The meeting was primarily an information session that allowed an informal committee of three to pass along what they had learned about tentative construction plans for the 26-acre tract. The committee consists of Glen Duke, Mike Porter and Jim Westjohn, who were introduced by Homeowners Association Board President Tony Jewett.
The group acts as a homeowners' liaison between residents of Summerset Palms, city planners and developers Fountain Glen and Venture Corporation, who will eventually build on the property. Developers and city planners were not present at the June 5 meeting but will be invited to the next such meeting. Phil Hochstrasser asked those in attendance to resist beating up on the committee members. "You have to thank these three gentlemen for their efforts, but it's up to you (Summerset community) to make the decisions."
Duke pointed out that the committee has taken no positions on developer proposals. It simply informs homeowners of what the builders have in mind. A large, rough-draft drawing showing the builder plans for the property was on display for all to see.
To date, no formal application has been made to city planners detailing a developer proposal. Sharon Lundstrom-Cook, a retired city planning department employee, told the assembled group, "A great deal of time will elapse before anything gets built," during which the Summerset community can press for changes to what is initially proposed.
Tentative developer plans include 50,000 square feet of retail space that might include a RiteAid Drug Store, a Starbucks Coffee shop and other retail, possibly including a restaurant or two.
A commercial section has been proposed that might consist of 56 business condos in seven two-story buildings. Typical occupancy might include some light industrial ventures, warehousing, medical offices and businesses of various kinds.
The final development segment is a proposed 250-unit senior apartment complex in eight three-story buildings with an activity center and pool.
Lanier Graham was one resident who spoke his mind: "I'd like to suggest that any three-story structures are an obscenity and the whole idea of coagulating Summerset Drive (with traffic) is unacceptable." His remarks drew applause from the attendees and no one disagreed. A number of people reinforced his objections. Lundstrom-Cook said she didn't think three-story structures are called for in the city's General Plan, and their construction would require a variance that could be fought in planning commission sessions.
Duke said traffic studies would need to be made to determine the feasibility of using Summerset Drive to accommodate any new development. Balfour Road entry and exit to commercial and retail segments of the development are shown on the tract drawing, but access to apartments is tentatively shown solely from Summerset Drive.
Questions about the proposed development that have no clear answers include: Will property values be affected? How much noise or other kinds of pollution will commercial condos create? How much change to developer plans can residents reasonably expect to accomplish? How long will it take for the project to be completed?
Residents concluded that a position should be taken opposing three-story buildings and a unanimous voice vote supported that contention. It was noted there is not one two-story home in any of the four Summerset subdivisions. Another resident suggested Summerset communities band together to seat at least two City Council members in future elections, saying, "We are a force to be reckoned with and we need to be properly represented."
Duke ended the 90-minute meeting by telling attendees that the liaison committee will meet with the city again soon, and has been asked by city planners to attend sessions concerned with Executive Golf Course development. The committee was encouraged by the large turnout of residents interested in the development, and promised to hold another informational meeting next month.