CORRECTED: Developers seek rezoning for Dubuque’s 1st gated community

CORRECTED: A photo used with an earlier version of this story did not show the correct location of the proposed gated community, which will be located north of Sickle Lane.

A developer seeks to construct a gated community for older adults on the northwest edge of Dubuque.

Ewing Properties plans to develop 35 single-family homes on a 14-acre plot near the intersection of John F. Kennedy and Derby Grange roads. The homes would function as a cooperative community for residents ages 55 and older with private streets, a clubhouse and a parking lot.

“This really is an asset to everybody,” said Heather Ropp, a regional director for Ewing Properties, which has an office in Dubuque. “It’s going to be a beautiful community. It will be very well built.”

Dubuque City Council members this week unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the property from single-family residential to planned unit development with a planned residential designation. However, they opted not to waive additional readings of the ordinance to give the developer time to communicate with area residents who have expressed concerns.

“I think this is a very interesting topic to our citizens,” Council Member David Resnick said. “They want to see what’s going on in their city, so I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks, we’ll have that all ironed out, and then, we could have even more public buy-in.”

If approved, The Estates of Dubuque would be located adjacent to the Rustic Point Estates subdivision. The cooperative community would feature 35 homes ranging in size from 1,400 to 2,000 square feet.

All of the homes would be located on a single lot, and people who move in would purchase a share in the community for $215,000 to $305,000. Residents also pay a monthly fee toward a master mortgage, property taxes, insurance and professional management that includes indoor and outdoor maintenance and vacation services.

“This is really maintenance-free, worry-free, stress-free living,” Ropp said. “It’s really ideal for people that want to downsize or get out of a home that’s got maintenance.”

Council documents state that the primary entrance to the development on Lasso Court and the emergency secondary access on Barnwood Lane would be gated. Wally Wernimont, planning services manager for the city, noted that there will not be a fence around the property, but rather, the perimeter would be landscaped with trees and bushes.

The Estates would be Dubuque’s first gated community, as well as the first cooperative community of its kind in the city, Wernimont said.

He noted the development fits in with the city’s comprehensive plan, which seeks to offer a range of housing options in Dubuque.

“As the baby boomers are retiring, we’re seeing more and more senior housing get developed through our community, and this provides an opportunity for individuals 55 and older,” Wernimont said.

While council members generally expressed support for the project, they opted to only approve the first reading after some area residents raised concerns about the project. A motion to waive additional readings on the ordinance failed, 4-3, with Council Members Susan Farber, Laura Roussell and David Resnick dissenting. The motion needed six “yes” votes to pass.

Council documents note that several residents oppose the project, citing concerns about “loss of green space, property value impact, density and potential lack of stormwater management” and questioning how the management of the community would be structured.

Reached by the Telegraph Herald, however, some residents who opposed the project said they have since changed their minds after learning more about it.

Leon Metz, who lives near the planned development, said he first was under the impression that it would contain apartment units and registered his concerns with the city. After learning that was not the case, he gave the project his blessing.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything negative to my piece of property or to my neighbors,” he said.

Wernimont noted that the property was annexed into the city in 2017 and was proposed to be a 34-lot single-family home development. The Estates would have just one additional home, with more green space and fewer traffic impacts than the original proposal.

Ropp said public information meetings on the development are planned for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday, July 29, at Dubuque Golf & Country Club. The rezoning will go back to the council for a second reading on Aug. 2.

Council Member Danny Sprank, who voted in favor of waiving additional readings on the ordinance to approve the rezoning, said he supports plans for the development.

“It gives folks in that age demographic more options,” he said.