Marathon board bows to neighborhood opposition, axes proposed apartment complex from 36 units to 12

Residents of 64th Street turn out en masse Thursday.
Residents of 64th Street turn out en masse Thursday.

More than 50 residents living on or near 64th Street oceanside in Marathon let the Marathon Planning Commission hear that they don't want a 36-unit apartment complex in their neighborhood.

In the end, commissioners bowed, voting Thursday to allow 12 units, far fewer than Anchorage Homes LCC sought.

Residents expressed concern about increased traffic on the street, which they said is already too narrow for the 16 houses already there.

"I have a Habitat [for Humanity] home on 64th Street and all I can think of is all the traffic that will go up and down the street and how it'll affect all the children on the street," Tracy Garcia said. "I'm 100 percent for affordable housing, just not in this area. There are plenty of other grassy areas in Marathon where they can have their own street."

Garcia was one of about 10 people who spoke out against the development at the planning board's meeting at the city's main firehouse.

If the 12 apartments get the OK from the City Council, they would likely be built and overseen by Wendover Housing Partners, which built and owns Flagler Village and Banyan Grove on Stock Island.

They would likely be two- and three-bedroom units and aimed at people who are considered low and very low income. A family of four in Marathon with a household income of $69,800 is considered low income; the same family with an income of $43,650 is considered very low income.

Karen Buckley echoed Garcia's concerns about the impact the apartments would have on traffic and children playing outside.

"I have an ongoing issue with the traffic entering and exiting on 64th street. This many number of cars coming in and out is not safe for the residents," Buckley said. 

Attorney Gregory Oropeza, who represented Anchorage Homes, suggested installing traffic cameras on the road at the expense of the developer to help curb speeding traffic. He also claimed the apartments would improve wetlands since landscaping and maintaining a seawall is part of the project.

Parking is also an issue.

"We have an obligation provide more parking. If we violate, the city of Marathon can withhold the certificate of occupancy," Oropeza said.

"It's just way too concentrated for that neighborhood, let alone affordable housing," Commissioner Jeff Smith said. "I'm for everyone making money, but I do have an issue with the density and community."

When the planning commissioners OK'd 12 units, the residents cheered.

The project will have its first hearing this Tuesday at the Marathon City Council meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Marathon Government Center.