Efforts to land an apartment complex in Smiths Grove continue to come up short, but two other apartment developments totaling 290 units were approved Thursday by the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County.
In a meeting held in the Bowling Green City Commission chambers, the commissioners also approved an application to build a wireless communications (cellphone) tower in the Oakland community that is expected to improve coverage for former Bluegrass Cellular customers now being served by Verizon Wireless.
The commissioners approved the application of The Hub at Lovers Lane LLC headed by developer David Chandler to rezone 9.86 acres along Hub Boulevard and Cooksey Lane from highway business to multi-family residential.
That rezoning, which will go to the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval, is expected to lead to development of 210 more apartments in The Hub, bringing the total number of apartments in the 103-acre residential and commercial development to 1,030.
The commission barely mustered a quorum for the vote on The Hub application. Only city of Bowling Green and Warren County representatives were eligible to vote on the application under the commission’s new rules. The rezoning passed 4-0, with Christiaan Volkert abstaining because he has a financial interest in The Hub.
Another 80-apartment development was approved Thursday, this one at the corner of Veterans Memorial Lane and Thames Valley Way.
The application of Ralpeshkumar Patel of the Thames Valley Property LLC to rezone 3.9 acres from highway business to multi-family residential will result in a development with a density of 20.52 dwelling units per acre, but attorney Chris Davenport argued that the high density was still a good fit in the area near Preston Miller Park.
“It’s bordered on three sides by high-density residential and on the other side by the park,” Davenport said. “This is a very good infill request.”
The commissioners agreed, first passing a Future Land Use Map amendment 7-0 and then passing the rezoning 5-0. The rezoning will go to the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval.
Another apartment development – this one in Smiths Grove – didn’t fare as well, even on its third try.
An application by Bryan Groce to develop 48 apartments along Stanley Rice Road in Smiths Grove was denied by the commissioners despite Groce’s tweaking of an application that failed in July after being withdrawn in June.
That July application, which called for development of 236 apartments on 12.6 acres, was rejected unanimously in a meeting attended by some two dozen Smiths Grove residents opposed to the plan.
This time, Groce scaled the development plan down considerably.
Attorney Tad Pardue, representing Groce, told the commissioners: “We hope you appreciate that these are two totally different proposals. The overall size and scope of the development was the main reason for denying the FLUM amendment last time.”
Pardue pointed out that the density of Groce’s development was dropped from 19 dwelling units per acre to 13.
As for the other dozen or so acres that Groce still owns in the area, Pardue said his client has no plans to build any more apartments on that property.
Still, some commissioners and Smiths Grove residents expressed concerns that Groce could sell the property to another developer who would put up more apartments.
“It looks to me that if you approve this one you open the door to other developments, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Smiths Grove resident Jim Cushenberry. “There’s no way that would be compatible with what we have in Smiths Grove.”
Groce’s application for a FLUM amendment failed, so the application to rezone the property didn’t come to a vote.
Unlike that apartment plan, the application of Verizon Wireless and property owners Robert Isenberg and Joyce Wiley to put a 250-foot cell tower along Trunk Springs Farm Street near Oakland sailed through without opposition.
Russell Brown, the attorney representing Verizon, explained that the tower will “fill in a gap in this area of the county.”
A document presented with Verizon’s application explained the need for a new tower.
According to the document: “Currently the area is experiencing high demand for wireless high-speed data. Growth forecasts have triggered the need for an additional site in the area. The tower is needed to provide all Verizon customers in the area with the best experience on their 4G wireless devices.”
Planning Commission Executive Director Ben Peterson reminded the commissioners that the second of a series of public meetings regarding updates to the Focus 2030 Comprehensive Plan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14 in the Capitol Arts Center.
Peterson said planning commission staff and the discussion panel will be covering current trends in housing, workforce, transportation and other topics at the Dec. 14 meeting.