Overton Gateway project gets 'NO' vote from Land Use Control Board

(Source: Makowsky Ringel and Greenberg)
(Source: Makowsky Ringel and Greenberg)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Midtown residents were more than relieved to hear a no vote to the Overton Gateway Project.

Shelby County's Land Use Control Board voted "no" to the development plans proposed for the Overton Gateway project.

The developers of the project hoped to build an apartment complex, some of which could be five stories tall, on eight vacant acres near the intersection of East Parkway and Sam Cooper Boulevard.

Neighbors who oppose the plan packed the house at the Land Use Control Board meeting to voice their concerns about what they referred to as a "David vs. Goliath" fight.

They said the big issues were about height and parking and about setting a precedent for other historic neighborhoods.

"I can't even believe that we won, but I really believe that citizens have a right to their neighborhood," said Leas Wood resident Rose Doherty.

In a 5-1 vote, the Shelby County Land Use Control Board sided with neighbors who fought to protect their historic status.

"If Lea Woods guidelines are overridden, who will be next?" asked Leas Wood neighborhood spokesperson Vaughan Dewar.

Developers argued that the area of Sam Cooper and E. Parkway already has heavy traffic with more than 25,000 people passing through every day.

They said the location chosen for a housing complex was based on proximity to Overton Park and Broad Avenue amenities.

"This development provides just that," said Forrest Owens with ETI Corporation.

Neighbors took issue with the three-to-four stories tall apartments exceeding community height guidelines.

There were also concerns about parking overflowing near their homes.

Midtown residents said they aren't opposed to the overall development project, but said if it must happen, they want it done the right way.

"We wait 20 years to build a bicycle lane to connect one end of our city to the other, and now we're going to drop an apartment complex right on top of it and sever it now," said Judge Bobby Carter, president of the Hein Park Neighborhood Association.

The developers of the project said they plan to take the issue to the Memphis City Council.

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