With only three of five members present, the Commerce Planning Commission voted 2-1 Monday night to recommend that the city council approve a rezoning request that would allow the construction of 48 income-restricted senior apartments off State Street near the bypass.
Paladin, Inc. seeks rezoning from R-3 to R-4 for the project. The city council will act on the recommendation at its May 19 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
Chairman Joe Leffew seconded the motion by member Jimbo Stephenson to recommend approval — with conditions. Adam Fouche opposed it.
It was not a decision easily reached. During the presentation by Phil Ellen of Paladin, Leffew repeatedly insisted that Commerce is already overburdened with rental property and questioned whether Paladin could guarantee that a 55-over development would have no impact on the city school system.
Ellen conceded that regulations require that only one member of the household has to be over 55. Leffew insisted that under HUD (Housing and Urban Development) rules, up to four people could occupy each apartment.
Complicating the process was the fact that Paladin’s first application showed 78 units. On Monday, it proposed just 48, 12 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom apartments, 1,202 square feet apiece. Yet another document had the number of units at 52. Ellen apologized for that confusion, adding that the project would develop only 12 of the 19.49 acres, maintaining the four-units-per-acre requirement of the city’s zoning ordinance.
“The product is good,” Leffew conceded. It is a needed product for this country? … Is it the best thing for Commerce, Georgia at the time? I don’t know.”
Fouche pressed Ellen on whether residents could have grandchildren living with them.
“Out of 1,000 units we have, there are probably zero grandchildren living in the apartments,” Ellen responded.
“Out of your 1,000 units you will guarantee me that you don’t have one child that is going to school?” Fouche reiterated.
“One child will not affect a school,” Ellen countered.
Stephenson voiced support for the concept, noting that there are few places where the elderly can live and have the security of someone looking after building and grounds.
“I personally think it would be a good thing for our elderly people,” he said. “Look at some of the rental property around here. I wouldn’t want my mother or mother-in-law to live in those. …I don’t know that we’ve got enough of that kind of (apartments) around here.”
Several residents spoke. Keith and Jim Bowers of State Street were interested in the precise location and the effect on property values, but did not express opposition. Jean and Art Collins, Cherry Street, asked about the company’s initial proposal in 2010 — which the city approved, but which fell through due to EPD regulations regarding a “wet weather stream” on the site. Les Knoblock, Georgia Avenue, “strongly” recommended that a site manager be required and speculated that the units would be quickly rented. Molly Laboda, Crestwood Circle, called the project “a marvelous idea” and said the rental prices $384-$450/month) “are quite good.”
Like the JES Holdings proposal to redevelop the Oxford building site, Paladin’s $7 million project is contingent upon a low-interest loan through the Department of Community Affairs. In accepting the loan, Paladin would be required to set income limits for residents, ranging from 50 to 60 percent of the “mean median family income” of the area, which Ellen said was $52,800.
In the end, Leffew said he was “on the fence,” but he seconded and voted for Stephenson’s motion, which also require the on-site manager and restrictions on building materials. Speaking to city council members Johnny Eubanks and Donald Wilson in the audience, Leffew said, “I apologize to the city council publicly for doing this to them.”
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry