Zoning update discriminates against low-income seniors who can’t afford a home on a golf course, says former council member

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

A former Bowling Green City Council member has questioned the purpose and potential impact of the zoning code update being considered by city officials.

“I personally think it’s discrimination against old people and low income people who can’t afford the big houses, the golf courses on the west side, who are told it’s not not nice, you can just walk down the street for takeout or other business,” Joyce Kepke said. “If it’s nice, why isn’t there residential activity all over town, not just in the older parts of town?

Kepke, who served on city council in the 1980s, expressed concern Monday night as the zoning code update made its way to council’s consideration.

Its main concern is the creation of a “residential pedestrian” zoning that extends from Poe Roads to Napoleon Roads on both sides of Main Street. The new zoning category allows some small businesses to locate in residential neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods affected include large historic homes and small, modest homes.

“These are the homes of many of our older residents and members of our community who cannot afford homes on the golf course or in the residential areas west of town,” said Kepke. “When these homes were purchased, the people who live there now believed they were buying in residential neighborhoods and that our zoning laws protected their neighborhoods.”

“Now you’re proposing to remove that protection,” she said.

Kepke wondered what kind of businesses will be allowed – a news story, a law firm, an IT company, a beauty salon, a neighborhood grocery store?

She questioned the rationale for removing housing protections at a time when the city is experiencing a housing shortage for low- and middle-income people.

“Our economic development officials told us that,” Kepke said. “A new owner or a first owner already has difficulty finding a house to buy. And now you are creating a neighborhood that is no longer protected as a residential area. A new owner – and owners who have lived in this neighborhood for years – can suddenly find themselves with a business next door.

Kepke acknowledged that some businesses, such as a dry cleaner and take-out, already exist in residential areas. But people who moved into homes near these businesses knew about them before they bought their homes.

“And when you go to sell your beautiful neighborhood residence, your property is now next to a business,” she said, predicting that property values ​​will go down. “You can’t tell me someone looking for a new home will find that desirable.”

Kepke asked the city council to consider the proposed zoning updates and how they fit into the mission of a zoning code.

“I believe a big part of the mission of a zoning code is to give new homeowners and long-term homeowners the assurance that the city will protect the value of their properties” no matter where in town they live. , she said.

“Who asked for this change? I’m sure it’s not the people who have homes in that area,” Kepke said. “I submit to you that the company you hired to redo the zoning code does not live in Bowling Green, does not understand the difficulties of protecting property values ​​in a college town, and it is your job to make sure that what they proposed really corresponds to our community.

Bob McOmber, chairman of the planning commission and also a former member of city council, said the proposed “residential pedestrian” zoning radiates out from the downtown business district. It may be extended further into the city, but it is initially a “logical transition” to neighborhoods adjacent to Main Street.

“It could be modified and extended later if it works well,” McOmber said after Monday’s special meeting on the zoning code update.

City Council will continue to review the changes recommended by the Planning Commission.

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