The Wright Woods housing subdivision on Kenzig Road earned final Plan Commission approval Tuesday night. The unanimous vote spurred jubilant developers to envision laying foundations within two months and left opponents to consider whether they still have enough money and cause to win a legal fight.

“We were just thrilled to get” Plan Commission approval, said Pamela Dowland of Wright Woods LLC. “It’s an area where we’ve had so many people asking for exclusive condominiums.”

John Mattingly, one of eight Wright Woods opponents to retain attorney Mike Naville, was disappointed.

“Everywhere we went, we got knocked down,” Mattingly said. “It would probably be very, very expensive to fight this; we have not made up our mind.”

The project consists of 61 patio homes and 8 single-family homes; Dowland said prices haven’t been determined.

Wright Woods is a couple of odometer clicks outside of New Albany’s boundary but still within the 2-mile fringe area, which is why the city’s Plan Commission, not the county’s, had jurisdiction.

“We would have gone for 41 houses or something more realistic,” said Mattingly, 65, a 30-year resident of nearby Windover Lane. “I think they’ll make a nice-looking project out of it, because they have to in order to sell it, but I just think that the traffic and runoff water’s going to be our two biggest problems.”

Aside from those concerns, the basis for Wright Woods’ neighbors’ legal crusade is a June 2005 City Council vote.

The project had passed the first two of three votes, but the final ballot read 4-4 when Councilman Donnie Blevins, a previous yes vote, was absent. No other votes were taken, but weeks later marked the 90th day after the Plan Commission’s favorable recommendation, which was a landmark day, according to a state statute.

The law reads: “If the legislative body fails to act on the proposal within 90 days after certification, the ordinance takes effect as if it had been adopted 90 days after certification.” Developers interpreted that to mean that the commission’s recommendation had taken effect, but others weren’t so sure.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been to a tie vote on something that made it passable,” Mattingly said. “Everything that they’ve [the developers] done has kind of been sneaky.”

However, Mattingly added, “Us being bitter about this isn’t helping a bit. It’s water under the bridge.”

The consideration Tuesday night was whether the current 69-home plan is similar enough to the 81-home version that earned primary approval. The density was eased in part because of concerns about the steep-slope area of the project.

“Rarely do you get a secondary review drawing identical to the very first one,” said John Kraft, attorney for Wright Woods LLC. The vote “was unanimous, and it should have been.”

Plan Commission member Jason Emly said Wright Woods LLC — including Dowland and her partners, Gordon L. Moert and Mark L. Highbaugh Sr. — still faces conditions attached to the commission’s approval, such as water-pressure and fire-safety regulations as well as a stipulation to dedicate more space for pedestrians.

Though the commission had concerns throughout the process about the steep-slope location and environmental hazards, it deemed Wright Woods an appropriate use, Emly said, and the project appears to be cleared to go.

Roberta Shewmaker, 70, has spent 31 years at 426 Kenzig Road, formerly at a dead end before Wright Woods extended the road into the development. Roads, water lines and sewer lines have been installed over the summer.

“It’s been bad for me because I’ve had water shut off a couple of days, electric shut off,” said Shewmaker, who was active in opposition to the project until she decided recently that success wasn’t likely.

“They’re going to go ahead and build it,” Shewmaker said. “They’ve got the land, they’ve got the money; you can’t really stop them at this point.”

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