A rezoning request within the Summer Crossing housing addition that would allow for the construction of a senior housing project on 6.4 acres of property in Summer Crossing at S. Anderson Ave. and Summer Drive (a platted but not constructed street) from single-family dwelling to multi-family dwelling will be on the agenda of the next Newton City Commission meeting after being rejected by the commission in December.

The rezoning request, made by Harder Properties owned by Ron Harder, was reviewed by the Newton -North Newton Area Planning Commission Feb. 4. The planning and zoning group voted 4-3 to recommend granting the request. In December, the planning commission voted on a split vote, 3-2, to deny the request based on the size the rezoning request weighed against the property selected for the project.

The city commission will take up the matter again Feb. 12.

Homeowners in Summer Crossing filed a protest petition against the request prior to the December meeting, seeking to block a change from R-1 (single-family residence) to R-3 (multi-family). Included in acceptable uses for R-3 would be single-family homes, historical sites, public parks, playgrounds, day cares, churches, libraries, schools, museums, rights-of-way for utilities, rights-of-way for railroads, multi-family homes, flexible multi-family developments and houses for lodging, rooming and fraternities.

The requested area for the zoning change is larger than the 6.4 acres, encompassing more than 50 other lots outside the 6.4 acres. Harder owns 33 of 63 lots adjacent to the requested rezoning.

Homeowners who spoke to the planning commission and the city commission stated they were told when they purchased or constructed their homes that the area would remain single-family residential.

“Am I against senior housing in this area? Absolutely not,” said Rich Evangelista, who spoke on behalf of several homeowners during the city commission hearing. “I am 52, I am only a couple years away from it. My wife is closer than that. The fact of the matter is I am almost there. … The fact of the matter is I am against multiplex housing in my neighborhood."

The proposed senior housing project is for a multiplex facility located on S. Anderson Ave. containing 26 one bedroom apartments, 14 two bedroom apartments and 20 two bedroom apartments with attached garages. The proposal contains 70 parking spaces.

Jan. 22 the city commission voted 5-0 for a resolution of support for a senior housing project — whether it is placed in Summer Crossing or not. The resolution was needed by developers to apply for a tax credit/grant to assist with construction of the project. The resolution supports the construction of the project in "the community," pending it meeting all laws and codes — including zoning.

“This is more of an agreement that we believe we need a project like this, and it does not have to happen there,” said Mayor Kathy Valentine.

The project, proposed by Red-Wood Developments of Joplin, Missouri, would include 60 rental units targeted at those 55 and older or tenants with special needs. The property targeted for the project is 6.74 acres on the east side of S. Anderson Ave., north of SW 24Th — within the Summer Crossing Addition.

The resolution of support asked for by the developers supports an application for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit from the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation. Similar programs were used for the recent Prairie Fire and Cottonwood Crossing developments. In exchange for the tax credit, developers agree to keep the rents affordable for a 30-year period for families with incomes at or below 60 percent of local median incomes. The grant application seeks funding for about 80 percent of the rental units to be accessible as low-income housing.

"All of the units will be identical in build, materials and layouts," said Kelly McElroy, assistant city manager. "... The caveat here is this is a grant application. They may, or may not, receive the grant. In the case of Prairie Fire, they applied for 25 units and they received eight. ... Typically KHRC receives about eight times the number of applications for funding than they can provide."

The grant is for tax credits that owners of the property can use against federal taxes.

The grant application was at the end of January while the rezoning request was not complete. According to city staff, if the zoning issue cannot be resolved, an alternate site would need to be found for the housing project to move forward.