The original developer of the Lakes at Franklin Mills neighborhood is looking to add nine lots for new single-family construction in what now is greenspace for the subdivision.
Bob Heimann, the developer for the project, pitched plans to the Kent Planning Commission Tuesday night that showed nine new houses to be built with seven fronting Stonewater Drive and two with driveways on Roy Marsh Drive.
The new houses all would be built on the edge of greenspace that includes a pond at the southwest corner of the intersection of Fairchild Avenue and Stonewater Drive.
Heimann said when he originally planned the development that 8 acre parcel called for a commercial development with community space for the neighborhood.
But a faltering real estate market and the redevelopment of downtown Kent all but erased Heineman’s plans for retail development there, he said.
“In my heart, I did everything I could do to make that happen,” Heimann said.
The proposed new housing lots would be considered Phase IV of the development, which includes more than 200 residences comprised of condominiums, “lifestyle” homes and single-family houses.
The new lots would be larger with greater setbacks from the street than the existing single-family houses in the neighborhood, Heimann said.
“They’re all bigger than almost every lot in Franklin Mills,” he said. “I’m trying to make these lots as valuable as I can.”
Heimann presented a conceptual site plan for the new lots to the commission, which as a result did not vote on the proposal but instead only offered feedback on the conceptual design. The commission would still have to sign off on the design before the houses could be built.
The issue that drew the most concerns, from both residents of the neighborhood and members of the planning commission, was whether or not a new house near the intersection of Fairchild Avenue and Stonewater Drive would hinder a driver’s site as they try to turn out of the development.
Edgewater Circle resident Jean Meadows called the intersection frightening for drivers.
“It’s a difficult exit,” she said. “Anything that blocks your view (looking) west on Fairchild Avenue is going to be a serious hazard.”
Planning commission member Melissa Long agreed.
“The city’s going to really have to look at that,” Long said.
But Heimann said, based on his conceptual plan, the house that would be built closest to the intersection would not block the line of site for drivers.
“That house itself is not going to block the line of site view at all,” he said.
Heimann added that he would consider including a deed restriction on the lots that prevents mounding of dirt for privacy or other potential obstructions of the view.
He also plans to offer ownership, and therefore maintenance duties, of the remaining greenspace and lake to the homeowners association for the development.
“If they don’t accept it … I would look elsewhere,” he said. “I would look to the parks.”