Residents of Roxey Place, a 46-house subdivision off of Eagle Road, may not love the developers looking to build 46 apartments directly adjacent to their neighborhood, but they’re going to have to get along.
After all, they equally share the costs of maintaining a pedestrian pathway connecting the two developments now.
Neighbors had a rough start with Ethan Helmer, the developer of the project, and Bob Ungar of ULC Management, who represented Helmer while Helmer moved to Boise. At a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting held in July to discuss the project, Jennifer Stevens, chair of the commission, chastized Ungar for not encouraging “neighborliness” when interacting with residents living near the proposed development.
Developers may have met the letter of the law when holding meetings on the project, Stevens told him at the time, but the parts of the city code requiring neighborhood meetings were not “a box for you to check” but rather an opportunity to encourage community.
The Planning and Zoning Commission ultimately approved the project, which will be on 3.1 acres at 5571 N. Eagle Road, despite concerns from neighbors about traffic and parking. The units are planned to be two bedrooms, and each is planned to have 1,064 square feet of living space.
The Roxey Place Subdivision No. 1 Homeowners Association appealed that decision to the Boise City Council, asking the council to reconsider the approval of the permit for the new apartments and to have the applicant restart the whole process.
Neighbors were worried about a path that connects the existing Roxey Place subdivision with Audra Lane (which connects directly with Eagle Road). The path was required as a condition of approval for the existing subdivision when it was built, and closing it would require separate approval of the City Council.
A connection to more than just the community, the path serves as a way to get to Charles F. McDevitt Youth Sports Complex to the south without having to traverse Eagle Road. If the apartments were approved, the path would become would become “a one-way burden upon the homeowners of Roxey Place,” Dustin Carlson, speaking for the homeowners association, said.
The path in question, which is approximately 350 feet long, would open the neighborhood to “traffic and safety issues” because of anticipated overflow parking from the apartments, Carlson argued. He also said it would also become a burden on the HOA to maintain the path. Other neighbors testified many of the same concerns.
Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg asked one resident what would happen if the pathway were to be closed, posing a hypothetical of how children in one neighborhood would visit a friend living in the adjacent one. Her concern was that closing the pathway would encourage people to drive an otherwise walkable area.
“We’ve found over the years in the places where these pathways don’t exist, that people are forced to get in their car to travel a quarter mile to go visit a friend, and that adds to congestion,” Clegg said.
After hearing about potentially closing the path from both residents and the developer, Council Member Scot Ludwig asked Helmer if he would be willing to split the costs of maintaining the path equally. While Helmer initially pushed back at an equal 50/50 split, he said he would be willing to reach an agreement with the original Roxey Place neighborhood.
Other speakers went back and forth over the path, but Ludwig ultimately moved to deny the appeal, upholding the approval of the subdivision and leaving the path open.
“I think that connectivity is very important to this development,” he said.
He also proposed a set equal share of all costs to maintain the path. The motion was approved unanimously by the five council members in attendance.
The split will initially be between the developer and the Roxey Place neighborhood, but Ludwig said that after the apartments are built, it will be between the homeowners association for the single-family houses and the equivalent body for the apartments.