Gladding Parkway topic at planning commission meeting

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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A back-and-forth discussion about who should foot the bill for a portion of Gladding Parkway dominated a three-hour Planning Commission meeting April 18. The portion of Gladding Parkway in question goes through the proposed Meadowlands Project. About six residents also expressed their concerns about the project. The project was on that night’s Planning Commission agenda for five items, including certification of the project’s final environmental impact review, a general plan amendment for rezoning, and approval of a tentative subdivision map and development permit. The Planning Commission voted to recommend the approval of those five items to the City Council. The items will go before the City Council and a tentative date for that is June 12, according to Lincoln’s assistant director of development services George Dellwo. The project is a 108-acre parcel of land located northwest of East Avenue and 9th Street, according to Dellwo. The project is zoned for 40.5 acres of low density residential, 5.2 acres of high density residential, 50.4 acres of open space and 1.6 acres of park, according to Dellwo. Out of 124 conditions of approval that the city placed on the plan’s vesting tentative subdivision map, the project’s legal representative Marcus Lo Duca told the commission there “were only two items they wanted to amend.” The fourth condition states that “the land owner shall irrevocably offer to dedicate the future alignment of the Gladding Parkway … to the city of Lincoln.” The eighth condition states that “frontage improvements along East Avenue shall conform to the city’s improvement plans for the Gladding Parkway and East Avenue Project” with the construction of curb, gutter, sidewalk, landscape and street improvements. It also states that “the developer will be eligible to receive PFE (public facilities element) credits for improvements that are included in the PFE program.” In relation to condition number 4, Lo Duca said, that would mean “dedication of 5.6 acres for the Gladding Parkway right-of-way” or 10 percent of the project’s open space. “Plain and simple, our project functions without the need for it,” Lo Duca said. “The only reason for Gladding Parkway is to deal with future growth for other villages. They are driving the need, not us.” Gladding Parkway is listed in the General Plan as “a minor arterial route to State Route 65 on the east side of Lincoln,” according to Dellwo, and has a goal of “relieving traffic congestion on State Route 65.” In relation to condition eight, Lo Duca said, “We think it’s impossible to comply with that portion” since it’s not known when the rest of the parkway would be built. Dellwo argued that the parkway portion would need to be built to provide emergency access to the high-density homes that would run along Gladding Parkway. Lo Duca wanted to amend the eighth condition of approval, adding that the portion of the parkway would be built “provided the city has approved plans for frontage projects.” The commission decided to amend items number four and eight. Number four now reads that the developer “shall reserve” the 5.6 acres for Gladding Parkway and for each building permit around Gladding Parkway to “receive credits applicable to the pooled PFE fee as described herein, in a per unit credit amount to be determined within 90 days of approval of the tentative subdivision map.” Number eight now reads that “provided the city has approved improvement plans for the Gladding Parkway/East Avenue Project, frontage improvements along East Avenue shall conform to the city’s improvement plans for the Gladding Parkway/East Avenue Project.” The majority of residents addressing the commission talked about how the proposed high-density residential and the Meadowlands development in general would impact Lincoln. “May I suggest personally that the developers (look at) First Street?” June Stefani said. “Think twice. You saw what happened with high density on First Street.” The type of high-density residential development has not yet been planned, according to Dellwo, and would have to be approved by City Council “when the developers have a specific project.” Resident Don Baxter said his “concern was high-density residences.” He wants the homes to be for sale so there is “no more stuff like on First Street and Fifth Street.” “Most of old town is affordable housing. We have so much affordable housing. I don’t understand why we have to keep putting apartments in,” Baxter said. “The ones by the Post Office look nice.” Resident Rosalyn Baxter, who said she is a retired teacher’s aide from Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School, expressed concern over the school’s ability to hold new students. “I disagree that the school district is ready for more students at Coppin,” Rosalyn Baxter said. “They are having layoffs of teachers.”