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Council approves West Ridge Townhomes development

A new housing development will break ground in Osceola soon after Osceola City Council unanimously approved the rezoning of Parcel K from R2 to R2 (PUD) at last week’s regular meeting.

PUD, or planned unit development, is defined in Chapter 166 of the Osceola city code as a designation to encourage imaginitive and efficient utilization of land by providing greater flexibility in location of buildings on land, consolidation of open spaces and clustering of units. Examples of PUDs in Osceola already include The Meadows and Arbor Valley.

According to Fred Dowie of Autumn Ridge Development, the development has been in the works for more than a year and a half.

The PUD will include duplex and single units totaling 39, ranging in size from 1,250-1,280 square feet on the small end to near 1,500 square feet on the larger end.

The first 13 units will be constructed along the existing road at Northwest View Drive, at which time Dowie estimated about 75 percent of all the grading for the total project will be done, including work to construct a live pond.

Dowie reported to the council that Osceola is the smallest community size-wise his group will have constructed these units in, but that the community has plenty to offer.

“Usually our cutoff is, we like to be between 12,000 and 25,000 as far as population. Indianola is about 16,000,” Dowie said. “But there’s a lot of unique features down here that we really like. The attitude is probably No. 1. It’s fantastic. You’ve got the casino, you’ve got expansion that’s going on here. You’ve got the extended care facility right next door.”

Dowie told the board that the soon-to-be-completed development in Indianola, identical to what is planned in Osceola, has attracted mostly families with someone in the nearby extended care facility, which allows family members to be close to their loved ones.

Another housing development in Osceola is a welcome addition, according to Mayor Thomas Kedley.

“You guys hit the nail on the head. Our population, Monday through Friday, doubles,” Kedley said. “We have more jobs than we have people. We’d like to retain those people and the answer to that is quality housing.”

Dowie said he hopes to break ground in mid-December, if the weather cooperates, with the first set of units to hopefully be completed by the end of 2019. He expects it to take about three years to sell all 39 of the units.

The PUD, which includes a private drive that will be built to city specs just in case it ever becomes a city road, also includes an option for expansion.

“It’s very exciting, but it’s also a little unnerving, because this is about half our minimum population we usually go into,” Dowie said. “But again, there’s a lot of good things down here.”

“You know we’re moving in the right direction if the governor of the state of Iowa calls your city administrator and I up to have a meeting about what’s going on in Osceola, ‘How are you guys getting these housing districts?’” Kedley said. “We’re doing it right.”

The council also unanimously waived the second and third readings, allowing Dowie’s team to start work on the development as soon as it gets the necessary approval from planning and zoning.

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