A rendering of a future single-family housing option within Monument Hills, a proposed development in northeast Iowa City. (Render provided by the City of Iowa City)

IOWA CITY — A proposed new subdivision in northeast Iowa City that would include single-family homes and a seniors’ community easily passed the Iowa City Council’s first vote on Tuesday.

Council unanimously approved Welch Design and Development’s application to rezone 64.37 acres west of Scott Boulevard and north of Rochester Avenue. Rezoning must pass two more votes.

Council members expressed excitement about the project, noting that it will feature a variety of accommodations. Residents, in public comments and emails to the city, shared their support for development and more living options for seniors.

“I am very excited about this project. … It looks like it will be a really wonderful asset to the city of Iowa City,” said board member Pauline Taylor.

A rendering of a future single-family housing option within Monument Hills, a proposed development in northeast Iowa City. (From Iowa City)

The Monument Hills project would include 64 single-family homes, as well as a seniors’ residence on the east side of the development. The proposed development is near Harvest Preserve and Calder Park.

There are existing houses to the west and south of the proposed development.

A map of Monument Hills, a proposed housing development on the northeast side of Iowa City. It will include 64 single-family homes, as well as a seniors’ community on the east side of the plot.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval for the rezoning last month.

The seniors’ residence, for people 55 and older, would include 12 single-family homes, three duplexes and a two-story multi-family building with 29 units. There would also be a clubhouse in the seniors’ residence that includes a fitness center, outdoor grilling area, meeting spaces, game rooms and other activities.

Additional senior residence

City staff said the addition of senior housing “will help meet an ongoing need” in the city.

The seniors’ community – named The Borough – would be managed by Vintage Cooperatives by Ewing Properties. The company has two retirement homes in Iowa City and Coralville, including one under construction in North Liberty.

Heather Ropp, regional manager of Ewing Properties, said the two existing communities are sold out with dozens of people on the waiting list.

“What we’ve seen is very strong demand for what we produce,” Ropp said.

The development of the seniors’ residence, Ropp said, promotes healthy aging by providing community and interaction. Residents are encouraged to use common areas and other features.

“We want them to form friendships,” Ropp said.

The proposed development would include the construction of Allison Way, Heron Drive and a private driveway for the seniors’ community. Access to the development will be via Rochester Avenue via Allison Way and the Heron Circle Extension. There would be no access via Scott Boulevard.

Welch Design and Development provided a traffic study at the request of transportation planning staff. The study shows that the proposed development will not overload the road network.

Added trail connection

To the north of the proposed development is Harvest Preserve, a private open space accessible to members. The owner has no plans to develop this area, according to the city.

A study of threatened and endangered species found that the development can be constructed in such a way as to avoid impacts on potential bat habitat. The plan sets aside 32.8 acres for conservation, said Michael Welch, owner of Welch Design and Development.

Staff asked the proponent to build a 10-foot-wide pathway to facilitate access to Calder Park. In a letter to council, Welch said the sidewalk will provide a “missing link” for the neighborhood.

Lemme Elementary School students who live north of Ralston Creek will be able to use the trail to get to school. Residents will also be able to walk to Olde Town Village businesses such as Shorts East and Dairy Queen.

“This plan continues the city’s goal of promoting walkable neighborhoods,” Welch said.

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