Commercial development vexes neighbors south of 53rd Avenue

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- Craig and Charlotte McManus have lived on Lorton Avenue since 1972. But they said they're worried the redevelopment plan on 53rd Street will change their quiet neighborhood into a busy roadway.

"If they don't stop the traffic coming from 53rd onto Lorton, and with Fairhaven (Road) closed, it's a lost cause," Charlotte said.

Craig, Charlotte's husband, has taken extra steps to ensure the neighborhood's needs are met. He's hired an attorney, Mike Meloy, to make sure the City of Davenport takes their concerns  into account. Other residents have complained that traffic would increase in surrounding areas and that run-off water from the redevelopment will flood their roads.

"Just for our own protection, and to get a better idea of what's going on, and then if something happens out here, really bad, guess what? We have a lawyer," Craig said.

The plan for 53rd Street will rezone the land for commercial use on the south side of the street, from Lorton to just past Fairhaven Road, which will be closed off from 53rd Street. Currently, four business locations are planned for the space, including a Portillo's location.

"The worst thing that can happen is 1,300 cars a day will be coming down our neighborhood," Craig said.

He said increased traffic on 53rd Street from the new development will cause some drivers to cut through his neighborhood to get to 46th Street.

"We want our councilman to speak up about the problem with traffic, the problem with congestion, the problem with gridlock..." Craig said.

Charlotte said she's worried about safety. She said cars already come speeding through the area.

"I said the other night at the (neighborhood) meeting, we have valuable children, valuable dogs, humans. At the first fatality, who do we sue?" she said.

Charlotte said she recognizes that the area won't stay the same forever.

"I know that you're not going to stop retail and development," she said. "On 53rd, they've decided it's the growing place... I actually love Costco. I love all retail. I know it's here to stay. And I want the city to develop. But why screw the neighborhood?"

Craig said he and his lawyer will be presenting proposals soon to change the 53rd Street redevelopment plan to address some of the concerns residents have.

The next step for that plan is rezoning. The Davenport Plan and Zoning Commission will discuss the proposed rezoning Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at City Council. There will also be a public hearing on the matter.