Aldermen will be listening closely Wednesday to all Davenport residents when the council convenes a public hearing that leads to a series of votes to decide the future of St. Ambrose University’s stadium.
The extensive public rezoning hearing process continues at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers. Davenport residents will have another chance to share their thoughts on the university’s plans.
The rezoning process requires three separate council votes, which are scheduled June 11, June 25 and July 9. If the council ultimately votes ‘yes,’ St. Ambrose will continue its steady growth. If the council votes, ‘no,’ several things might happen.
The school could choose to erect a class building, church or chapel, and face neighbors again. If the university sells to the city or school district, almost any public facility could proceed without hearings.
The university also could sell the land to developers capable of filling the 40 acres with as many as 300 single family homes, including 40 or 50 duplexes under current zoning. How might residents react then? It wouldn’t matter. City code requires no hearings for those types of uses under the existing R-4 zoning.
The property also could be subdivided for rezoning of smaller lots along Central Park for retail or commercial uses to support those new neighbors. Those changes would require hearings. Feedback would be limited to those within 200 feet of those individual lots, not the entire neighborhood.
About the only option we cannot imagine is for the university to continue maintaining this empty space. St. Ambrose just purchased the Eye Care Pavilion to renovate into a welcome center at Locust and Harrison streets. The school has been quite candid about growth plans. If the university is blocked from expanding north, trustees might find it irresponsible to hang on to the empty lot.
We’ve seen the university as a good neighbor to the people around this property and the entire Quad-City region. We’ve seen the university change course to respond to neighbors’ concerns.
So we would expect it to proceed thoughtfully and seek neighborhood input.
But it would not be required to. Under current zoning, developers could snip a ribbon on a new residential subdivision, leaving current residents with 300 new neighbors, not an old, familiar one.