It took nearly four hours to reach the final vote, but Jefferson City's Planning and Zoning Commission ultimately endorsed a proposed subdivision plan for the Missouri River bluffs just east of Hayselton Drive.
It took five separate votes to approve developer Dick Otke's proposal to build 14 single-family homes along a new street, River Bluff Court, with an intersection with Hayselton Drive as the only access.
The multiple votes were needed because the proposal actually combines two property owners into one development.
The requests to rezone 4.3 acres from RS-3 Single Family to Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning, then approve the subdivision project on 10.86 acres, were the only issue on the commission's agenda.
Commissioners voted 6-2 to endorse the rezoning request, and 7-1 to approve the preliminary subdivision plan.
One of the votes, to cancel the previous PUD zoning for a previous condominiums project, was approved unanimously.
More than 70 neighborhood residents attended the meeting, with 21 of them speaking for a total of 90 minutes, giving commissioners various reasons to oppose the plan.
Their biggest concerns focused on the street going into the project, which is to meet Hayselton on a tight, hairpin curve that residents said would be unsafe.
Right now, a driveway connects Hayselton to Paul and Rayma Chinn's home on the bluffs, which would become one of the 15 homes in the subdivision.
But that driveway would have to almost double in size to carry the subdivision traffic.
Mark Pauley owns 1606 Hayselton, on the river side of that proposed street.
"I do not want a street close to my living space - it is a safety hazard and an invasion of my personal property," he said. "There is not enough land to turn an existing driveway into a street."
In 2005, both the commission and City Council approved Otke's proposal to build "up to 50" condominium units in two buildings on the same site, using a long, private driveway from West Main Street as access to the condos.
Otke told commissioners Thursday: "After getting a topographical survey, we determined that it's a very, very, very rough piece of ground.
"The ground where the creek is drops almost 120 feet from West Main Street."
Although it would cost more than $660,000 to build that driveway, he said they pursued the condominium plan - but sold only five units before the bottom fell out of the economy.
A second plan, using two-unit town homes and access from West Main was considered and abandoned, explained Mike Bates, a consultant with Central Missouri Professional Services.
"We truly were not able to come up with a plan, due to the configuration of the site and the steepness of the terrain," he said.
The subdivision proposal was seen as a better alternative and access from Hayselton Drive much more feasible.
But Joe Bednar, 1602 Hayselton Dr., just south of the proposed street, urged the commission to reject the plan.
"I understand that the proponents made a bad investment decision," he said. "But I don't want for me and my economic condition to change and be harmed because of their investment decisions."
Several residents said they could support the plan if Otke returned to using an access off West Main.
But the city's staff said the proposal meets the zoning criteria - and noted the existing city codes would allow up to 25 homes in the space where Otke proposed only 15.
The City Council will hear the proposal at its Jan. 18, 2011, meeting.
Second Ward councilman Jim Penfold, who lives in the neighborhood, noted the commissioners "tend to take a look more at the technical and the regulatory issues," he said. "The City Council will look at the code issues ... but they also take into account the appropriateness of the proposal (and), also, what the adjoining neighbors believe and feel will happen."