Council members express reservations ahead of apartments vote

City Manager Mike Matthes, left, briefs the city council Tuesday as the Sixth Ward's Barbara Hoppe looks on. Hoppe expressed grave concerns about two proposed student apartment buildings.

At least two city council members told KRCG 13 Tuesday they had grave concerns about proposed student apartment buildings.

Sixth Ward councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she thought proposals by Opus Development Company and American Campus Communities were moving through the approval process too quickly.

â??I think we need to take a lot more careful look at what the cost is for the sewer and the water and electricity for this new development,â?? she said.

Hoppeâ??s remarks come a day after a city council meeting at which residents decried the councilâ??s handling of proposals for three different student apartment buildings in light of major infrastructure shortcomings. All three proposals had to go through the council for final approval because they involve major sewer system changes. Opus, ACC and Collegiate Housing Partners have all agreed to cover some or all of the costs for replacing the sewers around those projects if they move forward. Residents zeroed in on the councilâ??s decision to introduce the legislation approving the projects at a special meeting six days ago and hold a final vote at another special meeting on Wednesday, accusing the body of rushing through the process to appease the developers. Most city legislation is introduced and voted on at separate city council meetings two weeks apart.

Most of the speakers at Monday nightâ??s meeting said they could live with CHPâ??s proposal for a 351-bed apartment building at Fifth and Conley, across from MUâ??s Mark Twain residence hall, but disliked the other two proposals. Opusâ?? plan envisions a 250-bed building on Locust Street across from the Psychology Building, while ACC has proposed a 718-bed structure on Fourth Street, next to CHPâ??s project. ACC still needs zoning approval for its project. Moreover, the developer discovered last week the city does not have anywhere near the electrical capacity to meet the buildingâ??s needs. City Manager Mike Matthes said Monday night city staff would recommend a â??noâ?? vote on ACCâ??s proposal for that reason, and Mayor Bob McDavid told KRCG 13 Tuesday the council would probably have to follow that recommendation.

McDavid said he disagreed with accusations that the council was rushing through the approval process.

â??Each proposal has gone through the appropriate process for land use. They go through Planning & Zoning, they go through City Council,â?? he said, noting even ACCâ??s proposal has been in the works for about a year.

McDavid said he would support the Opus and CHP projects because he felt both developers have met all of the cityâ??s wishes including sewer renovation fees. Hoppe did not indicate she would favor Opusâ?? proposal, a position similar to Fourth Ward councilman Ian Thomasâ?? remarks on Monday night.