Neighbors object to board’s approval of development

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 07:34 PM

An eight-building, 40-unit townhouse complex has been proposed for six acres off East Andrews Avenue by an Alabama-based developer.

Over objections by prospective neighbors, the Henderson Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a permit Tuesday for Gateway Development of Florence, Ala., to build two- and three-bedroom townhouses as part of an affordable housing business model.

According to Thomas Ward with Gateway, no affiliation with Henderson’s Gateway Community Development Corp., the two-bedroom price would start at about $400 a month. Ward said the plan is contingent on an affordable housing tax incentive program, one he described as competitive and capped at one per county.

“These are for affordable housing, for people making between $10 and $15 an hour,” Ward said. “There is a market for affordable housing.”

There is an upper limit to incomes, Ward added, because of tax program perimeters to keep the availability exclusive to the income range that tops out at about $30,000 yearly income for a family of four.

“Units will be made available for disability and other fixed income households first of all,” Ward said. “These are also for wage earners, but they have to be within that range.”

Local realtor Mike Garrett, with Caldwell Banker Advantage on behalf of the property owners, said the Henderson Police Department took part in consultations for security and law enforcement concerns.

“This development not only brings a tax base, but family-based amenities as well,” Garrett said. “There is a community building, a playground, picnic and sitting areas.”

According to a schematic distributed to board members, an existing Food Lion side-road labeled as an extension of Orville Street would be the one access for the townhouse community.

Four, six-unit buildings would run along the west edge of the six-acre tract, parallel to Cardinal Drive and nearby U.S. 1. Five larger units comprise a fifth building, with handicapped parking spaces in front.

Two more buildings make up the remaining 11 units. A community center and playground, mail terminal and covered picnic area line the sides of the roadway leading to the lane. The complex has 80 parking spaces, 20 more than required by regulation.

The owners of the Food Lion property developed the roadway with an extension point for further development of the rear tract of land that they also own.

Neighbors living along Cardinal Drive, representing 18 single-family households running along one side of the proposed tract, showed a united front against the plan as promising potential new crime and traffic problems.

Charles Coker said he has already experienced a half-dozen serious theft incidents where he lives, buildings and vehicles have been broken into and one car was stolen. He didn’t want problems coming from his backyard area.

Daryl Eatmon said the intersection into Food Lion is already overwhelmed by traffic congestion.

“I don’t know how you’re going to get all of those housing units into that place,” Eatmon said. “I just don’t see it.”

Deborah Sykes said 14 homes oppose the plan, and she presented a signed petition.

“If the property owners want to develop that area, put something there that we need,” she said.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.