HUDSON — Residents at a recent forum shared mixed opinions about Downtown Phase II, with a slightly higher number of people expressing opposition to the project.
About 40-50 people attended council’s second listening session on the project in the Hudson High School Media Center on Nov. 27, and they offered a variety of opinions.
Some people who spoke in opposition requested that council ask voters to express their views through a ballot issue. Concerns were shared about traffic volume and how the city’s sewer systems would handle the new development. Others questioned the need for the project and encouraged council to consider a scaled back version. Those backing the project said it would provide housing for emptynesters who want to downsize, but remain in the city.
Resident Tom Hudson asked council to compare the projected traffic volume of the project with a scaled back plan offered by residents that would construct 50 residential units, a smaller commercial area and a parking lot.
Hudson also asked council how the city’s “traffic problem — which is already significant — [will] be addressed after the construction of the current Phase II?”
Resident Sarah Norman told council that she believed commercial development brought to the city must be “need driven,” and added she felt officials must use a “thoughtful process” to determine the project’s direction.
Todd Zedak said he believed a majority of residents do not want “business development and housing development based on the needs of a developer.”
Noting that the size of the development has dropped from 1.2 million square feet to 400,000 square feet, Zedak said that nothing has been reported on what the anticipated revenues will be generated by the scaled back development.
Zedak said he did not believe there is a need to have business offices downtown.
“We don’t need to go fast,” said Zedak. “The buildings that go up are there for a damn long time.”
Susan McCutcheon questioned the need for the project and noted there were more than 150 homes and more than 60 office spaces for sale in the city.
“If the city leadership is so convinced that my views are in the minority, then why is there such resistance to putting Phase II on the ballot?” asked McCutcheon. “I urge the leadership of our city to serve the members of our community and put Phase II to on the ballot.”
Jessie Obert asked about how sewer issues will be addressed, and said the city has traffic problems and the amount of traffic will increase with additional development.
“I don’t understand why you’re not just putting this to [a citizens’] vote, other than the fact that it delays putting shovels in the ground,” said Obert. “Why? If it’s a great project and it’s as 50-50 as some people feel that it is, then it should get the votes you want.”
People who spoke in favor of the project said they felt it would provide housing for emptynesters looking to downsize.
Jack Brookhart said he and his wife want to remain in Hudson, but are looking to move into a smaller home. Downtown Phase II would offer smaller housing within walking distance of downtown, according to Brookhart. He noted he and his wife have spent a long time searching for around the country for the ideal place to retire.
“We kept saying to each other, ‘if only we could pick up Hudson and put it down here,” said Brookhart. “Clearly we need more housing [in Hudson] for people like us.”
Drew Forhan, who recently brought his business back to the city, said he likes the combination of business and residential development planned in Phase II. He noted he knows a lot of people who “downsized out of Hudson” when they couldn’t find a home to meet their needs.
“They really didn’t want to [leave] Hudson,” said Forhan.
Laura Gasbarro said she and her husband are emptynesters who want to find a smaller home to remain in the city.
“Millenials aren’t moving here,” said Gasbarro. “The housing that has to go down there is for people like me, people that want to downsize and stay and support the community.”
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.