LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A developer’s plan to build 178 apartments for low-income tenants in the wealthy Louisville suburb of Prospect was given the green light by Metro Council Thursday night — five years after the council rejected the original version of the plan.

LDG Development’s “Prospect Cove” apartment complex is planned for a vacant lot near the Kroger shopping center in Prospect — a zip code where residents’ income is more than twice the county average and more than 9 in 10 residents are homeowners.

LDG earlier this year unveiled a slightly scaled-back version of its original plan for the property. The developer is also pursuing compensation for the denial of its 2016 plan via a lawsuit against Louisville Metro. LDG claims the council turned down its plan in violation of federal fair housing laws.

The latest plan for Prospect Cove calls for a three-story complex with 178 one- and two-bedroom units. The earlier plan called for 198 units and four stories.

LDG is no longer designating the units as “senior” housing for those over 55, but “most if not all” of the apartments would still be reserved for tenants who meet low-income guidelines established by federal Department of Housing & Urban Development, an LDG official told WDRB News in October.

That means tenants could earn no more than $47,450 for a single person to $67,750 for a family of four, according to HUD’s 2022 guidelines. The median family income in 40059, the zip code that largely encompasses Prospect, was $175,938 in 2020.

The 26-member Metro Council gave final approval to the zoning change during its final meeting of the year Thursday evening in a 21-2 vote.

Scott Reed, a Republican council member who represents Prospect, said during a council committee meeting last week that he cannot support the current Prospect Cove plan, which he reiterated ahead of Thursday's vote.

"This is a monstrosity. It does not fit to the area. Had the developer at any point come back with a reasonable compromise, we wouldn't be having this discussion," Reed said.

Reed said during last week's committee meeting that he was exploring changes to the plan that he hopes would “adequately addresses the concerns and I and many may have” about the project. He did not detail those changes during the committee meeting. Reed did not return a call earlier Thursday for comment.

Christi Lanier-Robinson, LDG’s executive vice president, said the developer is always open to talking, but the company feels it has compromised enough and would like a vote on its current plan.

“We believe the plan we out forward is a good plan,” she said. “It took into account all of their objections to the original plan, and what we are not interested in are plans that are just about stalling.”

Democratic Councilman Bill Hollander, who represents District 9, said during Thursday's Metro Council meeting that the housing issue in the community wouldn't be solved "if we don't build housing everywhere."

Prospect’s suburban city government and many residents continue to oppose Prospect Cove. Common complaints are that the apartment complex is too big for the area, which is mostly comprised of single-family homes.

Some have said lower-income people would not do well in Prospect because of a lack of suitable jobs and public transportation. Some have said the fire department and emergency services aren’t prepared for an influx of residents.

Residents have also pursued an unusual objection to development plans — that the apartment complex’s proximity to the Kroger gas station creates a health hazard for the future residents.

John P. Simpson, a Prospect resident, wrote a five-page letter to Louisville Metro planners for the Prospect Cove case, arguing that the proximity to the gas station is a serious concern not simply “a smokescreen” for opposing affordable housing.

“Louisville needs more affordable housing and the Metro government deserves a gold star for its efforts to address the problem,” Simpson wrote. “But warehousing Louisville residents who need affordable housing in dangerous proximity to a source of known carcinogens, especially when there are other location options, is morally irresponsible and will not burnish Louisville’s reputation.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2022. WDRB Media. All rights reserved.