Appeal planned after Planning Commission backs Victorian Heights
An appeal has been pledged after the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the Victorian Heights development plan Aug. 3.
Larry Hudson, who has been leading the neighborhood opposition, said he was “devastated” by the commission vote following a 4 ½-hour meeting.
He said that with his appeal, the matter would probably come before City Council at its Aug. 22 meeting.
Located at the foot of a steep slope off Wilhelmia Avenue and 28th Street, the 12-unit duplex project is to be turned over to Habitat for Humanity for low-income housing after being built, according to plans.
Hudson's main argument was that the slope had not been adequately studied. He is not happy with developer Ted Cox's geotechnical consultant's plans - which have been endorsed by the city - to stabilize the slope with a series of large piers set deep into the hill behind the homes.
Before his vote, Planning Commission member Mark Cunningham said he thought the project “satisfies a lot of needs in the community.” Regarding the hillside issues, “I tend to believe the pros,” he said. “There have been multiple reports by multiple professionals. The developer has gone to great extra lengths.”
Noting Cox's numerous neighborhood meetings and back-and-forths with City Planning over the past six years, Cunningham said, “This will be a better project because the neighbors were involved.”
There still remains the question of who would pay if the slope did fail, which was a question asked by Dave Hughes of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) during the meeting. Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey said afterward that “so long as the city's geohazard ordinance is followed, the city will bear no responsibility for slope failure.”
Hughes said he did not feel satisfied with this answer, questioning whether the subdivision's planned homeowners' association would be solvent enough to absorb such a cost.
A petition in opposition to the plan, signed by nearly all the current neighbors in the roughly 40-year-old homes off Wilhelmia, was given to the city at the meeting. Issues of concern also included neighborhood character and density.
Westside Pioneer article