Plans to create a new cottage neighborhood in south Allentown took another step forward Wednesday night, when City Council unanimously approved a zoning change to allow the project.
Council also unanimously approved a $60,000 upgrade of the driving range at the city’s Municipal Golf Course.
And it scheduled a committee meeting next week to discuss the planned removal of two dams in Lehigh Parkway.
It formally approved a grant removing the Jordan Creek dam in Jordan Park, although that dam already is gone.
And it made changes to its ordinance regulating street and sidewalk vendors operating anywhere in the city, with no objections from any vendors.
Up to 49 cottage homes are proposed on nearly six acres at South Sixth and West Cumberland streets, where both streets end at the hilltop site of the former Montex textile mill, which was destroyed in a fire.
It will be the first residential development of its kind in the Lehigh Valley, according to the developers.
The average size of the homes will be 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and they will attract “first-time home buyers and empty nesters,” said Richard Kontir, one of the principals of Cottage Communities LP, the developer.
Kontir told council “the very affordable” homes will sell from the low $100,000-to-low- $200,000 price range. They will have no more than three bedrooms, but those third bedrooms will be very small and marketed as home office space.
Atty. Jack Gross, who represented the developers, told council neighbors strongly support the project.
Only one member of the public spoke at a public hearing on the zoning changes just before council’s regular meeting began.
Edward Roth, who lives next to the development site in the 1100 block of S. 7th St., told council: “I’m delighted with what’s being proposed here. I think it’s a great idea.”
Council unanimously amended the zoning ordinance to change zoning on that site from Business/Light Industrial and Medium High Density Residential to Medium Density Residential.
Council also incorporated a definition for a “pocket neighborhood development” into the zoning ordinance.
The next step will be for the city planning commission to review and ultimately approval a land development plan for the homes, said Kontir.
He could not predict when the project will go before the planning commission.
But he hopes to have all approvals by early 2014 so construction can begin next spring.
He said at least some of the homes should be completed, sold and occupied next year. But he added it’s not yet been determined if the homes will be built in phases.
Golf driving range
The city’s golf driving range will remain open while the $60,000 worth of improvements are made, said Rick Holtzman, the city’s parks superintendent. He predicted that work will be completed by October.
Now the “tee line” of that range has individual tee-off mats, which are about 6 feet wide and set on top of loose screened stone, said Holtzman. “It’s pretty dirty. It works. But it’s not the greatest thing in the world.”
Those mats are like “an outdoor carpet that has seen its day.” Holtzman said they must be replaced every two or three years.
The worn mats will be replaced with heavy-duty artificial turf that is more than one inch thick and dense enough to hold a golf tee.
“It’s probably the best turf on the market for this application,” said Holtzman.
That turf will be laid in a strip 12 feet wide and 240 feet long. It will be glued to the top of a new concrete slab that will replace the stone.