Planners have issues to decide



July 16, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Iola Planning Commission members will hear requests for two zoning changes and vacation of an alley when they meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the New Community Building in Riverside Park.
The meeting will be open to the public.
A change of zoning from R1 (single family) to R3 (multiple family) is being sought to accommodate a senior housing complex on 3.8 acres in the 1000 block of North Kentucky. Neighborhood Senior Living, Inc., Dallas, has proposed two complexes, one containing 26 residential suites and a second with eight suites for people with dementia-type concerns.
Care would be available 24 hours a day, meals would be served and all living expenses except telephone would be included in rent averaging $3,000 a month.
Concerns were heard at an invitation-only meeting for neighbors in mid-June about the development, said Carl Slaugh, Iola administrator, a few days afterward. Jack West, owner of the development group, told the Register he thought concerns — noise, lights and traffic among them — were defused when neighbors were given full information about what was planned.
West said the complex was designed with neighboring residential areas in mind, that tenants, being elderly, would be quiet by nature, and that the complex would be expected to generate little additional traffic.
The tract, mentioned at  times in the past as a possible site for an apartment complex or other residential development, mostly has had prairie hay harvested from it over the years.

A SPECIAL USE permit is being sought so USD 257 administrative offices, 408 N. Cottonwood, may be refitted to provide classrooms for Crossroads Learning Center. The district’s alternative high school has had classes for several years in a school in northwest Gas, previously an elementary building. A hearing on whether to abandon the Gas school will be a part of Monday night’s USD 257 board meeting.
Planners also will hear a plea to vacate half a block of alley between Cottonwood and Colborn streets south of Madison Avenue.
Carolyn McLean, who with husband Val owns the rental house on the north side of the alley, said they and Jim Smith want the alley closed so Smith can enlarge Cottonwood Gardens, a popular and well-kept park Smith cultivated and maintains on a lot just south of the alley.
“There is access from Broadway (on half a block of north-south alley) and on to the east,” Carolyn McLean said Monday afternoon, meaning residents wouldn’t be landlocked. “We think it would be wonderful to have the park enlarged,” she said, a thought that apparently is shared by neighbors.
Letters were sent to property owners within 200 feet of the alley, “and we haven’t heard a single protest,” McLean said.

MEMBERS of the planning commission will make recommendations on each of the issues to the city council, whose members ultimately will decide whether zoning changes and the alley’s vacation will be permitted.

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