A neighborhood group saved a 2.8-acre triangle of trees from development Tuesday when it convinced city leaders not to sell the land.
City staffers had hoped to fetch about $95,000 by selling the land for development of up to 23 apartments. The money would have been used to buy land for future street projects, said City Administrator Ken Thompson.
A group of about 30 residents told the City Council the patch of land at Fourth Street and Kathleen Avenue was worth more as a natural area.
The residents argued their neighborhood, one of the city’s fastest growing, has few parks. They also said more development at that intersection would worsen an existing traffic problem.
Resident Jane Curtis said the property is worth what it is because it’s zoned to allow apartments. If it was zoned to allow singlefamily homes like the rest of the neighborhood, the land would not be worth selling.
Other residents pointed out the money gained from a sale would have amounted to about 1 percent of the city’s annual street budget.
“I wonder how much we would get as a city if we sold Tubbs Hill?” asked resident John Bushfield. “Millions and millions. If you’re looking to sell city land to boost your budget, why not go all the way?”
Bushfield gave the council a petition signed by 166 residents who wanted the land to remain natural.
“If you sell it now, we won’t be able to get that kind of property back,” said resident Gerald Johnson.
Four City Council members agreed.
Councilman Ron Edinger told the crowd he had visited the property with his wife. When he asked her how she would have felt as a resident of that neighborhood, “My wife said she would go and tie herself to one of those trees.”“If we don’t sell this we have to remember the entire city is paying a price,” he said. “I think that’s justified, but remember it’s not free.”
Council members Nancy Sue Wallace and Kevin Packard voted to sell the property.
Also Tuesday night, the Council sent a proposal to annex 69 acres along Prairie Avenue back to the planning commission for its review.
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