Elevate Community, a future affordable housing tiny home community, is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The property at 340 Gretna Rd. received initial approval for a zoning change by the Branson Board of Aldermen at their Aug. 25 meeting.

The land is approximately 4.7 acres and is planned to become a community of 48 tiny homes, therefore a zoning change from Community Commercial to High Density Residential was required.

“That’s one of the big things that we talked about at (the) Planning Commission meeting, is affordable housing is great and a huge need for the community, but it’s got to be close to where the jobs are,” said Director of Planning & Development Joel Hornickel.

“There’s so many other things that go along with it, but the fact that this location is close to so many jobs, so many service jobs, will truly be a great benefit. The other benefit is this is in close location, actually adjacent to the owner’s existing facilities. So, they’ll very much be complementary, which again there’s a good reason for it to be in this location.”

However, a neighboring business owned and operated by Steve and David Faria, did not agree that this is an appropriate location for the affordable housing community.

“As he said, it’s a wonderful project, we all agree,” said Steve Faria. “There’s no question it’s a wonderful project. We all want to be there and help the homeless. The only problem is, it’s in the wrong location, and there’s a reason why it’s zoned the way it’s zoned.

“My future plans consisted on this campground, a first-class luxury resort to be constructed on this property. I have also had interest in developing further down Gretna Road. My vision coincided with the same vision I thought Branson had with a Country Boulevard Improvement Project. I wanted to bring in quality families to experience all the great attractions, restaurants, shows and outdoor activities Branson has to offer. The proposed High Density low-income project is a complete contrast of what vision business developers and public had voted on. This project I was going to do was a $15 million plus project, by the way. I personally will not be investing in any future developments on Gretna Road if this proposal gets passed. As a business owner, I have to protect my investments, and surely hope the board can see this is not a good fit.”

Faria also touched on his experiences of “numerous issues with theft, drugs, trespassing and littering” with the current presence of Elevate Branson and how “property values in the area will definitely go down” with the development of the tiny house community. Stallings responded to Faria’s assertions.

“As far as property values go, if we recall in 2016, this was a dilapidated old theatre, which we invested $2.1 million in,” said Stallings.

“So, we do not want to put a development next to us that’s going to lower that property value. We’re looking at a total investment in this property between $4-8 million. We do feel like it’s going to increase property values. Also, one of the reasons that we’re asking for the rezoning is so that we can bring in a tiny house development.

“So, Community Commercial (zoning) already allows for multi-family, but we believe that the tiny house development will actually garner more national and regional attention, and also there’s a difference between providing somebody four walls and a home, versus an apartment or, for instance, a motel.”

According to a release provided by Elevate Branson, the land was purchased by an anonymous benefactor and donated specifically for the tiny home community.

There is also a plan in place to have work opportunities for Elevate Community’s residents on the property through the addition of an art and woodworking studio, outdoor movie and amphitheater, a three-bay auto shop, a welcome center, chapel and a final building that is yet to be determined.

This item passed unanimously by the aldermen and will be brought back for final approval at the next scheduled meeting.

Read ‘Elevate Branson sees first model tiny home’ at the bransontrilakesnews.com to learn more about Elevate Community.

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