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The developer behind the Lakes at Franklin Mills in Kent is moving forward with a plan to add nine houses to the development, while city officials are looking for ways to make one of its entrances safer.
Kent Planning Commission unanimously approved Robert Heimann's proposal to develop an 8-acre tract bounded by Fairchild Avenue, Roy Marsh Drive and Stonewater Drive into nine single family homes this week. In approving the plan, the second step in a subdivision process that began last month, the Planning Commission made several recommendations to Heimann and the city's administration.
Planning Commissioner Peter Paino said both Heimann and the city needed to look at ways to make the intersection at Fairchild Avenue and Stonewater Drive safer. He said the landscaped island and hill at the development's entrance can make navigating the intersection "a scary situation at times."
"I really think, under the circumstances, that landscape island ... needs to be redone, and that hill needs to be shaved," Paino said.
Heimann said he would look at the possibility of shaving the hill, located on the intersection's southwest corner, although a utility lines running through the area could complicate matters.
"I think (the hill) could probably be shaved down ... and make a big difference," he said.
Paino also took issue with the curved driveways originally planned for the nine lots, which he said unnecessarily complicated driving and parking in the development.
"Curved driveways are not good planning," he said. "That doesn't help anything."
Heimann said he originally liked the aesthetics of the curved driveways, but agreed straight driveways would be preferable in this case.
The Planning Commission approved the development plan, under the conditions that the city's administration studies the Fairchild Avenue and Stonewater Drive intersection, along with any potential problems caused by delivery vehicles stopping next to the islands at the entryway and restricting traffic flow.
The subdivision will now go through the city's technical review process before the final plat comes before the Planning Commission for approval.
Heimann said he wants to build as high quality homes as possible on the lots in order to sell them in current economic conditions. He said he originally planned to develop a commercial and community building on the 8-acre lot, but the economic collapse and return of retail businesses to downtown Kent made him reconsider and opt for a plan to build nine houses.
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