Housing plans OK’d for local subdivision

House 1 as drawn by Roots Deign and Development.

The Huntsville Planning Commission last week approved site plans for the construction of three houses in the Cedar Bluff subdivision.

The commission’s ad-hoc group, which meets each Wednesday, approved the site plans, then telephoned other commission members for their votes.

All commissioners approved the site plan except Bryanna Watkins, who gave no response.

The houses will be built between Cotton and Worley streets near the front of the subdivision. Hunt Ventures owns approximately 35 acres in Cedar Bluff, divided into 138 lots.

Huntsville’s Planning Director Jennifer Thomas said the three homes will be “affordable houses,” to be built by Gil Bryant Construction Co. in Huntsville. The three houses will be built north of the Huntsville Senior Apartments near the front of the subdivision.

The Community Development Corp. of Bentonville “applied for a state-funded 80/20 affordable housing program and partnered with several agencies to make this happen,” Thomas said in an email.

The housing development is a cooperative of the CDC, Hunt Ventures and Sage Partners in Rogers.

Casey Kleinhenz, executive director of the CDC, said the houses will cost $144,000.

“The outside message is that the homes are for sale. The sale prices start at $144,000, but if there’s a household that’s only pre-approved at say $119,00, then we have a payment plan that helps them buy it,” Kleinhenz said.

“We want everyone interested in a great new house to contact us. We are starting with a couple of our best floor plans. There is room for buyers to bring custom plans too,” Kleinhenz said in an email.

Kleinhenz said by telephone that potential home buyers will still need to go through a lending agency or bank.

“I can’t change the process for buying a house. We’ve just got the ability ... we can make it more affordable,” he said.

“It’s still a standard home-buying process. People need to come pre-approved. Then at that point, folks may be surprised that they’d be able to afford the house. We can help them afford it. There can be some funding we can fit in.”

Kleinhenz said the CDC and others worked together on the project.

“This is through the generosity of Sage Partners [in Rogers] and JB Hunt, LLC [Hunt Ventures]. They’re making this happen as well,” he said.

Kleinhenz said the CDC primarily works with rental properties in Benton County. He said the Huntsville houses will be the first home-buyer project the CDC has done “in a while.”

Thomas said the CDC “has hired local contractors to do the work to help keep money local. The potential home owner(s) will apply for the loan and if qualified would only have to repay 80% of the value of the home.”

Thomas said there were many “working parts” in getting to the site plan stage.

“The proposed homes would be built inside the Cedar Bluff subdivision (2 separate house plans each approx 1,200 square feet in size)  construction by [Gil] Bryant Construction. The construction company requested the Planning Commission expedite the request to an email/voice vote,” Thomas wrote in an email message.

The subdivision is located just off Highway 23, across the highway from the Expelled haunted house.

Thomas said the effort to get houses built in Cedar Bluff has involved many people.

“This project started back in early 2018 with the help of Alice Jackson, who made the initial contact for the Planning Commission. This project has the capacity to continue to expand as many times as the state program, and the land owners, will allow,” Thomas wrote.

Water and sewer are in place in the subdivision, though in some locations other than where the first three houses will be built, repairs to the services and roads would be needed.

Thomas said Kleinhenz with the CDC group is “very engaged in helping Huntsville grow with this affordable housing project and possibly others,” she wrote. Thomas said “others” could apply to such dwellings as apartments or duplexes in the future.

Thomas said  Gil Bryant Construction could build more houses in the future at Cedar Bluff.

“It depends on how it goes. They have the ability to do lots, pun intended,” she said.

“They have the capability to do 80,” she guessed.

In another development, Thomas said the ad-hoc group approved a site plan for a duplex to be built by Terry Presley in the Highland Park Subdivision.

Thomas said the four commissioners voted to approve the plan, with two providing no answers.

Presley’s duplex will be Lot 1 of Phase 1 in the subdivision, which is being built between Pecan and Missouri streets.

For details of the planning commission, visit https://huntsvillearkansas.org/zoningandbuilding.

For more on the CDC, visit cdcbentonville.com.

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