LIMA — An ongoing development aiming to build 12 townhome-style apartments on the site of the former Longfellow school, 1105 E. Market St., hit a snag Tuesday when Lima City councilors heard from neighbors worried about potential privacy concerns.
At the heart of the issue is an alley running alongside the property. Neighbor Kevin Binkley said he’s not opposed to the development itself, but he is concerned about increased traffic coming through the public alley, which Tetrad Partners plans on using as an access point for future tenants of the development.
Binkley said that his family currently takes care of the alley, which abuts almost directly beside a deck installed on his property.
In response, developer Mike Blass said the size of the lot allows for little wiggle room in making large-scale changes to development plans, and rearranging the site could reduce how many units fit on the property, which would ultimately change if the project would be worth the $500,000 investment.
“I’ve talked to our landscape architect and asked him to reconfigure those houses and get the same number of footprints in, and it’s not possible,” Blass said.
Responses from councilors varied. Councilor Carla Thompson said she had been on site to gauge neighborhood concerns, and she agreed that neighbors will be facing major changes if the development is pushed forward. She asked for some sort of compromise from Blass to see what could be done.
Blass, however, said that the compromise neighbors are requesting is not “doable.” Blass pointed at Lima’s current housing market as a detriment when trying to ensure new builds end up profitable. Relatedly, any significant change to the Tetrad Partners project plans could up end nixing any profits made.
“There’s not too many neighborhoods in Lima where we can build a single-family home and make it profitable,” Blass said.
Councilor Derry Glenn spoke largely in favor of new housing developments in Lima. Glenn said in the past he’s run across plenty of negative feedback against projects when they were first introduced, but when they are actually built, the reaction tends to be positive.
“There’s going to be some changes. Not everything is going to be the same, but you see our surveys, everyone is talking about housing,” Glenn said. “These are some changes that we have to deal with to make sure the city grows.”
Councilor Peggy Ehora said she’s aware of the challenges Lima faces in establishing high-quality housing and rental units, but if the Tetrad Partners is going to construct 12 apartments at 1105 E. Market, she said she’d like to see Blass work to be a good neighbor to those who already live in the neighborhood.
“I would challenge anybody to show me anything we’ve done as a company, as investors or as community members where we aren’t good neighbors,” Blass said. “If (the project)’s not workable or if it’s not profitable, I’m not going to build.”
Councilors took no official action on the project Tuesday. Glenn, the chair of the Neighborhood Concerns committee, said councilors will be given time to check out the site and get more information on the alley’s legal status before taking any official action. Under city code, councilors have until July 8 to amend, modify or reject the current special use permit already granted to the project.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.