Aldridge offers compromise for The Oaks development

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Contractor Wade Aldridge has offered a compromise solution to the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen in his efforts to convince city officials to approve a preliminary plat for the development of property he owns on Lakewood Drive.

Aldridge’s plan to build up to 17 small, single family houses for a proposed subdivision named The Oaks at Lakewood was approved by the city’s planning commission more than a month ago, but opposition from homeowners with property adjacent to the new structures, and from homeowners across the street at Lakewood Villages stopped the project when city board members balked at giving their approval to the Planning Commission’s vote.

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Last week the contractor told aldermen he would reduce the density of the development from 17 to eight or nine houses, provided the city accepts and maintains the street he will build to service the properties once the project is completed.

In exchange for less profit potential by reducing the number of houses, Aldridge hopes to offset his expenses by having the majority of the cost of building and maintaining a private road by having the city to carry that portion of the development.

The people voicing objections to The Oaks did not endorse the compromise at the meeting, with one of the group’s spokespersons saying her intention was to keep having the project delayed. When asked by an aldermen if there was any type of construction on the vacant land that would acceptable, she did not answer.

Aldridge has appeared before the board several times in the past month to answer questions about the project. He told board members his plans for the new houses are an approved use of the property, which was designated as a Planned Urban Development more than 27 years ago.

Under the guidelines of the approved PUD, Aldridge is allowed to construct apartments, duplex housing, or single family units. Those opposed to the project have argued that 17 small houses would make the neighborhood crowded with vehicles and not match the general look of the houses in the area.

The protesters further argued to aldermen they believe the houses Aldridge intends to build would attract renters rather than home buyers, indicating the overall quality of their neighborhood would be lessened by the presence of families who rent homes rather than buy them.

Aldridge said whether the sells or rents the houses is his decision to make, and not that of the neighbors nor city officials because the PUD guidelines clearly allow for tenants.

An attorney representing the contractor has repeatedly pointed out the PUD was approved many years ago, and almost all the homeowners bought their properties afterwards, each having the opportunity to inquire about the future plans for vacant property near the subdivision.

Homeowners who have appeared before the board and signed a petition to halt the project have countered with the argument of community standards and certain expectations that are assumed when purchasing higher-end homes in a semi-secluded part of a city.

Additionally, they have said the culture of their community would no doubt be changed if the land was developed as first proposed.

The mayor and board will meet again Tuesday. There has been no indication about the aldermen’s willingness to vote on the new proposed plat with its conditions at the meeting.