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Jefferson residents want rural area to stay quiet
Developer wants to put senior-living community on Y Z Sailors Road
Tracie Gibbons and her neighbors are afraid that a proposed development will increase traffic and disrupt the quality of life on their rural street in Jefferson. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

JEFFERSON — Y Z Sailors Road in Jefferson can be a lot of things, but a planned neighborhood isn’t one of them.

With fewer than 15 homes dispersed between a cattle, chicken and horse farms and rambling wooded lots, rural is how most residents on the road describe their community.

It’s the type of place where neighbors might barter a batch of fried okra for lawn service. Or where children might gather at one house for turns on a four-wheeler or target practice with a BB gun and a watermelon perched on a fence.

A recent proposal for a 40-unit condominium neighborhood has caused concern among many of the residents, who worry that their quality of life will be negatively impacted.

“This is a very rural area. There is no place for a neighborhood here,” said Tracie Gibbons, who has lived on Y Z Sailors for the past three years.

“We left Duluth because of the traffic and development. When we lived there I wouldn’t let (my oldest son) outside alone to play. But, moving here, it was just a sigh of relief.”

With a tree house in the back yard and original structures on the property of her 100-year-old farmhouse to discover, Gibbons says that her sons, 7-year-old Austin and 3-year-old Logan, enjoy spending hours outside playing and frolicking with their pets. It’s something that she says couldn’t happen with at least 40 new residents.

“There are no sidewalks here. We don’t need them because there’s not a lot of traffic. But if they build 40 houses, there will be 80 more cars on this road because everyone has two cars these days. Not to mention the construction traffic — things would be just insane,” Gibbon said.

“The kids love to check the mail, but they couldn’t do that with 80 more cars on the road because we have to cross the street to get to our mailboxes. And the (horse farm owner) takes the horses for a walk up and down the road in the evenings — the kids love running out to meet her — but that couldn’t happen either with 80 new cars.”

The proposed community would be for adults ages 55 and older. The condominiums would be detached, single family units with about 12 feet between each unit, said Craig Taylor, project representative, during a recent Jefferson City Council meeting.

Y Z Sailors Road residents attended recent City Council and planning development meetings where the project was presented to city officials. During the meetings, the residents claimed that another senior community wasn’t needed because there are already two within city limits.

One of the communities — Briarcrest — has eight homes available, while the other community — Northminster — has multiple homes available as well as additional, approved development phases.

According to Taylor, comparing the proposed development to existing communities is unfair, as is existing neighbors attempting to block new residents from moving in.

Gibbons says the residents aren’t opposed to new neighbors; they just don’t want 40 homes’ worth.

“If they divided up that property and put a house on 5-acre tracts, people would buy them up,” Gibbons said. “I understand that everyone needs to make money, but there should be a need for something before it is built. I don’t want to be mean but, doggone it, we don’t need that much development out here.”

The City Council is expected to take action on a proposed rezoning request by the property’s owner during its voting session at 6 p.m. Monday at the Jefferson Civic Center on Kissam Street.

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