Controversial Prospect project moves one step closer to approval

Attorney Clifford Ashburner spoke on behalf of developer LDG Development. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Prospect city attorney Grover Potts Jr. said the city will continue to fight against a nearly 200-unit affordable senior housing development after the Louisville Metro Planning Commission unanimously approved a property rezoning and waiver needed for the proposed project to move forward.

“We will go to the Metro Council and express again our concerns with respect to the size and the mass of the property,” Potts Jr. said. “We don’t have a problem with affordable housing; that’s not the issue. It’s the fact that you’ve taking a four-story building that one side of it is over 500 feet long and putting it in a village. It simply is bad zoning, and it is something we will fight as long as we can.”

According to Potts Jr., more than 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing the project called Prospect Cove.

The project will have to go before Metro Council for final approval. Council also could ask the Planning Commission to reconsider its decision and request possible changes be made to the project.

Chris Dischinger, co-founder of Louisville-based LDG Development, said he and his team are excited the Planning Commission “made the right decision” to approve the company’s rezoning request.

LDG Development representatives said they altered the design of Prospect Cove to better fit the area. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The project has been highly controversial, with Prospect Mayor John Evans previously stating he would take legal action to stop the development.

Hundreds attended the Planning Commission meeting Tuesday night at Kentucky Country Day School. Some sported red T-shirts that stated “Vote No,” and the majority clapped when the opposition started making its case.

Planning commissioner Vince Jarboe had to instruct the crowd to quiet down several times after they erupted in applause or shouted jeers at those in favor of the development.

Before voting in favor of the rezoning, commissioner Lula Howard noted the majority of the people who spoke against Prospect Cove didn’t make any arguments related to why the project did not comply with the city’s land and zoning codes. The commission’s job is not to factor in the proximity of grocery stores or hospitals to a development, nor look at potential health impacts because of the project’s location near a gas stations. (The Air Pollution Control District already approved the plan.)

“I heard a lot of things that didn’t have to do with my duty,” Howard said. “I don’t understand what the problem is, but the zoning is appropriate.”

Prospect resident Roy Gibbons said the area doesn’t need a senior housing.

“By your own data, there are too many of us old folks out here already,” Gibbons said, then took a jab at the design: “A slum is a slum, by any other name is a slum. It is four stories high and looks like a federal prison.”

Another resident called the design “an atrocity” that did not fit into the Prospect area.

Those in opposition repeated that they aren’t against the project because it is affordable or because it is senior housing. “I’m not against senior housing; my mother is a senior,” said Prospect city councilman Stuart Miles.

The main concern, multiple speakers said, is how many people will be living in the development, which includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. Mayor Evans said he could agree with a development that is “less huge, less tall.”

Evans and Potts Jr. also repeated claims that as many as 752 people would live in the 198-unit apartment complex and that the majority of them would not be senior citizens, because anyone 17 and older can live in the development as long as he or she is living with at least one individual who is 55 or older.

National data shows that the majority of rental housing in Jefferson County has a single tenant. The average has two to three residents per unit. | Courtesy of Metropolitan Housing Coalition

Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, called out the mayor, saying his estimates of how many people will live in Prospect Cove isn’t based in fact.

“Let’s stop using terrorist math and stick to data,” Hinko said, citing U.S. Census Bureau data that shows most rental housing in Jefferson County is occupied by a single person. She added that more affordable housing for seniors is needed in Louisville.

LDG Development’s attorney Clifford Ashburner told the Planning Commission that a smaller but similar development in Jeffersontown averages 1.1 occupants per unit.

While the majority of residents spoke out against the development, a couple stood up in favor.

“When I first read about the project in The Courier-Journal, I went, ‘Great affordable housing for seniors,’” said Prospect resident Susan Miller. “I welcome the chance that senior citizens can live in and enjoy the beautiful community I have lived in for 15 years.”

Another resident said she wished the development was three stories rather than four, but overall, she liked it.