Council rejects housing for senior citizens

May. 09, 2013 @ 04:36 PM

A senior housing project on 2517 Secrest Shortcut Road will not move forward after Monroe City Council unanimously denied a rezoning request Tuesday night. 

The initial zoning, “Heritage Gardens” was approved by the council in 2007. The rezoning request was to change it to conditional district “Woodcreek.” The planning board recommended approval.

The new proposal, brought by Brad Parker with Greenway Residential Development, LLC, would have allowed the construction of an age-restricted, 72-unit multi-family development at a density of 4.6 unites per acre. The project would have included 12 buildings with 60 two-bedroom units and 12 one-bedroom units with between 850 and 1,040 square feet of heated floor. Rents would be based on income.

There would have also been a community building with a gym, business center, laundry and other amenities.

While some residents were concerned about property values and increased traffic, many seniors came to speak in support of the project, citing a need for more senior housing in Monroe. 

Affordable housing is “scarce” in Monroe, Richardson told the council. “We feel there is not much of a choice here.” 

Ruth Helms of Monroe agreed with the statement. 

“Folks, the need is here. We need this project,” she told council. “We know that we need this type of housing.”

She said that in discussions with senior councils, the three main concerns among seniors are transportation, housing and long-term care. Seniors want rental housing, but also want to “age in place” and not have to leave their hometowns, Helms said. 

Linda Smosky, director of the Council on Aging, said they are often asked what senior housing is like in Union County. She said there is a two-year waiting list for one community and a year waiting list for another.

As of 2010, Smosky told the council, 43 out of the 100 counties in the state had more people older than 60 than younger than 17. 

“That trend is going to continue until 2025,” she said. “We need to prepare now.”

The development would have utilized a tax-credit deal from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Council member Billy Jordan noted that the council has a history of not being supportive of tax-credit deals. 

“They start out serving the clientèle...they do start to decline,” Jordan said. 

The application deadline for the credit is next week and they would not be able to apply without the rezoning, Richardson told the council. 

Council member Dottie Nash asked if approving this project would reverse their precedent on tax-credit projects. 

“Your have to look at each project on its own merit,” City Attorney Terry Sholar said. 

He added that there is not a firm precedent for opposing this kind of housing, but there is a history. 

While Council member John Ashcraft thought the project could be positive for the city, he had a “hard time” with the location and worried, as others did, about the traffic increase.

The project would have added a left-turn lane and a right-deceleration lane to ease traffic. 

Council member Margaret Desio made the motion to deny the application, which was approved unanimously.