Council advances duplexes for Thiess farm site

Neighbors produce objecting petition, forcing supermajority vote

A plan to build duplexes at the corner of Williams Drive and 20th Avenue North has encountered opposition from neighbors, but the City Council moved Monday to push the project ahead.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the first reading of a zoning change that’s needed for the construction of the new homes.

That vote came after the council received a petition from neighbors opposed to the project. That petition contained enough signatures to force the council to use a supermajority of six of the seven members to approve the item. The rezoning must be approved two more times to become effective.

The duplexes would be the first new homes on a property called the Thiess farm that has been designated as a site for new homes.

The plan from developer Mike McCarville calls for five duplexes. Two of them would face 20th Avenue North and three of them would face Williams Drive. Each unit would have 1,600 square feet of living space and a two-car garage. Each will be sold for $200,000 or less.

The council is being asked to change the zoning of the site from one category of single family housing to another single family housing category that allows duplexes. The city’s Plan and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the change on Feb. 14.

Brian McClain, of 1204 20th Ave. N., presented a petition signed by nine nearby residents who oppose the duplex plan. Although it had just nine names on it, that petition was enough to trigger the supermajority requirement for the council vote.

McClain noted that the city’s land use plan calls for single-family homes there. He raised the possibility that the change could be considered illegal spot zoning.

Carissa Harvey, the senior city planner, said the land use plan does call for single-family housing there. But she added that the plan “encourages additional forms of housing types.”

Councilmen Kim Alstott, Neven Conrad, Dave Flattery, Andy Fritz, Dean Hill and Terry Moehnke voted yes.

Councilman Jeffrey Halter voted no.

“I’ve had my concerns with this,” he said. “I can understand why the neighbors are objecting.”

Halter said there is another plan that calls for single-family homes along Williams Drive for the length of the Thiess farm property. He said he wants to see a more comprehensive plan for the site worked out before approving anything.