Thursday, 16 February 2017 21:17

Planning board recommends rejection of Becker Dr. rezoning

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The Roanoke Rapids Planning Board this evening voted to recommend city council reject a rezoning proposal which could lead to an age-restricted senior apartment complex off Becker Drive.

The recommendation to not rezone the land, which is beside El Tenampa, came on a 5-3 vote and a motion by Richard Bolton, which was seconded by Henry Ford. Sherry Mills and Chuck Landen also sided with Bolton and Ford. Because he had to leave the meeting early, Terry Buffaloe’s vote was counted in the affirmative.
Mills stated in final discussions on the matter before recommendations to council were made, she believed rezoning the land to B-3 from B-4 might present an obstruction to residents in the area. “B-3 portions are already along the development. The residential is behind the commercial.”
Rezoning the land in anticipation of the senior apartments could bring a residential development to the forefront in an area which is predominantly commercial, she said.
For residents in the area near the proposed rezoning, the recommendation of rejection was welcome news.
Troy Williams said he hopes city council, which will hold a public hearing on the matter at its 5:15 p.m. Tuesday meeting, will follow the planning board’s recommendation. That meeting will be held at Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall. “I hope so,” he said afterward. “My wife and I have worked hard to get where we’re at. We’d like to keep it where it’s at.”
Williams said he passed out flyers in the neighborhood, encouraging people to come to the meeting. “I’ll be back Tuesday,” he said, referring to the city council meeting.
“I was surprised, pleasantly surprised,” said Jessica Dickens, an opponent of the project. “I’m proud the board got behind the citizens.”
Dickens said she believed Mills’ take on the matter was correct. “To me she’s right, it’s not consistent.”
This was the second meeting on the issue after the planning board tabled the rezoning last month to hear from a representative of The Woda Group, the developer of the project.
While he had no immediate comment following the meeting, Denis Blackburne, senior vice president of the Savannah, Georgia-based company, told the board the Becker Drive project is intended to be a three-story, L-shaped unit, which consists of 24 one-bedroom apartments and 26 two-bedroom apartments.
It would include a multipurpose room, fitness room and computer room. It would be for seniors 55 and up.
The company has a $5.3 million budget for the project, the price per unit about $160,000. “It’s age restrictive, not Section 8,” he said. “There are no public vouchers.”
He also said it was not an assisted living facility. “It’s individual living. The people are active. They pay rent and live normal lives.”
He said the maximum height of the facility would be 35-feet, which is the maximum allowed in the B-3 District. “We own the property. We screen and (check) tenants, run criminal background checks.”
The complex is considered affordable housing with an income cap. While the company doesn’t get subsidies, it does get tax credits, Blackburne said, the project being dependent on funding through the North Carolina Housing Financing Agency. “We’re competing with applications in other cities. You score points for being close to banks and restaurants. That’s what brought us to this site.”

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