Riverdale’s Planning & Zoning Commission met for the first time in 2019 on Wednesday, December 18th, to hold a public hearing and eventually pass along their recommendation to the City Council to approve the final plat for the first phase of the Woods Estates of Riverdale subdivision. The nearly 2-1/2 hour meeting included a lengthy
discussion of the project in general with developer Seth Woods present to answer questions from the public and commissioners.
All commissioners were present either in person or telephonically with the exception of Jim Behrens. With P&Z Chair Bill Briesch out of town (but present via speakerphone), Vice Chair Wendy Syverud ran the meeting and gaveled the public hearing into order a little after 7pm.
Vice Chair Syverud explained to the nearly 20 people present that letters had been sent to all property owners owning land within 1,000 feet of the boundaries of Phase 1 informing them of the hearing and pending action before the Commission. She also reviewed the facts that letters asking for comment had also been sent to MSA Professional Services (the City of Riverdale’s engineering consultant) and various Scott County departments as required by law. While a response has been received from MSA, no residents or county officials had responded with questions or concerns as of the time of the meeting.
MSA Professional Services letter provides review of entire project to-date
The final review/recommendation letter from Engineer Chris Cooper (of MSA Professional Services) provided a comprehensive review of the steps taken to review and document progress on the Woods Estates project. Together with attachments showing correspondence and notes where necessary, the document provides a clear summary as to where the project currently stands and what final items still need to be completed even after the approval of the final plat.
Several pages of engineering drawings for the phase (prepared by the Developer’s engineering firm, J+M) were marked up by Mr. Cooper and sent along to the City to help explain/illustrate some of the items discussed in his correspondence.
Concerns about Woods Estates from Deerbrook residents
Also in attendance at the public hearing were several residents from the Deerbrook neighborhood in Bettendorf whose property either abuts or looks into the back-end of the Woods Estates subdivision. Comments ranged from surprise to concern about wildlife, erosion problems and the increased possibilities for home invasions and property crimes in the neighborhood.
While none of the concerns related to the approval of the Phase 1 final plat, both the members of the P&Z Commission and other city officials present (most notably, the city administrator and mayor) tried to address each issue. Concerns about preserving wildlife habitat and dealing with erosion problems in the waterway running from the end of Fieldcrest around the northwest corner of the city and between the subdivisions were discussed extensively.
City resident Steve Townsend explained how important it was that the wild areas Deerbrook residents wanted to see remain undisturbed be managed in a way to reduce the amount of invasive vegetation and to work on improving the quality of timber in the area. Mayor Mike Bawden explained that although the goal is to have the area remain a fairly undisturbed wild space, there would have to be some construction activity in the ravine in the near future to deal with the drainage issues.
The residents most concerned about the plight of the deer and other creatures living in the wilderness behind their homes were invited to participate in the City’s on-going parks planning process to they could contribute their thoughts and suggestions for consideration as Riverdale formalizes its parks and land management strategy for the future.
Developer answers questions remaining from October 2018 P&Z meeting
Following the public hearing, the P&Z Commission continued with its meeting and took up consideration of its recommendation regarding the approval of the final plat for Phase 1.
The three main issues raised by the commission at that time were:
- The need for design covenants for the subdivision.
- The lack of any kind of written plan for the replacement of trees/foliage resulting from the developer’s activities.
- The failure to reimburse the City of Riverdale for out-of-pocket costs incurred on behalf of the project.
Mr. Woods addressed the questions about architectural covenants for the subdivision by showing that covenants (reviewed and approved by the City’s attorney and administrator) were completed and part of the record provided for review. Mr. Woods also invited any commissioner or resident interested in viewing those covenants at work to visit the Walsh Pointe development on Utica Ridge Road (across from Crow Valley). The covenants Mr. Woods established for Woods Estates are the same.
Next, Mr. Woods reviewed the foliage plan for Woods Estates and explained that he would be replacing the trees taken out as part of the development process with more than 1,000, higher quality trees. Documents provided earlier to the Riverdale City Council and then to the P&Z Commission showed photos of how the landscaping would look (again, using Woods’ own Walsh Pointe development as an example).
Finally, with regard to the financial situation between the City of Riverdale and Woods Development, the mayor reviewed the details of the “agreement in principal” between the two parties and explained that an addendum to the current Development Agreement that spells out how expenses and reimbursement are to be handled in more precise language than what currently exists.
Plans for the future of Woods Estates of Riverdale
Mr. Woods expressed some regret as to how the first phase of this project progressed and told the commission he plans on presenting the final plat for Phase 2 earlier on in the process and won’t begin work on any of the infrastructure (roads and utilities) until he’s received approval on the plan. He also said he would provide a timeline for each phase as they are presented – both a requirement of the City’s ordinance and a helpful communications tool to make the entire process run more smoothly.
Following the open discussion, members of the Commission seemed satisfied and voted to recommend approval of the final plat of Phase 1 to the City Council.
The Council will meet to consider acceptance of the Phase 1 final plat following a public hearing on Tuesday, January 7 at 7pm.