Peachtree Housing Partners, developers for the proposed Alsobrook Senior Village, received approval for a zon-ing change from the city council at its regular bi-monthly meeting Monday, Oct. 10.
The vote was split 3-2, with council members Johnnie “Red” Smith, Eddie Stinnett, and Louis Hamm voting in favor of the change and Earl Gray and Charles Sharrock dissenting.
In discussion prior to the vote, Gray presented figures indicating that the city’s population is “out of kilter” with apartment dwellers.
“This would also be the first three-story building in the city, which I’m not sure I’d like,” he said, “and Dietz Road has enough traffic on it now with all the people coming off Boynton and Burning Bush roads.”
Sharrock based his dissent on the change from commercial to mixed-use zoning, saying that prior to the parcel’s annexation into the city, it had been set aside by the Catoosa County government to use for commercial growth for Fort Oglethorpe. “I’d like to see it stay commercial.”
Rudy Walldorf, a Chattanooga real estate broker involved in the project, said that commercial growth is fine, “but you’ve also got to have rooftops to attract that growth.”
Walldorf also said that before the property was purchased at commercial prices, and that the current real estate market does not bear the likelihood of another buyer seeking it for commercial use.
Peachtree Housing Partners, located in Atlanta, originally sought the zoning change in July, but the council declined to vote on the ordinance.
Concerns over the particular residential zoning have been expressed — council member Smith asked if any of the housing would be subsidized by the federal government.
“We’ve been burned by stuff like this before, where the developer said he would construct one thing and then went another direction,” Smith said.
Smith again inquired about that issue Monday, whereby Max Elbe, managing principal of Peachtree Housing, said there is no public assistance aspect to the project.
“All tenants will be required to pay their own rent in full,” Elbe said. “We will get nothing directly from the gov-ernment.”
This time around the developers sought PM zoning, or planned development-mixed use, which imposes stricter requirements and gives the city council greater oversight powers.
According to Elbe, the one- and two-bedroom units will rent for $360 to $440 per month, and annual income range for prospective tenants is $27,000 to $32,250.
Earlier this month the Fort Oglethorpe Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the plan to the council as submitted.
But with the zoning hurdle cleared there is still another ahead.
Peachtree partner Josh Thomason said the company must now obtain tax credits available for reduced-rent sen-ior developments which are essential to financing the project.
“We are required to have the proper zoning in order to receive those credits,” Thomason said. “We won’t be able to build this without them.”
He said they expect to hear a decision on the approval of the credits by the end of the month.
In other business at the Oct. 10 Fort Oglethorpe City Council Meeting:
· The council voted 4-1 to approve the 2012 city budget of $13.7 million. Charles Sharrock was the dissenting vote. He declined to comment on his reason for the nay vote.
· A payment of $9,735 was approved for the processing of city property taxes by the Catoosa County tax commis-sioner
· Approval was unanimous for the renewal of a $5,000 annual contract with Catoosa Citizens for Literacy.
· The council approved a budget for purchasing equipment upgrades with a $15,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.