Concerns over proposed development surrounding Orange Elementary - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Concerns over proposed development surrounding Orange Elementary

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A divide over an area development is pitting neighbors against the long-time landowner. 

The landowner, Hope M. Anderson, better known as Buzz, is asking the city to rezone farmland surrounding Waterloo's Orange Elementary for residential use.

If passed, Anderson plans to develop the 129.16 acres into a large housing development with up to 210 homes.

Anderson's family has owned the farmland south of town for three generations. 

After the sale of a portion of the land to Waterloo Schools for the new Orange Elementary, many believe it's an ideal spot for a housing development.

"Somewhat of an understanding, but a desire by many people in the city that were on the school board and involved in the city," said Anderson. "I am not going to name names, but they wanted to see this; not for me, but for the City of Waterloo. We want to get Waterloo going. You hear about Cedar Falls and all the development around it. I think this is a perfect spot for a class development."

But many who live in the Orange area have some concerns about the large development, including water pressure and storm run-off. But their biggest concern is current and future traffic issues in the area.

"On September 13, 2013, that was my aunt that was killed at Kimball and Shaulis, right on our north property line. Negligent or not, it was the city who did not properly plan and prevent what happened that day," said Monique Walters, whose family owns farmland across the road from Anderson.

There are also already traffic concerns at the nearby school. During drop-off and pick-up times, cars back up through the elementary driveway and continue to line-up on the residential street on the other side of Kimball Avenue.

"Just so busy and nobody pays attention or slows down," said Destinee Grimes, who has a kindergartner at Orange Elementary.

But the city has required a traffic study be completed before the plans for the 210-home development are finalized.

Other concerns include the loss of farmland which is said to have soil quality above the Iowa average, which is high to begin with.

"We are taking the best-rated agricultural land in Iowa and developing it for the sole purpose of creating a larger tax base. This is concerning," said Walters.

"You can't have your cake and eat it too. Yes, it is good farmland, but if Waterloo is going to grow, this is a great area to grow," said Anderson.

The city council did approve a first reading of the rezoning of the land from agricultural to residential, but the zoning will have to come back to council for two more votes before it is official.

Anderson would like to break ground before the end of the year. But that is contingent on reviews of the plans being approved by the council, as well as a completed traffic study that may require changes to the area before building can begin.

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