Layton leaders say no to senior housing project

May 19 2013 - 9:53pm

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LAYTON -- City leaders have said no to a potential senior housing project, which could have added as many as 168 new apartment units to the city.

In action taken recently, the city council voted unanimously to reject a bid to rezone five acres of property at 312 W. Gentile St. from business and research park (B-RP) to residential high-density planned resident development (R-H PRUD) and to amend the city's master plan from low density to a high-density designation for the parcel.

Council members cited problems with traffic on Gentile Avenue, the potential impact on Layton Elementary School and the concept of ahousing project adjacent to railroad tracks.

"There's not a lot that makes sense on this property. That why it sits as it has for some time," Councilman Scott Freitag said.

He said the council has to look at the health, safety and welfare of the community when considering any project. The proposed development would not improve any of those three factors.

Development plans, known as Kays Creek Villas, showed two three-story apartment buildings and two four-story apartment buildings on the vacant property.

In a public hearing, neighbors also weighed in against the development.

Resident Linda Melaney said she couldn't imagine anyone wanting to live on the second or third floor of an apartment complex next to railroad tracks. She said it often feels like an earthquake when heavy trains go by.

She also worried about the impact the project would have on traffic on Gentile Avenue.

Delaney Nalder said no one wants three-story buildings in the neighborhood. She also described traffic in the region as being scary.

Adam Workman also cited potential traffic problems on Gentile and said the idea of three-story apartment buildings on the property does not go with the neighborhood.

Developer Jeff Hawkes, of Hawks Development, made a presentation, saying the senior housing project would actually minimize the impact to the school and traffic, in comparison to any potential development in the existing B-RP zone.

He also said there is a growing need for senior housing, which the project would help fill.

He said the project would provide much needed, high-quality, state-of-the-art housing with amenities for seniors.

He had a tough sell, and the council spent little time talking about the project before voting against it.

The city's planning commission also voted earlier this year to unanimously deny both the rezone and master plan amendment for the property, and city staff recommended council members deny both bids.

Councilwoman Joyce Brown also addressed Hawkes' suggestion that Davis County needs more housing for seniors.

Brown said city officials have already approved housing projects targeted at senior citizens. She said:

"I'm not sure Layton needs that many more senior apartments at this point."

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