To promote the building of single-family housing in northern Independence, the Independence School District last month and the city Monday night both have conveyed parcels of land.
Independence City Council also Monday approved the necessary rezoning for ISD's project, which involves students working with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to build a house at 1300 N. High St., just north of William Chrisman High School and next to a house that students will be renovating.
The school district had owned the two lots for years, and the Board of Education voted last month to convey the empty lot to Habitat. The two organizations will partner together on the new house, and that project will be a capstone course for ISD Academy students.
The school district will retain ownership of the 1304 lot, where students are rehabbing another house as part of coursework.
With another project, the council voted to convey to Wilson Concrete and Construction the land at 1631 E. Salisbury Road – the former site of the Beauty Rest Motel. The city had purchased the 0.91-acre property for about $84,000 nearly two years ago and had the 11 deteriorated dwellings there torn down later in the summer.
Between August 2016 and October 2017 the city issued three requests for proposals without a hit, then did so again in January with Wilson being the lone responder. Wilson, which is less than a mile away on U.S. 24, has proposed building three single-family houses, 1,500 square feet apiece, on the site. It will also extend utility lines to do so.
“Quality, affordable housing is one of the biggest issues in our city,” Mayor Eileen Weir said. “What we can do to promote construction of that is in the best interest of the city.”
Council Member Karen DeLuccie was the lone of dissent on the Salisbury land conveyance, as the city had paid for the lot and demolition. She noted it was the third time she had voted against the city conveying land – the parking lot for McClain-constructed townhouses and the vacant plot next to Little Richard’s Family Restaurant for its new building.
“I will never agree to it,” she said.
Council Member Curt Dougherty countered that the former motel land had been become blight and occupied by vagrants, drug dealers and the like, the city had made a fair attempt to sell the land and now it have productive citizens.
“Just by tearing it down, we have saved money,” he said. They will now have three families there, not empty properties, families who will use our utilities and pay taxes. We'll gain this money back several times over.”
Council Member Scott Roberson added that the city won't have to pay to keep the lot mowed as it has for a couple years.
• In other action, the council also approved a new comprehensive plan, “Imagine Independence 2040 – A Community Vision.” The plan, which replaces a 1993 version, includes several key goals from the five-year strategic plan, but the city explains that the two documents serve different purposes. The strategic plan helps officials focus resources to meet those goals, while comprehensive plan focuses on the city's physical development over a longer period of time.
The city, aided by a consulting firm and citizen steering committee, conducted various forms of public engagement in 2017 to help form the plan. It is divided to highlight five key areas: community identity, business and jobs, neighborhoods and housing, facilities and land use.