CLINTON — First it housed St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, rectory and school.

And then it was to become the new address for a senior housing facility.

Now there is a new plan in the works for the parcel of land in the 200 block of Fourth Avenue North.

The Clinton City Plan Commission on Wednesday heard about plans by O. Daniel Osaro, a Clinton doctor, who would like to put up to four, four-unit apartments on the land that became available after the senior housing facility plans fell through.

The land actually is appropriately zoned for such construction, an action that happened when the senior housing complex was in the works. But Osaro, who has an option to purchase the land, wants to know if his plans would be OK’d by the commission since any development on the site would have to have a commission-approved site plan.

Attorney Mathew Fullerton, representing Osaro, said he wanted to present preliminary plans to the commission because Osaro didn’t want to get too far into the process only to learn he would not get the city’s blessing.

Fullerton said he is aware some of the neighbors have contacted Ed Kross, Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Parish’s attorney, and said they don’t want the building to turn into something that is less than desirable.

Fullerton said Osaro owns rental property in other communities and that he wants to make his next investment in something new. He estimated the cost would be anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 per building.

“He wants to go with new construction,” he said. “They won’t be rented for a low price.”

Residents had questions about whether there would be an on-site manager. Fullerton said the manager would not be on-site but lives in Clinton and would be at the site quickly when needed.

He also pointed out that Osaro has other properties in town, such as his newly expanded medical clinic and the strip mall that houses Quizno’s.

“He doesn’t do shoddy stuff,” Fullerton said.

Gary Watters, who lives at 233 Fourth Ave. North, said the land had housed a church for decades and that when Prince of Peace approached neighbors about the senior complex, they could live with that plan. He said he only learned recently that the senior complex wasn’t going to happen and was unsure as to whether he wanted an apartment complex in his neighborhood. He wondered if he had the legal right to petition that it be zoned as it had been when a church was standing on it.

He said he really would like to see single-family housing there instead.

Fullerton responded that the city is in need of good apartments, especially in light of expansions at Néstlé Purina and Archer Daniels Midland and the partial opening of the Thomson (Ill.) Correctional Center.

“All these people are going to need decent apartments,” he said, with commission member Steve Howes, a Realtor, estimating the apartments could rent for $600 apiece.

“If it isn’t quality he won’t get a return on his investment,” Fullerton said of Osaro.

Commission member Sue Tugana said she wanted to see drawings of the phases of the site plan since Osaro will be putting up the buildings as needed instead of all at once.

“I think the neighbors deserve that — I think the city deserves that,” she said.

Bob Krajnovich, a member of the Citizens Advisory Group that has been involved with the environmental remediation at the former Allied Steel site, said he feared the land the church sat on could be contaminated.

“The city has never been notified that it has been contaminated,” said City Planning Director John Staszewski. Krajnovich said it probably wouldn’t be a problem if the land wasn’t disturbed. Citizens witnessing the meeting said the land was disturbed when the church was demolished last year.

Commission members said that information would be accessible through the Environmental Protection Agency or that it should be forwarded, possibly by Krajnovich or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to the city.

Commission member Gene Machael said property owners in that area were notified of possible contamination. He owns property near the Allied site and said he was given details about contamination.

Fullerton said he would take the information back to Osaro to see if he wants to proceed with development of a site plan.

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