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Affordable housing project one step closer in Flowery Branch
Council gives first OK to rezoning that would pave way for 60-unit apartment complex
Mitchell Davenport of Clement & Co. speaks to the Flowery Branch City Council on Thursday.

There are still hoops to jump through, but a developer got closer Thursday night to bringing a 60-unit affordable housing project geared to residents 55 and older to Flowery Branch.

City Council gave its first OK Thursday night to St. Simons Island-based Clement & Co.’s rezoning request that would allow for the complex to be built on a 7-acre site off East Main Street near Thurmon Tanner Parkway and Phil Niekro Boulevard.

“I’m going to vote yes for it, but it’s a very, very soft yes,” Councilman Joe Anglin said. “I could easily be persuaded by citizens — and do my own research here — to change my mind.”

Several concerns were raised by residents and city officials on a number of issues, including traffic, public safety and future upkeep of the 60-unit apartment complex.

“I’m still very skeptical,” Anglin said. “The multifamily thing, I think, scares people. I do think the senior designation does soften the blow a little bit.”

Clement & Co., represented at the meeting by principal Mitchell Davenport, hopes to use a low-income tax credit program through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to build the complex.

The complex would have 30 one-bedroom units with monthly rents varying from $390 to $575 and 29 two-bedroom units with monthly rents varying from $460 to $675, according to city documents.

An additional unit would house the complex manager.

Twelve of the units wouldn’t have income restrictions, with renters charged the “market rate,” but the primary renters in all units must be 55-plus.

Also, the program doesn’t involve rent vouchers, such as in Section 8 of the federal housing code, which allows subsidies to help low-income tenants pay for rent.

“I am able to provide something that is safe, decent and affordable to somebody who would otherwise be living in substandard housing or living with family,” Davenport said.

It would be similar to other affordable housing projects that have arisen throughout Hall County lately.

Ronald Sturgill of East Main Street said he was concerned about the company’s projection that the complex might generate up to 90 additional cars on the road.

“But another concern, whenever we look at developments like this, is they look nice when they come in but over time, they start falling apart,” he said.

Another resident, Brian Loving, told the council, “I’m really concerned about the low-income part of (the project). I’m not sure how that side of it would benefit the city, but I guess that’s up to you guys.

“I would like some due diligence … before you make any decisions, please.”

The project is tied to several conditions, including that the developer conduct a traffic impact study.

Neighboring streets get particularly congested, such as during the evening rush hour. Phil Niekro, for example, flows into Spout Springs Road at Interstate 985. Spout Springs is slated for widening from Flowery Branch to Braselton.

The tax credit program involves a competitive process, with Davenport saying he needs to apply by June 9. He won’t know whether he has been awarded the needed credits until November.

City Council’s final vote on the rezoning request is set for June 2.

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