To the Editor:
I am a neighbor of Ramsey Homes, and am one of the signers of the protest petition. Over 75 properties nearby to Ramsey were represented in the petition; this is not an example of a few individuals protesting a redevelopment proposal. I am writing to articulate the concerns of many of the neighbors of Ramsey, and to make clear our objections to the current proposal.
1) There is near unanimous support in the neighborhood for affordable housing, and increased density on the site.
2) We are appalled at the current condition of Ramsey and strongly urge ARHA to immediately address the living conditions at the site.
3) ARHA, a government agency, has told one neighbor that to accommodate the proposed project he should cede a portion of his property to the right of way. We believe that a property owner’s rights should be protected.
4) Over 100 calendar days passed between Oct. 13, when ARHA stopped evaluating alternative development options, and Jan. 21, when pro formas evaluating each option were released to city staff and the public. The pro formas contained multiple errors and omissions, and were released in a manner that provided the public little opportunity for evaluation.
5) We urge ARHA and the city to continue to evaluate all options, including those that are more appropriate to the density of the neighborhood. Many neighbors would easily support a project with 30-40 units of affordable housing and adequate parking. Unfortunately, the current project is 53 units with 29 parking spaces.
6) We strongly urge City Council to follow precedent and consider the Master Plan Amendment, Rezoning, and Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) together at a later date. We believe that the attorney’s request to separate Rezoning from the DSUP is a deliberate attempt to limit the effectiveness of the property owners’ petition.
In closing, I commend Mayor Silberberg and Councilman Smedberg for their votes to deny the Rezoning on Feb. 20. ARHA had asked for a deferral on the DSUP; therefore the vote on Feb. 20 did not delay increased affordable housing at Ramsey. In the face of very vocal opposition, the mayor is working diligently to find compromise that increases affordable housing on the site, recognizes preservationists’ calls for retention of one building, and addresses the concerns of the neighboring property owners. Mayor Silberberg should be commended for her efforts, and recognized as a strong supporter of affordable housing.
I urge City Council to again deny the Master Plan Amendment and Rezoning on Saturday, March 12, until a lower-density project is considered and evaluated. ARHA cannot apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits until March of 2017; there is no reason to rush this process. We have a full year to consider redevelopment on the site, let’s use that time to ensure that the concerns of all stakeholders are at least heard and considered.