Bronwyn’s Council Preview, December 19, 2017: The Return of Trinitas, Greekland Abatement, and Old Crawford

We’re back for another meeting, one week after the last one. This week is dominated by housing-related items, including a tax incentive for Greek houses to rebuild, the return of a proposal for a 800-plus bedroom development on West Lincoln Way, the conversion of Old Crawford into a senior living facility, the affordable housing development at 321 State Ave., and rental occupancy limits.

The Ames City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. The agenda includes:

Item 18: Hearing on amendment to the east university impacted area urban revitalization plan to include criterion to allow tax abatement for construction of new Greek residences

Some history: In 2005, the council developed a tax incentive program for Greek houses to renovate their existing buildings. This was done in an effort to preserve the historic and aesthetic character of the area, as well as to mitigate the cost of installing sprinkler systems, which Greek houses were required to do if they renovated (in order to come into compliance with code). In 2012, Sigma Chi came to the council with a plan to demolish and rebuild, and a request for a tax incentive to do so. At that time, the council voted 5-1 to have staff bring back some options on such a tax abatement. Somehow, this fell through the cracks. Staff didn’t return with any options, the council never actually voted to approve such a program, and Sigma Chi rebuilt anyway. Now they’re back, asking the current council to approve this tax abatement for new construction and consider both Sigma Chi and Delta Tau Delta eligible retroactively for the abatement. (Delta Tau Delta rebuilt just after Sigma Chi.) The incentive for those two properties would total $750,000 over the course of the abatement.

Item 19: Hearing on rezoning and major site development plan for 398 S. 500th Ave. and property west of 5508 Lincoln Way from agricultural to Planned residence district

Trinitas is back after having been turned down for their 860-bedroom development on West Lincoln Way. They are now proposing a 855-bedroom alternative. They have proposed a 46-unit apartment building on the southeast corner to be used for “workforce housing” (non-student focused) while 214 units and 89 percent of the total beds would remain student-focused. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended 5-2 against this most recent proposal, citing concerns about transportation, density, and reduced pressure on the student-housing market.


Item 20: Second passage of ordinance limiting rental occupancy in single- and two-family residences

Last week, I wrote, “This has been one of the bigger issues of 2017, as the state took away our prior method of limiting rental occupancy. The ordinance we’ll be voting on Tuesday limits occupancy to three adults in a one, two, and three bedroom house, and would allow one adult per bedroom in 4 or 5 bedroom house. The ordinance would also require a minimum of two parking spaces for one, two, and three bedroom houses, and would require one parking space per bedroom for 4 and 5 bedroom houses.”

The first reading of this ordinance passed last week 5-1; now we’re back for the second reading.

Item 21 415 Stanton Ave. (Old Crawford School)

Plans to develop the Old Crawford School into a senior living facility are proceeding. This week’s action item includes approving the contract rezoning agreement and the third reading of the rezoning ordinance.

An additional agenda item will be the approval of the 321 State Ave. development agreement and awarding the public improvement contract.

Thanks for reading,
Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen
City Council At-Large

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Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen
Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen is an at-large member of the Ames City Council. She is also a manager at Wheatsfield Cooperative and the co-owner of Cycles Recycling.