Public input helps drive approval of Vista Drive complex

Though conflict may have plagued early development plans for the vacant lot at Indian Hill and Vista Drive, the Planning Commission Tuesday approved a project all could agree with.

Developers, commissioners and residents shared in the approval of adding a townhome-style complex to the 1.75-acre vacancy adjacent to the Wheeler Park neighborhood in south Claremont.

Residents have been actively involved in the process since The Olson Company Housing, LLC first brought plans forward for an early review last year. Though city officials admitted they were hesitant to open the project up to public comment so early in the process, it proved advantageous.

“There has been a lot of public discussion and you guys took it to heart,” said Commissioner Martin McLeod addressing the developer. “Truly it’s been a joy to watch this whole thing evolve.”

More than 40 Wheeler Park neighbors flooded City Hall last July with concerns about the project. Many were unhappy with the complex’s layout and design among other features. Chief among their concerns was the developer’s proposed rezoning of the lot to accommodate a higher density.

The complex’s arrangement posed another problem. Having garages detached from the homes themselves, seemed inconvenient for potential homeowners, Marygrove Road homeowner Jim Keith had noted. And the layout, with the backside of the homes facing the rest of the neighborhood, was excluding of the rest of the existing neighborhood.  

“It looked to us like a place where people wouldn’t want to stay for very long,” Mr. Keith has said.

The Olson Company responded by revisiting plans with the help of their neighbors. Three community meetings were held following the initial review, at which time the development plan was completely reworked with community input. The updated plan, which no longer includes the rezoning of the lot, will move forward for the city council’s final approval in coming months.  

Twenty-one detached, single-family homes will make up the Spanish-style “Indian Hill & Vista” complex The Olson Company is proposing. The two-story dwellings will range from 1,341-square feet in size with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths to 1,784 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. All will come with a 2-car garage, which will face out to the adjacent neighborhood by suggestion of Mr. Keith and other local residents.

Complying with the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, 3 of the homes will be offered at moderate-income pricing. The rest will be sold at market rates. 

Again addressing residential concern, Olson Company officials have added a block wall, with a maximum height of 8 feet, along Indian Hill Boulevard. Landscaping will be added as a buffering between the sidewalk and the wall. Additionally, the bus stop currently adjacent to the lot will be shifted 40 feet to the south for pedestrian safety, a decision that pleased Vista Drive resident Adrienne Douglas and others. 

Mr. Keith was equally pleased by the revamped design of the complex. By Tuesday’s meeting his initial concern of a high turnover rate at the complex had been dispelled as a thing of the past.

“It look like [this complex] is going to fit into the neighborhood and attract people to stay their for much longer,” Mr. Keith shared. “I’m very pleased with how much work has been done.”

—Beth Hartnett


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