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Goshen Common Council denies zoning change for proposed Ariel Cycleworks apartments

ArielCycleworks-Goshen.png
Anderson Partners Development
/
Goshen Common Council
The Ariel Cycleworks apartments would be built on the former Western Rubber site south of downtown Goshen.

The Goshen Common Council denied a zoning change Monday for a proposed affordable apartment complex on the former Western Rubber brownfield site.

The $31 million Ariel Cycleworks project is being proposed by developer Anderson Partners. It would contain about 136 apartments and serve as “workforce” housing, meaning the vast majority of units would go for $900 to $1,400 a month — about 60 to 120 percent of area median income — and a portion would be set aside for rent by essential workers.

The proposal also includes 5,000 square feet of commercial space and a connection to the 9th Street bicycle greenway.

And because of the Western Rubber site’s status as a brownfield, it incorporates extensive green infrastructure and stormwater infrastructure to properly manage runoff.

A special tax financing district for the project won the council’s approval back in April, and a zoning change from industrial to residential mixed use development won approval from the city’s planning commission last month in a 5 to 4 vote.

But the Goshen Common Council voted down that zoning change 4 to 3 Monday, leaving the project’s future unclear.

In past meetings, nearby residents raised concerns about the potential for increased traffic and parking issues on 10th street if the apartments were built.

In response, Goshen redevelopment director Becky Hutsell said Monday the city could replace the water main, reconstruct the roadway and add sidewalks, on-street parking for existing residents, curbing and dry wells to facilitate drainage.

In addition, she said the city could add 31 paved public parking spaces on the Douglas Street right-of-way between the proposed development and the Gleason Industrial Products factory.

But the majority of speakers — most of whom were nearby residents — still urged the council to deny the zoning change. The most common concerns were still traffic and parking, although several speakers criticized the structure of the tax financing district the council approved in April.

Council member Megan Eichorn, who voted yes, said she respects the concerns of nearby residents.

“I also see the negative effects of not having enough housing in our community,” Eichorn said. “We need to allow for this apartment complex to go through.”

Council member Don Riegsecker, who voted no, agrees on the need for housing. But he said that as proposed, the Ariel Cycleworks development is not the best fit for the former Western Rubber site and that the concerns of neighbors should be taken into account.

“I like the project, but it’s massive and it takes up the whole area,” Riegsecker said.

In addition, Riegsecker said the project’s 10 requested zoning variances are “more than I am comfortable with.”

“It feels like we’re jumping into the deep end,” he said. “We have relaxed so many zoning requirements that future petitioners coming before the zoning board have a lot of precedent to bring to the commission in the future.”

City officials said the reason the project is requesting so many variances is because the city’s zoning code is designed for new, suburban developments.

Similarly, developer John Anderson said, “most of those variances” are so the company can “create the kind of project we want to create.”

“The zoning would have us put the building right in the middle of this four-acre lot and put parking all around it, which is not what we want,” Anderson said. “That’s a suburban apartment project.”

The variances, he said, would allow for parking in the interior of the lot, with the buildings and green space closer to the street — creating something “urban, rather than a nursing home in the middle of town.”

With the zoning denial, the project’s future is unclear as the current proposal may not be reconsidered by the city’s planning commission for one year.

However, an amended site plan could be submitted to the commission for consideration at any time.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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