MARVIN – Developers were given the go-ahead this week to begin construction on the Courtyards at Marvin, an age-restricted community to be built near the intersection of South Providence and Bonds Grove Church roads.
Marvin councilmembers unanimously passed a motion Monday, July 28, to allow Epcon Communities to break ground on the project under the condition that they make some small changes, such as adding space outside of the clubhouse to park golf carts. The developer plans to start work in two to three weeks, a representative said this week.
The Courtyards at Marvin will be a 61-home subdivision designed for residents 55 years old and older. Council members and Epcon representatives discussed issues with sidewalks, traffic and whether roads in the neighborhood would be public or private on Monday, with some council members saying they see the project as a great way to welcome a new neighborhood into the community without adding to overcrowding on the roads or in schools that a commercial development or a non-age-restricted housing project would.
Forty percent of the homes in an age-restricted community house only one resident, according to Phillip Fankhauser, principal at Epcon Communities. Homeowners tend to own less cars per household on average and take to the roads less often during the day, especially during peak hours.
“This has the enormous benefit of protecting our schools and the overcrowding issues that we have,” Marvin Mayor Pro Tem Christina Frazzini said.
Mayor Joe Pollino agreed that Courtyards at Marvin fits the town’s plan to control growth.
“We’re not out to create a Sun City,” he said, referring to a famous Arizona retirement community. “But we do have to create a balance, and that’s why this was approved. There’s a market for people sizing down here in Marvin.”
Council member Lanny Openshaw attempted to pass a motion Monday requiring Epcon to make the neighborhood roads private, meaning residents would pay for the upkeep of all roads within the neighborhood through higher homeowners’ association fees instead of the cost falling to Marvin. Openshaw was the only one to vote in support of his motion. Marvin’s subdivision ordinance does not allow private roads in residential areas.
Residents of the community will be “using the roads; it’s not a cut-through road,” Openshaw argued. “I just believe in that user pays.”
Openshaw and Frazzini were repeatedly at odds during the meeting, with Frazzini voicing concerns that the council as a whole was beginning to chase away developers who may want to build in Marvin but hear horror stories about meetings similar to the one Monday.
“We already have a bad reputation with developers due to the behavior of past councils,” she said. “I don’t want to continue to be known as the Marvin Mafia.”
Fankhauser said he was happy with the night’s results following his project’s approval. He feels Marvin is a perfect location for a “maintenance-free community” like Courtyards, where residents will have yard work and other maintenance outside of the home taken care of by private contractors.
“I’m very happy to be able to offer people in Marvin beautiful homes and a lifestyle that takes care of itself,” Fankhauser said. “People love Marvin, and if the big home on one acre doesn’t handle their needs anymore, we still want them to be able to stay in Marvin.”