Thursday, January 21, 2016

City Council Gives Final Approval to Prairie Hill Site Plan!!

The Iowa City Council Tuesday gave its final approval to the site plan for Prairie Hill.  The vote was 6 to 0, with councilor John Thomas abstaining because he has a conflict of interest.  John is a landscape architect working with Iowa City Cohousing to develop the layout for plantings on our site.  We will be removing most of the existing scrub woods to develop our homes and their surroundings.  The landscape plan includes trees along streets and sidewalks and nearly 4 acres devoted to orchards, vegetable gardens, prairie. and open space.

On this site plan, the fruit and nut orchards appear as large clumps of big trees to the northwest corner of the developed area and between the development and the half of the site that is undeveloped. On the west or left side of the site plan, the large ovals are planned as mostly vegetable gardens.  The lightly shaded areas just outside the gardens will have small fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.  To the south or the bottom of the site the steep hill will be mostly undisturbed or developed in prairie plants. To the west or left of the site, the natural woodland will be supplemented with native fruit and nut trees.  (We are fortunate that the wooded ravine just west of Prairie Hill property will remain natural in perpetuity.)

On the developed or right half of the site, we will plant shade trees along Miller Avenue, Prairie Hill Lane, and our sidewalk network. Residents will do plantings around their units, likely a combination of kitchen gardens of herbs, berries, and flowers.

Near the east or right edge of the site, behind the street trees along Miller Avenue, a long snake-like structure will be a bioswale, or rain garden, planted with native species with deep roots.  These plants in a depression in the land are part of our sustainable stormwater management plan. It will help hold rain and snow runoff from the site, filter pollutants and keep it from flowing into the city storm sewer and ultimately into the Iowa River, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Carolyn Stewart Dyer

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