Tecumseh Council Approves Housing Addition
July 9, 2020
By this time next year, Tecumseh could see 17 new homes built across from the high school, thanks to city approval during Monday's regular meeting of the Tecumseh City Council. City officials also approved three other property changes, one of which drew protest.
Mayor Eddy Parker said it is unusual to have so many property items on one city council agenda.
"Because of the pandemic, the boards couldn't meet and they all hit at once," he said.
"I can't ever remember having this many."
The preliminary plat for a new housing addition, Sharwood Estates, was unanimously approved, on the condition that concrete or asphalt roads, along with electric and water services, be completed throughout the 35 acres before construction begins on the homes.
Owner and developer John Woods of Heartland Acres is the grandson of Elmo Woods, who currently lives on the property at 802 N. 13th in Tecumseh. Woods said the project is a family one, with his cousins serving as his partners and the name "Sharwood" referencing his aunts Sherry and Sharon, combined with the Woods family name.
Each home will sit on two acres with a minimum square footage of 1,400 to 1,600, with an estimated starting cost around $160,000-$200,000. The homes will tie into city water and gas with aerobics or septic for sewage.
"I'm excited to see you consider building something like this - a housing addition that's got some really nice homes on it," Mayor Eddy Parker said.
Woods said that is his plan.
"My family has been there forever and I'm putting my name on it - it's my dad and my grandpa - so I want to make sure it's something we're all proud of," he said.
With the preliminary plats now approved, Woods is hopeful he can get all the engineering work done and approved around the end of the year to be able to begin working on the streets and then see homes possibly going up next spring.
201 S. Rangeline
A rezoning request for 201 S. Rangeline drew one protester and a bit of hesitancy from a council member. For full transparency, officials stated at the beginning of discussions that the property is owned by Ward III council member Linda Praytor. Current and proposed use of the property is residential.
Walter Rose said the Tecumseh Planning Commission looked over the request to rezone the property from R-1 (Residential) to A-1 (Agriculture) and said the property had originally been zoned A-1 years before. Praytor told city officials it had to be changed from A-1 to R-1 for weddings at that time and the reason for her current request is because "I can't get a clear title until proper zoning."
The Planning Commission acknowledged the written protest but recommended approving the request.
The written protest was submitted by Carole Pool, who wrote that she and her husband own the rental property at 704 E. Washington, which backs up to Praytor's land. Pool's letter states that Praytor's property is surrounded by residential property and has had horses and chickens on it in the past, and asked for the rezoning to be denied.
"She has let the weeds grow to be a nuisance and the fly problem was bad," Pool's letter states. "I see no reason to change the zoning on this property. It would open it up to any number of problems for the surrounding residents."
Sharon Stewart, Ward II council member, said she read the report and has been to Praytor's home "many, many times" and has never seen what is described in the letter. Stewart said her own property is also five acres and as a result is properly zoned as A-1.
Praytor asked City Attorney Michael Warwick if anything over five acres is supposed to be zoned A-1 and he confirmed that to be the case. Later in the meeting it was stated to be a requirement by the city.
John Collier, Ward IV council member, said "I get real antsy when we start changing designations for property."
He asked Praytor about not being able to get a title.
"Let me explain," she said. "I bought that property in 1998 and it was A-1. In about 2005, I started doing weddings over there and had bed and breakfast, and I came to the mayor and city manager and they told me I needed to change the zoning to R-1, which I did.
"Now I found out from trying to get my trust in order I cannot sell my property or pass onto my heirs unless I am considered an A-1 zoning. I cannot get a clear title because I have acquired more than five acres - I have close to six acres. And the city code says if you have over five acres you have to be an A-1 so that's why the title company says I'm zoned improperly and I can't get my affairs in order.
"That's the only reason I'm asking to do this," Praytor added. "I'm not going to have a sale barn or build anything."
All voted to approve the rezoning with the exception of Praytor, who abstained from the vote.
402 W. Highland
Next, city officials heard from Nick Atwood, who spoke as a representative of the property at 402 W. Highland, Sanders Laboratories, for a rezoning request from an R-2 (Residential) to C-3 (Commercial) designation.
"Historically this property has been used commercially as you all know and we're just trying to get our affairs in order in case we want to do something with the property," Atwood said. "The use of the property is not changing."
Praytor said many properties around Tecumseh are zoned incorrectly.
Collier asked for clarification about the business operating at a residentially zoned location for years. He said, "So it's been operating illegally."
The room filled with laughter. Warwick said it had been grandfathered in. Stokes said, "70 something years."
Collier quipped to more laughter, "Has someone not been minding the store?"
Stewart said the council is likely to encounter more zoning issues in the future.
With a motion to approve, all voted in favor with quick responses to a roll-call vote, with the exception of Collier who paused in complete silence for several seconds before softly saying, "Yes."
A hardship conditional use permit was granted to place a mobile home at 20096 Harrison in addition to the existing residence. Property owner Shirley Abernathy requested the permit for a new manufactured home to be placed on the property for her granddaughter to live in while caring for Ms. Abernathy.
Brittany Abernathy told the council she currently lives in Shawnee, but works full-time at Tinker and is also going to school full-time - in addition to helping her grandmother. A move to her grandmother's property in Tecumseh will help her be able to continue with Ms. Abernathy's care.
Since the 2-acre property is technically too small for two homes, Brittany Abernathy assured city officials that once the condition of the hardship ends, one of the homes will be removed.
All voted in favor of granting the permit. After the vote, Collier said, "Thank you for caring for her."
The next regular meeting of the council is scheduled for 6 pm Monday, Aug. 3, at Tecumseh City Hall.