LIBERTY — Two residential developments received approval from Liberty City Council Monday, July 25. The developments will add a 478-unit apartment complex at the northeast corner of South Liberty Parkway and Plummer Road and a 40-unit seniors-only community called Fulkerson Cottages at the southwest corner of Liberty Drive and Fulkerson Circle.
During previous public meetings, community members voiced concerns about both projects.
In 2016, the Fulkerson house at 73 Fulkerson Circle, which sits on almost 7 acres, was demolished. In late July of that year, the land again came up for a possible development. The Liberty Planning & Zoning Commission voted against changing the land use plan from low density to high density so that a senior development cooperative might use the land.
This development, from local attorney and developer Spencer Thompson, will be aimed at those 55 and older. In a similar development of his in Blue Springs, the bulk of the residents are 65 to 80.
“When we met with the neighborhood, we talked about traffic and storm water,” he said. “At the Blue Springs development, most of the homes have one car. I know because of the intersection we are at, we will add some cars, but much less than a commercial development.”
Thompson said one rumor about the new property he has heard concerns about is that the development will be Section 8 housing.
“It just isn’t so,” he said. “This will be owned by my group. We know that homeowners will have freedom to travel and it is low density so neighbors won’t have a large development in the view. These are mainly two-bedroom, one-bath spaces.”
During the public hearing, 11 people spoke. The biggest concerns raised were related to traffic and storm water. For Larry Stafford, a concern was also disturbing the wildlife and the mature trees in the area. Others such as Shirley Henderson and Donald Happy believe the traffic study wasn’t completed during morning or evening rush hour or during the school year.
Lisa Crawford said property values around the development will decline due to water runoff.
“I am adamantly opposed to this,” she said.
Valora and Joseph Frey, who live on Fulkerson Circle, said the land can’t sit idle for too many years.
“Perhaps we have found the least painful,” Valora said of the proposed development.
At the recent council meeting, the council voted 7 to 1 in favor of the project. Councilwoman Kelley Wrenn Pozel voted against the development.
“While I am not against development, I wanted to listen to the people who live there and all of them spoke about traffic concerns,” she said.
Our Lady of Mercy Country Home and Life Unlimited spoke against the 478-unit apartment complex project during the public meeting.
Life Unlimited Chief External Relations Officer Mark Bertrand said there are several concerns about the the development. First, he said, is the increase in traffic this development is expected to create on and near Plummer Road. It will be dangerous to drivers and pedestrians, he said. Second, developers have not communicated with the neighboring properties on how they plan to keep the residents from entering the private Mercy Drive or proper fencing to keep residents off neighboring property, he said.
“Our biggest concern is protecting the elderly and disabled that live on the properties of Immacolata Manor and Our Lady of Mercy Country Home. Each weekday, Immacolata Manor provides on-site care to almost 100 adults living with disabilities. We are their only voice when it comes to how this project would negatively impact them. For almost 50 years, they’ve provided care and community to our society’s most vulnerable,” he said.
The 478 units will be in 11 apartment buildings. The buildings will feature “tuck under” garages and combined garage parking. There will also be a community clubhouse, pool and sports courts.
The description of the apartments is similar to Copper Ridge Apartments located at 314 N. Forest Ave. The developers told the council they will erect a fence between Our Lady and Life Unlimited and the apartment complex, plus they plan to keep roadways open as best as possible during construction.
The council approved the new development 7 to 1. Again, Pozel voted “no.”
“Life Unlimited has residents that are medically fragile and Our Lady of Mercy has older residents that need protecting, too,” she said. “I believe there are aspects of the development that could be better. It’s also too big a development for the area.”