Corinne S Kennedy Memphis Commercial Appeal
Published 4:13 PM EDT May 17, 2019
Germantown’s long-awaited apartment moratorium study has been released, giving city officials and residents 355 pages of data and analysis to read on the impact multi-family and other types of housing have had on city services.
City staff presented portions of the report to the board of mayor and aldermen for the first time at a public work session Thursday. Here are five important things to know about the report.
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Who conducted the study and why?
The city placed a moratorium on the construction of all new apartment buildings in January 2018 after residents raised concerns that “apartments and apartment buildings, could result in disproportionate impacts on City resources and services (including water, utility, and sewer demands, traffic impacts, schools, public safety demands, etc.) compared to other forms of residential development,” according to the report.
Over the past 16 months, a group of 15 city staff members from the police, fire, public works, planning and economic development departments collected and analyzed data from the fire and police departments and Germantown Municipal School District.
No sweeping proclamations
The study does not definitively declare whether apartments or any other type of housing is good or bad or placing an outsized burden on the city’s schools and emergency services. City staff said the report compiled data about the current demand on city services from apartment dwellers that can be used to inform future decisions. That historical data was compared to other housing types — condos, single-family homes and assisted living facilities or nursing homes — for perspective.
It will be up to members of the board of mayor and aldermen — present and future — to determine how to use the data contained in the report to guide future growth in the city.
Not set in stone
The city staff group that worked on the study also developed a model, using the historical data from the police and fire departments and school district, showing how the demand on city services from all housing types could increase with future development. The group identified 60 properties across the city that theoretically could be developed for residential uses in the next 10 years based on current zoning maps and small area plans and created an “aggressive” build-out model to predict the potential impact that would arise from the construction of more than 2,000 apartments, assistant city administrator Jason Huisman said.
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He repeatedly said on Thursday the model was created to help illustrate the data and that the important thing was to look at indicators like the incident-to-crime-ratios and apply them to future projects that come through the city for approval.
“We’re not going to say, by any means, that what we’re presenting to you is going to happen,” Huisman said.
Formulas for the future
Huisman said the ratios developed by analyzing the years of previous data were an essential component of the study results. Based on the calls for police and fire services and the number of students enrolled in Germantown schools over the past five to 10 years, city staff built guides for how many calls for service and students come from each type of housing — apartments, condos, single-family houses and nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
In the future, when the city receives an application for a project that includes any residential component, city staff, planning commissioners, aldermen and others can use those ratios to determine how many additional public school students or calls for ambulances will likely come from the housing development on a daily or annual basis.
“The key takeaways here, in our opinion, are the ratios that have been established,” Huisman said Thursday. “And those ratios for home units can be applied to any development, no matter how many units, to be able to determine what’s the right number of units, if any at all.”
Mayor Mike Palazzolo has encouraged the city’s aldermen to read the report and schedule meetings with city staff members to further explore the data included in the study. No date has been set for the study to be discussed at a full board of mayor and aldermen meeting, but the mayor said the city would schedule another public work session in June.
The current moratorium on new multi-family housing projects will expire on July 8 if the board of mayor and aldermen does not take action before then.
Corinne Kennedy is a reporter for the Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @CorinneSKennedy
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