Thiess farm duplex proposal advances

A series of duplex homes on the north side of Fort Dodge inched closer to reality Monday when the City Council approved the second reading of a needed zoning change on a 6-1 vote.

Council members who support the plan for the homes at 20th Avenue North and Williams Drive cited the need for housing in the city.

“We do have an urgent need presently for affordable single-family housing,” said Councilman Dave Flattery. “Right now, this is the only development that’s out there.”

The proposal has encountered enough opposition from neighboring property owners that a supermajority vote of six of the seven council members is needed to approve the zoning change.

That six vote supermajority was attained when council members Kim Alstott, Neven Conrad, Andy Fritz, Dean Hill, Terry Moehnke and Flattery voted yes.

Councilman Jeffrey Halter voted no. He said that as the owner of a single-family house, he’d rather not have duplexes built next door. He said the neighbors who are objecting to the plan are saying the same thing.

“What they’re really saying is that they don’t want this in their back yard or next to them,” Halter said.

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.

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

The specific issue before the council is whether or not the property should be switched from a single-family zoning designation to another single family zoning designation that allows duplexes.

Three affirmative votes of the council are needed to make the change.

The first vote occurred on March 13 and the second occurred on Monday. The third vote is set for April 10.

Neighbors who oppose the plan filed a petition with the council that contained enough signatures to trigger the six member supermajority vote requirement.

One of those neighbors, Brian McClain, of 1204 20th Ave. N., told the council on Monday that he is not opposed to developing the Thiess farm site. However, he questioned if the development is being done in a way that is in the best interest of the community.

McClain said the Re-Envision 2030 comprehensive plan calls for the area to be one of single family homes.

“Are we following the plan or are we not following the plan?” he asked.

Carissa Harvey, the senior city planner, said the plan indicates that duplexes may be built in a single-family area in order to obtain the needed housing variety in the community.

Fritz said young families are not settling in Fort Dodge because they can’t find a nice place to live.

Conrad said he would prefer that the property at Williams Drive and 20th Avenue North be sold to a developer who would build single-family houses along Williams Drive. He added that no such plan has been formally submitted yet, while McCarville has submitted a plan.


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