A local developer’s plan to build 128 apartment units off West Candler Street across from Rose Hill Cemetery in Winder has been met with strong opposition from nearby residents — less than two years after the property was rezoned to allow for construction of a senior housing development.
The Winder City Council voted Tuesday, Oct. 6, to table a request by LAB P.I. Group to amend the conditioned rezoning of 14.79 acres between Marion, James and Myrtle streets by relieving the applicants of a condition that the apartments be age-restricted (55 and older) and doubling the number of allowed units from 64 to 128, with all the units to be constructed south of the creek on the property.
The council originally approved the rezoning of the property to R-3 in May 2018 at the request of Roswell-based Piedmont Housing Group, which sought to build a 64-unit senior housing complex. But the project, which was to be backed with Georgia Department of Community Affairs housing tax credits, was later abandoned.
LAB P.I.’s request to double the number of allowed units has been met with resistance from residents, and more than dozen have signed an online petition opposed to the high-density housing.
“We strongly oppose and believe the addition of a high-density apartments development will add no value to our surrounding community,” resident Jonathan Tucker said. “We oppose high-density housing in our area and want to prevent the negative consequences (a development) like this will have: it will increase traffic, lower our property values by setting a precedent for high-density housing, increase crime and subsidized housing and overpopulate our school cluster.”
The city’s planning staff also recommended against waiving the condition for the development to be age-restricted.
Under the city’s new comprehensive zoning ordinance and the maximum-allowed density, the developers would be allowed 118 units on the property, according to city staff, so the applicants would have to request a variance in order to be granted all 128.
Applicant Wes VanKirk requested that the council table the request until its November meeting so that he could meet with the residents and try to address their concerns.
“I think it’s only fair we table due to the amount of interest it has received,” councilman Jimmy Terrell said. “Give (the applicant) the opportunity to see what they bring back to the table. I think that’s being fair to all the parties involved.”
In other business Tuesday, the council:
•approved a renewal of city’s health and wellness benefits plan with Cigna — keeping the plan and premiums at current levels, with an annual cost to the city of $1.9 million. The council also approved offering a health savings account plan in addition to the HRA plan and will continue to offer a wellness program to employees, but will no longer offer an opt-out option to employees.
•approved a conditional-use variance for applicant Shay Reed to allow for an auto repair/installation shop at 11 Virginia Ave.
•approved a conditional-use variance for applicant Christine Abdullah to operate a massage therapy business at 122 West Athens St. Suite G.
•approved a proclamation in support of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.