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Bryant continues to address issues with apartments

January 24, 2013

An ordinance setting limitations on multifamily housing in Bryant has been drafted and is likely to be presented at the Jan. 31 City Council meeting.
Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs has requested a special meeting with the Planning Commission to discuss the ordinance prior to the scheduled City Council meeting. Procedure calls for the commission to recommend the ordinance to council.
Dabbs is requesting the council hear it on first reading and then "let it sit" until the February meeting, leaving time for developers, residents and City Council members to examine the ordinance.
The construction of apartments in Bryant has been a hot-button issue, as demonstrated by a public outcry regarding a proposed lift to the moratorium on permits to build apartments during a recent City Council meeting. The council voted to keep the moratorium in place, but that action left the city vulnerable to litigation from a current land owner who had started construction on project that was previously agreed to by the city.
As of publication time no lawsuit had been filed regarding the issue.
Mayor Dabbs met recently with residents from Westpointe subdivision, Midtown, and Stoneybrook subdivision who would have been affected by the continuation of the land owner's project.
"It's very easy in a situation with this, where emotions run high, for details to be misunderstood," Dabbs said.
A lot of the complaints made by residents have been in the execution of the construction of the Courtyard Cottages in Midtown. Many residents complain it does not look like the original plan and is not aesthetically pleasing. "The main problem with that project was that the developers were not held to the Traditional Neighborhood Development (plan)," Dabbs said.
This occurred under a different administration, and the city intends to hold developers to these standards in the future, she said.
"As a city, we can develop ordinances that set high regulations for apartments and limit the quantity of apartments in the city to avoid putting too much pressure on our city's infrastructure," Dabbs said. "But we can't just say 'No more apartments.' If we do that, we will lose big as a city."
Courtyard Cottages is well-operated and there are some "very sweet people" who live there, Dabbs said. "As a city, we must have affordable housing for people in that stage in life."
Dabbs also believes it is important to not segregate the rich from the poor in the city to maintain balanced neighborhoods.
Everyone in the meeting seemed to understand the situation, Dabbs said.
The main complaint from residents in the meeting was that they are tired of the in-between stage of the Midtown development and request that it be completed, Dabbs said. The city will be looking for a developer to finish the project the way it was first presented.
Another result of the meeting was the formation of committees of representatives for individual neighborhoods. This will allow for neighborhoods to express their concerns to the council in an organized way, Dabbs said.
Some residents have shown concern of the additional traffic that apartments would bring to the area. To address this, the city is going to conduct a traffic analysis and create a new traffic plan for the Midtown development.

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