Two rezone requests received different results during a recent Seymour Plan Commission meeting.
Dusty Williams with Advanced Investment Solutions LLC wants the property at 636 N. Walnut St. to go from R-1 (single-family residential) to R-3 (multiple-family residential) so he can tear down the existing home and build a townhouse-style duplex.
The vote was 5-4 with an unfavorable recommendation. Don Bruce, Angie Klakamp, Bret Cunningham, Dave Eggers and Bernie Hauersperger voted against it.
Rickey Julian with Coomer’s Towing wants the property at 1060 E. 16th St. to go from R-1 to I-2 (heavy industrial) to move a fence 40 feet to the west to keep things hidden.
The vote was 6-3 with a favorable recommendation. Klakamp, Cunningham and Rick Schleibaum cast the nay votes.
Gary Colglazier and Dan Robison were absent.
Both cases advance to the Seymour Common Council for a final vote. The first reading will be done during a meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 in the council chambers at city hall, 301-309 N. Chestnut St., Seymour.
According to the Jackson County GIS, Advanced Investment Solutions has owned the 0.08-acre Walnut Street property since 2008. It currently consists of a one-story, single-family home, which Williams said recently was vandalized.
“It’s a distressed property,” he said. “We want to tear it down and reinvest into a new townhome-style duplex. The footprint of the building will be a little smaller than the existing building. The new building will be a two-story as opposed to a single-story that’s currently there.”
He said the current property value is about $100,000, and that would go up to $500,000 with his proposed plans.
“It goes in step with the stated city plan of providing new or affordable housing,” Williams said. “We’ll be able to build a new structure and upon completion be able to rent that cheaper than somebody would be able to take a mortgage out for the same cost.”
Commission President Jeri Wells asked what monthly rent would be, and Williams said he won’t know exactly until it’s built but estimated no higher than $1,800.
“A $250,000 mortgage on today’s rate is roughly $2,200 (per month), so we would be well under that, maybe cheaper than that,” he said. “We won’t really know until we get fully complete. The cost of materials changes daily, and then obviously, interest rates are changing daily. Thankfully, they are moving in a more favorable direction right now.”
Each unit would have three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Williams said he has built something similar on Washington Street in Columbus, and those have been very successful.
“Appeals to the neighborhood, doesn’t stick out in any way, blends right in, similar area,” he said.
He also noted he has invested in several properties in Seymour and rehabilitated them.
“This will be the first one we’ve actually torn down and rebuilt,” Williams said. “The Columbus property was a similar type property, where we tore it down and put something new back.”
When Wells asked if anyone wanted to speak in favor of or against the petition, Loretta Riehl, who lives across the street at 633 N. Walnut St., expressed concerns about the size of the building on a small lot. Williams said it would be 40 feet wide and 32 feet long and have 1,280 square feet on each floor.
“There’s just a little four-room house on there now,” Riehl said. “The northeast corner is approximately 3 feet from the alley, very little yard. To put two three-bedroom units there, there’s no parking. It would be right on the alley.”
She also expressed concern about what this new duplex would do to nearby property values and said she didn’t know what it’s going to be made of — brick or siding — and what it would look like in two years.
Williams said it most likely will have higher-end vinyl siding on the exterior, and the building going to two stories will be similar to other homes in the neighborhood.
While the footprint is smaller, he said the amount of square footage is higher, and he will be paying quite a bit more on property taxes because the property value will significantly increase.
“I like to build to where it’s a longstanding property,” he said. “We don’t resell something like this. We’ll be holding the property. We’ve held the property for quite some time already. My second generation (his son) is here, as well, so the intention is to hold and pass along.”
In terms of parking, he said the city requires a space and a half per unit, and there’s more than enough street parking to double that.
As for what the property would look like in the next two years, he shared photos of the property in Columbus and said at more than three years old, it looks no different than when it was constructed.
Cunningham asked why Williams didn’t choose to put a single-family home on the lot. While he recently invested $200,000 to rehab a 40-year-plus vacant property at 514 E. Fourth St., he said the property on Walnut Street doesn’t fit the business model for the type of investment he needs to do.
“The other thing of it is this property checks a lot of boxes for us as a business and holding it,” Williams said. “I want to create as great of value as we can for us, and the same time, the same for the neighborhood, and the same time, it’s a block step with the city and their desire to offer more housing. We’re adding an extra door.”
He also noted they are investing inside the city instead of on the outskirts.
“If this property were to go outside of town, it’s safe to say the property taxes would probably be a little less, but with us already owning the property, we don’t have to repurchase the lot, so that gives us also a competitive edge along with construction cost,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of boxes it checks.”
Schleibaum asked Williams why each unit has three bathrooms. Williams said the Columbus property is similar and meets the housing demand for students and working families in that area.
“What we found is they want more than the bath-and-a-half design,” he said. “For us from an appraisal standpoint, every bathroom that we can have, it gives you about $30,000 to $40,000 worth more value. It costs us more to construct it, but I think it makes the unit a lot nicer.”
Schleibaum also asked if the number of people for each unit would be limited. Williams said he follows Housing and Urban Development recommendations and has a provision in his lease that prohibits subleasing.
“It’s intended to be normal housing for a three-bedroom unit,” Williams said. “We only lease to one or two tenants per lease. I don’t lease to more than that.”
Wells said the higher rent will attract better tenants, so hopefully, there won’t be turnover and damages.
“When we come into a neighborhood, we want to leave it better than what we started with, and so by the way of the investment, I think with the type of structure we’re talking about, it’s far superior to what’s there,” Williams said during his final summary. “Nothing is perfect, you’re not going to please everybody, but after that’s done, property values will increase in the area.”
As for the towing business’ request, the property has been replatted, so the rezone is the final step in that process.
Cunningham said his issue with a rezone is if the business is sold, the property will remain I-2. If Julian would have requested a variance, that would just follow him and his business, Cunningham said.
“Industrial is a lot different. It would be hard for me to approve something knowing that anything that could go in I-2 if you sold your business could go in and replace that,” Cunningham said. “I don’t have anything against your business. It’s a necessity. My concern is what happens after you. Once it’s rezoned, anything that fits there can fit there. … I think this is a perfect place for a variance.”
Julian said Seymour Building Commissioner Jeremy Gray recommended a rezone since the property had been replatted. He said he’s not happy with the appearance of the property with things sitting outside, and he wants the fence to be moved to hide them.
“I have a little bit of trouble rezoning that as I-2,” Schleibaum said. “We have had a tendency of getting in trouble.”