By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A Yukon advisory board has unanimously rejected a proposal for a 12-duplex development on Yukon’s east side just north of Main Street.
The Yukon Planning Commission, at its Jan. 11th meeting, voted 4-0 to deny a rezoning request and planned unit development (PUD) for Ashton Place. This recommendation will be forwarded to the city council.
Several planning commissioners expressed concerns about the proposed duplex development deviating from the Yukon Comprehensive Plan, which designates the 4.7-acre property for low-intensity commercial development.
Neighboring property owners shared concerns during the meeting and with commissioners about increased traffic and lower property values with the addition of 12 more duplexes.
Developer Ashton Gray LLC and owner F. Barry Tapp are seeking the City of Yukon’s permission to develop the property on the east side of N Yukon Parkway north of Highway 66. The Ashton Place proposal calls for the development of 12 lots with new duplex structures.
There is a day care center to the north and a large church directly south of the Yukon Parkway site, with nearby housing developments – Preston Park, Yukon Crossing, River Birch Estates, Smoking Oaks, Von Elm, and Rosewood.
“We built a lot of housing, and we’ve got it on a two-lane road,” Yukon Planning Commission Chairman Bill Baker said. “It’s not even an extra-wide two-lane road, and it does not have a (dedicated) right-turn lane when you come southbound on the two-lane road.
“Sunday is a non-starter. You can’t get in and out of there in an hour on Sunday, period. And we’re not going to have any less development, especially when the retail development (built but not occupied) goes in across the street.”
Planning commissioner Jeff Geis said the proposed Ashton Place duplex development conflicts with the property’s designated use in the 2040 Yukon Comprehensive Plan adopted by the city council.
Planning commissioner Nick Grba agreed.
“People put a lot of time and effort into that Comprehensive Plan for a reason,” Grba said. “If we can stick to that, it’s going to better for Yukon in the long run.”
Grba also shared traffic concerns, believing the new duplexes would have a “pretty large effect on traffic” in that area.
Attorney David M. Box, representing the applicant, hinted that a City of Yukon denial of this project could be challenged in district court.
“I anticipated this result, and this is likely going to move somewhere higher,” Box said.
Box told planning commissioners the proposed duplex development complies with all provisions of the City of Yukon’s ordinances. The attorney noted city staff recommended approval with conditions that the applicant agrees to follow.
“We believe we have provided an application now that is in keeping with what we believe to be compatible with development in the area,” he said.
Box noted that zoning to the west – for the multi-use Yukon Crossing development – provides for more duplex development (72 structures) than what the Ashton Place developer proposes.
Although the applicant wants to build duplexes, city planner Cindy Wright’s report to planning commissioners noted the City of Yukon’s Comprehensive Plan designates the site for low-intensity commercial.
“Although the proposed use is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan designation, properties surrounding the subject site seem to be developing at a lower intensity than the commercial designation that is currently in place,” Wright wrote in a report to the Yukon Planning Commission.
“Additionally, an R-2 use seems to be a good fit from the standpoint of the Comprehensive Plan, serving as a transitional density between a low commercial designation and that of a residential designation.”
The undeveloped property is now zoned C-3 (restricted commercial district) and must be rezoned to R-2 (combined residential district) to allow duplexes to be built.
The proposed Ashton Place PUD lists conditions covering regulations for: Architectural standards, landscaping, lighting, screening, open space, vehicle access, sidewalks, parking, signage, lot size and coverage, setback, structure height, public improvements, and common area maintenance standards and regulations.
Of note, the exterior of all structures would consist of “a minimum of 70%” brick, brick veneer, rock, concrete, stucco, concrete-board, or stone masonry. No more than 30% architectural metal will be permitted, and no vinyl siding will be allowed.
Proposed lot sizes are a minimum of 10,000 square feet.
Proposed street names are Ashton Lane and Grey Street.
Several Yukon residents close to the proposed Ashton Place project voiced their opposition to new duplexes being built there.
Rhonda Dennis, of Tea Rose Drive, wanted to “go on the record” in opposition to the planned development.
Dennis had shared concerns with planning commissioners in November 2019 about traffic and surrounding property values when the multi-use Yukon Crossing development was starting.
“It’s our opinion that building more duplexes at this time, with 72 yet to be sold (in Yukon Crossing), is not in our best interest or in the best interest of Yukon,” said Dennis, president of the Rosewood Homeowners Association.
Traffic congestion that already exists on the two-lane Yukon Parkway north of Highway 66 also has heightened concerns. Dennis called it a “nightmare” several times daily.
“We’ve had homeowners, including myself, sitting on Yukon Parkway for up to 15 minutes waiting for back traffic and other traffic just to get to the light at 66 and Yukon Parkway,” she shared.
Dennis listed several housing additions, churches, a daycare center, and grocery store that contribute vehicle traffic to a small stretch of road.
“Adding more homes or any construction, really, would simply just add insult to injury,” Dennis said.
The Rosewood HOA president also reiterated concerns about declining property values.
“We’re very concerned about our property values – as they are now with the 72 duplexes going in,” she shared. “Adding 12 more – we don’t feel that’s best for our property values.”
Although the City of Yukon requires developments abutting a section line road to pay fees for future road improvements, there are no current budgeted plans to four-lane that section of Yukon Parkway north of Highway 66.
Yukon Development Services Director Mitchell Hort cited the considerable costs of needed drainage improvements, which must be made from Highway 66 to Wagner Road.
Matthew Gerred, of N Yukon Parkway, said rezoning this property east of Yukon Parkway for duplexes is not a “reasonable” decision with churches and a daycare center next to the site – and more development pending across the street.
“We have crazy congestion there, multiple times a day,” he told commissioners.
Gerred noted the proposed Ashton Place site was purchased and zoned as a commercial property.
“There’s plenty of residential land around,” he said.
“I just can’t understand why we would choose this area to rezone and then put high density in a place that’s already overrun with traffic and is fixing to be even more overrun.”
Ed Brown, of N Yukon Parkway, said he doesn’t like the idea of the proposed new duplexes being sold to become rental property.
He believes that could hurt his neighborhood and the City of Yukon.
“Rental property, as you know, a lot of times has a tendency to go downhill pretty quickly,” Brown said.
Civil engineer Kendall Dillon tried to reassure the neighboring residents and planning commissioners that the traffic input from Ashton Place would be minimal.
“The proposal before you tonight is simply 12 duplex lots,” Dillon said. “This development will generate basically 14 trips during the ‘peak’ hour which, from a traffic analysis standpoint, is basically negligible.”
Since the property already is zoned restricted commercial, the project engineer reasoned that a 45,000 square foot retail center “could fit on that site” generating “substantially greater” traffic.
The Ashton Place developer will pay its portion of future section road improvements for the proposed project’s 450 feet of Yukon Parkway frontage, Dillon added.