have included the increasing of area traffic, worsening of already existing flooding issues around the site and devaluing of property, to name a few.

Wednesday night, meeting attendees touched on those same issues.

Those living near the proposed Autumn Creek III grounds spoke of how ditches touching the proposed PUD overflow into massive waterways during heavy rains. How a sharp increase in the number of vehicles that use the nearby roads could create safety concerns for those who walk and play in the area. How a buffer is needed to shield their views of the new homes.

“There may be a place for this in Jasper,” Phil Goss, a neighboring homeowner, said of the quadplex development. “But, again, looking at the surrounding land, looking at the unified development plan, this doesn’t support what is written in there.”

During the months that neighbors have voiced their opposition, Kerstiens has tweaked its blueprint to address the concerns. Some of the concessions made included modifying the total number of cluster homes, ditching a through-traffic route in favor of two cul de sacs, dropping the quadplexes from two stories to one and directing some area water into an underground holding tank that empties to the west of the property.

“We always try to work with our neighbors,” said Al Mehringer, who works for Kerstiens. “We always have. And we’re sure trying.”

In a Friday phone interview, Todd Kerstiens said the average selling price of four nearby quadplex homes unrelated to his company’s project was $104,000, which is about $55,000 less than the craftsman-style quadplexes he hopes to bring to the area.

“The thing is, a lot of people think they’re apartments,” Kerstiens said of the Autumn Creek III quadplexes. “These are not apartments. They’re residential homes. These are sold and deeded in your name, just like a residential home. There’s no difference ... except that there’s four of them together.”

The Autumn Creek III quadplexes would each include three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Last month, Kerstiens told The Herald that real estate agents are begging for homes in Autumn Creek III’s price range.

In mid-May, a website named BadForJasper.com was launched in opposition to the Autumn Creek III subdivision. A person affiliated with the site has emailed with The Herald, but would not identify themselves.

A form letter posted on BadForJasper.com was submitted to the plan commission by multiple homeowners and families who live near the land that would be affected by the project.

“The Plan Commission needs the backbone to stand against this developer for the betterment of Jasper,” the letters read, in part. “Let him develop in a responsible and sustainable nature. If the current Commission cannot, they should be replaced to protect our future.”




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