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Mon, Sept. 23

Group works to keep D-H rural: Committee begins process to block Young's Farm rezoning

DEWEY-HUMBOLDT - A local group has started a referendum drive to block the Dewey-Humboldt Town Council's recent commercial rezoning of a 28-acre portion of the former Young's Farm.

Town Clerk Debbie Gifford said that the "Committee to Keep Dewey-Humboldt Rural" filed paperwork Monday afternoon for a possible referendum on the council's July 17 vote to rezone the land at the southeast corner of highways 69 and 169.

The committee needs to get at least 83 signatures from Dewey-Humboldt registered voters in the next month to get the referendum on the March 2008 ballot.

Gifford said the committee has until 5 p.m. Aug. 22 to return the signed petitions to Town Hall.

The "Committee to Keep Dewey-Humboldt Rural" would have to receive at least 50 percent-plus one of the votes in the referendum election to overturn the rezone. If the referendum goes through, Monogram - the developer - must come back to the council with another rezoning proposal.

D-H resident Jack Hamilton, the chairman of the referendum committee, said volunteers will begin circulating petitions early next week in the town's neighborhoods.

Monogram partner Don Allison said Wednesday he expected the petition drive to succeed.

But he said Monogram will continue to work on the project - the Village Marketplace - albeit at a slower pace because of the new risk involved.

"We've got solid community support for the project," Allison said. "We've got over 400 support letters and more coming in every day. The community has spoken loud and clear. They want this project. They want to enhance their quality of life and that for their kids and their kids' kids."

Despite a 4-3 approval from the council July 17, Monogram got its wish to change the C2-4 (commercial) and R1-70 (residential) zoning originally on the parcel to strictly C-2, or general commercial zoning.

With a switch to C-2 zoning, Monogram may build retail stores and businesses, and as many as 50 residential units, for its mixed-use Village Marketplace.

Hamilton said a commercial development of this size along the southeast corner of highways 69 and 169 would cause too much traffic congestion, noise and pollution. He added that he thinks Monogram eventually will sell the 28-acre parcel to a large commercial developer because Monogram is strictly a homebuilder.

But Allison said Monogram does not plan to sell the property and will not develop the site with big-box retail stores.

Monogram's Village Marketplace would cluster buildings and create opportunities for boutique-type businesses and smaller shops, as well as a hometown grocery store and farmers' market, to sell their wares.

Allison said Monogram will include a public park with walking trails in the marketplace's design, in addition to an area with antique farm implements that helps preserve Young's Farm's legacy.

"From Day 1, it's never been our intention to sell the property," Allison said. "Yes, we are a residential home builder. We're a land developer also. Relative to the commercial aspect, it's our intent to develop that. We'll bring in and partner with a commercial developer that is specifically their expertise. Our intent is to be the master developer of the

whole project."

Dewey-Humboldt Mayor Earl Goodwin said this past week that even if Monogram sold the property, the town's development agreement with Monogram applies to any and all other developers who might become involved in the project.

The agreement allows the town a say in the parcel's development, no matter who does the work, Goodwin added.

At its Aug. 7 meeting, the council will vote on a separate rezoning ordinance for Monogram's 286-acre residential piece, called "The Village at Young's Farm," that sits adjacent to the commercial parcel.

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