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Rezoning of Robins City Square to change look of Robins
by Sarah Olberding Editor · July 10th, 2017

Recently, the Planning and Zoning Commission in Robins opened a public hearing at its June 14, 2017, meeting to hear comments relating to the rezoning of all 5.4 acres of lots 3 and 4 at Robins City Square from a C-1 Central Business District to a Mixed Use Development and Planned Unit Development (PUD) District.

According to the meeting minutes, Geoff Franzenburg, developer at Compass Commercial Services, Inc., explained the plan to develop the area "the way it was originally intended, with businesses on the main floor and living quarters on floors two and three." He plans to build five buildings within the two lots; three will house 34 town houses with a garage on the main floor, a living room/kitchen on the second floor and bedrooms on the third floor. One building will offer 12,000 sq. ft. of commercial businesses with residential flats located on the second and third floors. Another building will be two stories of mixed use office suites.

Franzenburg said he planned to keep most of the trees, but will clean up the scrub growth.

Although the plan sounded appealing to some, the majority of residents in attendance voiced several concerns to the plan. The main issues are its deviating from the original plan of the two lots, loss of the small town feel of Robins, and loss in property values and privacy of the residents surrounding the area on Oak and Landau Streets. According to resident Judy Rohrssen, "It affects the whole look and feel of Robins."

According to the development map, 10 surrounding residential properties will be affected as well as four C-1 Commercial properties including Community Savings Bank, Iowa Eye Care, Lebowski's Bar & Grill, and Little Learners Preschool. One of the planned entrances will be combined with the Little Learners Preschool entrance on Robins Square Drive.

Rohrssen also brought forward 14 items of concern and impacts to the community of Robins with the proposed rezoning. They are as follows:

1. There are no three-story buildings in Robins, which would be a major change in character. The fire department does not have a ladder truck (estimated at $750,000) to serve it.

2. Buildings and Units are too concentrated. With this zoning change to approve 59 housing units packed onto 5.4 acres, it increases population density from three housing units per acre allowable from the 2013 Comprehensive Plan to 10.93, almost 11, per acre.

3. Concentrations of huge mature native trees (environmentally sensitive land as labeled in the 2013 Comprehensive Plan appendix) destroyed. This will negatively impact homes of bordering Landau and Oak Streets. Property values will be affected and habitats for wildlife would be lost.

4. Lack of privacy, noise concerns, traffic congestion, and lighting levels will adversely affect adjoining property owners.

5. Buildings and drives are too close to bordering homeowners. Inadequate screening is proposed. The current wooded area buffer for two- and three-story buildings is lost. This will adversely affect surrounding homeowners.

6. Lack of green space and recreational use areas. With the concentration of units and parking, little green space and no playground areas are included. Per the 2013 plan, both are to be ensured.

7. Drainage issues for the surrounding homeowners. Development lots adjoining with homeowner lots north and east are of major concern.

8. Increased strain on police and fire department services. Possibility of increased crime. What are the costs of safety impacts to the city and residents of the proposed project with rezoning approval?

9. Impact to water pressure and sewer for that concentration of usage to the surrounding areas. Has any assessment of that been done?

10. Not having a visual conception of the impact of the rezoning to the area. An onsite visit by Planning & Zoning and City Council with areas staked out should be achieved to have an idea of its impact.

11. What are the pricing points for condo purchases and rentals of apartment homes as they are already being promoted to be available in 2018?

12. Robins Square was designated for small commercial uses like doctors' offices, coffee shops, small retail, banks and restaurants. Conceptual drawings had development facing towards Robins Square Drive with woods left behind.

13. Homeowners purchased expensive homes with the expectation that any future development would be blended well with housing subdivisions.

14. Lack of comprehensive public understanding and knowledge of the project and its impact to the community. Few people are aware of the rezoning in the heart of Robins affecting its character and atmosphere. It will set a precedence and blueprint for further developments of this type.

Franzenburg and Compass held a neighborhood meeting to address the concerns and discuss the plan further on July 6, 2017. Concerned residents have started a group named "Save R Square" to educate other residents of the topic and to sign a petition to stop the development. Currently there are 94 signatures on the petition. To sign it, please visit

The next Planning & Zoning meeting will discuss the amendment of the Future Land Use and rezoning of the lots to a Mixed Use Development and PUD District on July 12, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. at Robins City Hall. Results of the amendment and rezoning were unknown at press time.
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