Danedri Thompson
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Not in my backyard, residents of Waverly Pointe subdivision told the Gardner City Council Monday night.
More than 50 residents packed council chambers during an Oct. 4 meeting to voice their opposition to a proposal to build up to 48 apartments in the subdivision. Apartment residents could not exceed certain income requirements in order to rent there.
Kris Henry, a Waverly Pointe resident, told council members the proposal needs to be stopped right now.
“Call it what it is,” Henry said. “It’s going to be people with income of $25,000 paying rents of $500. Crime will go up. Drugs will go up in this community.”
In early September, council members agreed to issue a letter of support for the developer to obtain tax credits on the low-income apartment complex. Overland Property Group submitted an application to the Kansas Department of Housing in August for tax credits to build up to 48 units in three apartment buildings in Gardner’s Waverly Pointe subdivision in August.
Council’s resolution of support does not guarantee that revisions to Waverly Pointe’s preliminary development, which includes a Home Owners Association requiring that subdivision owners occupy their property, would be approved by the council or by the planning commission.
Overland Property Group only has an option on property in Waverly Pointe.
If they fail to win the tax credits from the state, the development group could re-apply for tax credits a second time next year or let the options to buy from the subdivision’s initial developer expire.
Brian McGee lives in Waverly Pointe and teaches at Gardner Edgerton High School where he coaches track. He said the high school recently joined the Eastern Kansas League – one of the premier athletic leagues in the state.
He said the proposed apartments’ proximity to the high school will create a stereotype of Gardner in the minds of the school’s athletic opponents.
“When those team buses come into Gardner, they will be saying, those are the projects of Gardner,” McGee said. “That will be the stereotype we will have to deal with.”
Diane Keller, also of Waverly Pointe, said the effects of the apartments on the school district would be damaging.
“I was raised in Kansas City, Kansas, in the projects,” Keller told the council. “I have gone to those high schools. I went to Schlagle (High School). I wouldn’t want to raise my kids there. I don’t want to see the drugs come back. I don’t want to see the gangs.”
Brett Johnson, a representative from Overland Property Group, told the concerned residents, that their new apartment neighbors would be upperwardly mobile.
“These are people that in most cases are on their way up,” Johnson told the council. “…Not in my backyard is not a valid excuse.”
He said many of the future residents likely already live in Gardner. He said there is a need for affordable housing in Gardner for hairdressers, teachers and police.
“We’re not bringing people in from somewhere else,” he said.
Dale White and his wife Charlene said they wouldn’t have purchased a house in Waverly Pointe had they known the apartments would be built next door.
He said they purchased a home in Gardner to put down roots – which he feared apartment dwellers would not do. He worried that renters won’t care for their properties.
“I have yet to see an apartment complex get better over time,” he told the council. “…If things like this go through, I can’t say that we’ll stay here.”
Following the public comment session, concerned residents continued to meet and discuss the proposed apartment complex outside council chambers with the current and potential developers.
Council did not take action on the issue. If Overland Property Group is successful in its bid for tax credits from the state, the developers will have to revise existing plat plans and seek approval from the Gardner Planning Commission and the city council.