By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Carlton approves zone change for housing project


CARLTON -- City council members last week approved a zone change to allows an affordable housing nonprofit to apply for a 12-unit subdivision.

The mayor and four council members voted yes to change the zoning from agricultural holding to R-3 residential medium-high density on a 1.57-acre tract on Roosevelt Street.

Approval had been recommended by the Carlton Planning Commission, which earlier found that the zone change application met city criteria and would help address the need for affordable housing in Carton.

Councilor Linda Watkins abstained from voting Tuesday night after asking for more time to study the issue of zone changes and agriculture-zone land in the city. Council member Carey Rhoads was absent.

The Community Development Corp, or Community Home Builders, helps people build their own houses and those of their neighbors. It plans to build six single-family homes and six duplex units on the site.

The zone change was the first step. The group still needs to go through the subdivision planning and approval process.

While CDC board members said they're planning only 12 units, the R-3 zoning would allow them to build more or to build apartments instead, Watkins pointed out. Such plans also would need to be approved by the city before any construction began.

The proposed houses will sit just north of an earlier CDC project. In 2006, neighbors combined efforts to build several homes on Northeast Coolidge Street.

One of the residents who participated in that process addressed the council Tuesday night. David Hill said CDC is a good program that allowed him to become a homeowner. It had a positive influence on his life and the lives of other participants, he said.

Another resident, Annette Madrid, also urged support for the zone change, because it would help increase Carlton's stock of affordable housing. She said she looked into the housing program during a period in which she needed help; although she ultimately chose a different way of building a home, she had nothing but praise for CDC.

But others objected to the zone change.

Some neighbors said they will miss the view they now have of the empty lot on which the houses would be built. Another worried that the construction process will shatter the quiet of the neighborhood.

They also are concerned about increased traffic in their area, especially since Roosevelt Street currently does not cross the old railroad bed that's being considered for the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. That blocks direct access to Highway 47 near the fire station. To get to the new subdivision, they said, traffic will have to drive south on First Street, then use Lincoln or another street to reach the highway.

Traffic and egress issues will be dealt with in the subdivision approval process, city officials said.

In other business, the Carlton Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the proposed Yamhelas Trail. The resolution authorizes participation in an appeal to LUBA.

Several people spoke up prior to the vote, asking the council not to take a stand on the trail.

They said it will negatively impact area farmers and Carlton residents who live beside the old railroad bed. It's already a divisive issue in the community, they said.


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