Old Triplett School project moves forward

MOUNT JACKSON – The Town Council cleared the way for developers to build homes behind the old Triplett School Tuesday.

The council voted 3-0 on Tuesday to approve an application to subdivide property at 6044 Main St. that would allow the construction of eight duplexes, or 16 units, on open land once used as part of the school property. Councilmen Roger Rudy and Rod Shepherd and Councilwoman Whitney Miller voted in favor of the request. Councilman Donald Pifer abstained. Councilmen Ken Hackenbracht and Dennis Andrick did not attend the meeting.

Todd Holtzman, with Holtzman Oil Corp., is a partner with the contracted property owner 6044 Main St. LLC. Pifer and Andrick work for Holtzman Oil Corp.

The council voted about a year ago to sell the property to 6044 Main St. LLC for a fraction of the assessed value and, recently, approved the contracted owner’s request to rezone the building site and allow developers to turn the former school into a restaurant and brewery.

Town Manager Kevin Fauber told the commission the Board of Zoning Appeals met earlier that evening and granted the applicant’s request for a variance to the town’s setback requirements and allow the developer to put the desired number of duplex homes on the property.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the subdivision application on Monday before unanimously recommending that the council approve the request.

Tara Forsburg lives next to the property and urged town officials to work on a deal that could benefit all parties.

“It seems like since if the ink is not dry that there could be some room to make the neighbors happy, Mr. Holtzman happy and the town happy,” Forsburg said during the public hearing. “No one is tying themselves to the backstop and demanding that this not happen but we would just like it to be equitable for everyone.”

Forsburg said she and her neighbors wonder if the town could work with Holtzman to maintain the public alleyway by the property that some residents use. Former town manager Charlie Moore, who’s working with Holtzman on the project, said the plans call for the use of the town alley in the development of the units. The number of houses desired for the property would not fit if the development did not use the alley, Moore said. Holtzman concurred, noting that retaining the alley could have killed the project.

“The property is triangular and it took a lot of work to fit this many units in it,” Holtzman said. “The original plan was for 30, but because the units are so nice and have to meet a very high standard, we weren’t going to compromise the size of the unit and go smaller, so we’re down to eight buildings, 16 units, and the project was just barely viable from a cost-to-sale standpoint.”

Forsburg raised concerns about the potential traffic the proposed housing project would generate. Residents who live near the property bought their homes knowing that they would live near a school and field owned by the town, Forsburg noted. Moore commented that the planned senior citizen community would likely feature more pedestrians than drivers.

Neighbors of the property want reassurances that the subdivision won’t become rental properties, Forsburg said. There’s no requirement that the development be a retirement community, Holtzman said. The houses likely will sell for about $250,000, Holtzman said, meaning they won’t be homes for first-time buyers or rental units.

“That’s going to be good for you as a neighbor because it’s going to be a very nice development, very well done,” Holtzman said. “It’s gonna raise the property values around it.”