Neighbors are worried about giving free rein to KSU housing complex developers

The location of the proposed Intergenerational Village in Kent. Kent State University image

Residents of Chadwick Drive in Kent pleaded with city council members on Wednesday to become more engaged in the planning of a proposed 1,000-resident housing development that Kent State plans to build on the site of the former Allerton apartment complex.

Residents John Thomas, Eric Nichols and Wendy Yuzik expressed concerns that a private developer will not be responsive to neighborhood issues without stronger public accountability. Their comments are among the most critical voices regarding a project that has so far been favorably received among nearby residents. 

At least one council member should be involved in all plans for the so-called Intergenerational Village so that the city doesn’t find itself “on a runaway train,” Thomas said.

Nichols echoed Thomas’s concerns and added that the project seems like a for-profit scheme in which a private developer will have free reign on public land. 

He asked council to ensure that the complex will be subject to all zoning and building codes, and expressed concern that such a large housing complex will put a strain on Kent’s water, police and fire resources. 

Referencing an ongoing matter involving Kent entrepreneur Mike Beder’s storefront colors, Nichols said it was “laughable” that city officials would focus on that instead of what he called a more important issue.

Yuzik cited increased traffic, lighting and environmental impacts, particularly to the wetland ecosystem to the south of the proposed development. She said she asked Kent State officials who are spearheading the project what would happen to that area and was told it would be up to the developer. That, she said, was not a good enough answer, and she repeated her neighbors’ pleas for council to get involved.

In answer, City Manager Dave Ruller said he and Community Development Director Bridget Susel have been invited to concept meetings. Council Member Roger Sidoti went one further, saying he would be willing to put Intergenerational Village involvement on his to-do list.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.