Residents of Rockwood Park subdivision oppose senior citizen housing development

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EUREKA, MO (KPLR) – A proposal to build affordable housing for senior citizens in Eureka meets with stiff opposition from nearby residents.

But the developer says he is not giving up.

Most of the opposition is coming from residents of the Rockwood Park subdivision, adjacent to the open land proposed to be used for the development, called Avonlea Senior Living Apartments.

'Our concerns primarily are about lowering property values,' said resident Mike Manion, whose home overlooks the land in question.

'I have talked to others in the subdivision and they feel there could be better use of that area,' Manion said.

The plans for Avonlea show two, three-story apartment buildings with 48 units for low income senior citizens.

The development would be built with tax credits available to build low income housing for seniors.

The developer is Phoenix Real Estate Services, which has an office in St. Charles, and has built similar projects in St. Charles, St. Peters and Wentzville, with no opposition according to the company.

But when the proposal came before the Eureka Planning and Zoning Commission last week, it was voted down eight to zero after a large number of residents showed up to speak in opposition to the plan.

'When there is a project or issue of that sort, the Board of Aldermen gives great weight to resident input and the recommendation of planning and zoning,' said Eureka Mayor Kevin Coffey, adding, 'It`s not by any means an absolute.'

Of the dozens who attended that planning commission meeting, only one person other than the developer spoke in favor of the project.

It was Mary Schaefer, the executive director of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging.

'There have been some isolated cases where people have been concerned because it is different than single family, but if you are going to pick a neighbor, a senior is probably about the best you are going to want to pick,' Schaefer said.

Avonlea developer Dan Barnard said he was shocked by the negative vote and is weighing his options but that he still hopes to save the project, and plans to make a presentation to the Board of Aldermen on March 1.

Barnard says the typical residents in these facilities are widows in their late 60s and early 70s, who are carefully screened.