A conditional use permit for the construction of a duplex in Mora has been recommended to move to a Mora City Council vote by the Mora Planning Commission, much to the chagrin of some of the neighbors where the house will be constructed.
The duplex, which is being built at 706 Summit Lane by Kelling Capital LLC, needed the conditional use permit, or CUP, because the neighborhood is zoned as a single-family residential district.
Initially, when the planning commission approved the construction, it erred in giving the go-ahead to builder Steve Kelling, telling him that the property was zoned for R-3, a multiple dwelling district, according to Community Development Director Kirsten Faurie. Kelling had already purchased the property and had started work on the grading when representatives of the city realized their error. Kelling was asked to apply for the CUP — which he did in August — to allow construction of the duplex in an R-1 zone, a single-family residential district.
According to Mora city zoning ordinances, R-1 zones are primarily for single-family dwellings. With a conditional use permit, however, other structures can be constructed in an R-1 zone, such as churches, museums, cemeteries and duplexes.
Kelling’s proposed structure would be built on a 100-foot lot and surrounded by single-family homes. According to information from the planning commission, all property owners within 350 feet of the property were notified by letter of the CUP application and the Monday, Sept. 12, public hearing.
At that hearing, residents raised concerns about the construction of the duplex.
Erick Orton expressed that he didn’t want a duplex on the street because he didn’t want a rental property in the area.
Another resident, Zachary Chaffee, expressed concern with the water runoff onto his property and the number of rocks he has moved from his lawn back to the graded area. He was also concerned about the setback of the property.
Michael McCormick of Acorn Lane has been part of the area since 1962, when his parents moved in. He purchased a home in 2004 and doesn’t want a duplex in the neighborhood. One of his concerns is that “rentals are hit and miss,” and duplexes are usually rented out.
Eric Scobee moved in a year ago.
“I guess I would prefer not to have a bunch of renters,” he said, adding he would like to see people who want to settle down on the street and start a family.
Lorene Pletcher indicated her concern with the parking with two families living in one home. “In the winter you can’t park on the street. Where are they going to park?”
Irvin Erickson, who has lived in the neighborhood for 47 years, expressed his concern.
“Is it a low-income rental?” Erickson asked, adding his concerns about who will maintain the property and saying that he has seen an increased police presence at rental houses in the area.
Kelling addressed the group, saying that his goal was to rent the duplexes to senior citizens, who tend to take pride in their homes. This particular duplex would be two, one-story units that appeal to older people because of the absence of stairs.
Sara Treiber pointed out the legality of moving ahead with the conditional use permit.
“You all need to understand something, too,” she said. “This is a conditional use, which means it is a permitted use under a certain number of conditions.”
She added that as long as the property met all the conditions under the law, the commission had to allow the permit to move forward.
“If we say no because the neighbors don’t want it, that’s not going to work according to the ordinance and according to the law,” Treiber said. She added that many of the ordinances that are in city code are established as state law.
At the end of the meeting, Kelling noted that although his phone number is on all of his equipment at the duplex site, not a single person from the neighborhood reached out to him with the concerns presented at the meeting.
No decision was made regarding the duplex on Sept. 12, affording Faurie and City Administrator Glenn Anderson time to investigate neighbors’ concerns.
At the meeting held Monday, Sept. 26, the commission addressed the neighbors’ concerns and the findings of Faurie and Anderson. Five examples of approved CUPs for duplex structures in R-1 within the city of Mora were found. Based on these examples, it was determined that the property met all of the criteria for a conditional use permit. The commission voted to approve the CUP. The city council is expected to vote on the permit at its next meeting on Oct. 18.
When reached for comment last week, Kelling pulled no punches.
“‘Not in my neighborhood’ is a major contributor to our housing shortage,” Kelling said. “It reminds me of the people in the ‘Titanic’ movie scene in the half-full rescue boats refusing to let others in.
“This is the dilemma we face with every project, especially when it’s in response to administrators asking for our help addressing real problems for real people,” he added.