Board Hears Pros and Cons of New Affordable Housing Project - TribPapers

Board Hears Pros and Cons of New Affordable Housing Project

LDG Mutlifamily LLC proposed project at 171 Monticello Road. Courtesy of LDG Mutlifamily LLC.

Weaverville – A request to supply water to a new 168-unit affordable housing development at 171 Monticello Road took center stage at the Weaverville Town Council meeting on Monday evening (Aug. 20th).

LDG Multifamily LLC is asking the town to provide “…56,600 gallons per day off of a 3-inch water meter for……” the proposed apartment complex, which is not within the town limits. At the opening of the meeting, Weaverville Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons moved to delay the vote on the water request until next month and turn the agenda item into a public listening session.

When the item came up in the meeting, the developer, a county commissioner, and area residents spent over 40 minutes voicing details and opinions about the proposed project. Landon Cox, development manager with LDG Multifamily LLC, started the discussion by explaining the development. He said LDG builds affordable housing across the southeast and hopes this Weaverville project will be the first of several in the area.

He said the 168 units would be contained in seven buildings. According to a map, the seven buildings would be built on a little over 10.5 acres. The property is located behind the Walmart and next to the two developments that have either been completed or are still under construction near the intersection of 25/70 and Monticello Road, with a pool and gym. The big difference between the two apartment complexes already there and this new one is that the new one would be based on income as to who could live there.

Fifty-eight of the units would be for people making 30% of the median income in the Asheville area, meaning the household income would have to be between $15,000 and $24,000 a year. Another 52 units would be set aside for people making between $28,000 and $46,000. The balance of 58 units would be for people who made between $39,000 and $63,000, Cox told the board.

Cox also said that depending on who ended up living there would determine what programs might be available for residents. For instance, if there were a lot of children, there would be after-school programs; if there were a lot of immigrants, there would be space for them to meet with immigration attorneys.

Councilwoman Michele Wood asked Cox to explain the difference between Section 8 housing and HUD housing. “I don’t know that I could,” said Cox, going on to ascribe both to government programs and that the apartment’s management would accept section eight vouchers. He went on to explain that this was not a government-owned project but a private one. Councilman Andrew Nagle asked if the development would pay any property taxes, to which Cox said he did not anticipate them paying any property taxes.

Fitzsimmons told the audience that no signage about the project had been posted yet because the developer had not made an application for the project with the county.

Also speaking in favor of the project was Buncombe County Commissioner and Vice Chair Amanda Edwards, who represents Weaverville and the North Buncombe area. Edwards spoke for the commissioners, saying they were in favor of the project and had pledged $1.5 million toward the project in the form of a low-interest loan.

Resident Ruth Smith, who said she was representing about 100 residents of the Pine Rose Home Owners Association, told the board, “This is an ill-advised project for several reasons,” she stated, and then listed the reasons as: the area already has two large apartment projects; and problems with a low-income project. She then cited the Maple Crest project in Asheville, which she said has identical income requirements and where a person was recently murdered. “Although only a year old, Maple Crest sees significantly more crime than surrounding apartment complexes,” she told the board.

She also read what she described to the board as online reviews by the residents of Maple Crest, which included, “Save your family from this place. The worst place to live in A lot of drugs and weapons. Your family is not safe in this place. ” Another she read said, “This place is quickly turning into a project. It’s a real disappointment. ” She read two other similar comments. She pointed out that since it was outside the town limits, the only law enforcement would be the sheriff’s department, which she said was already understaffed.

Several others spoke in favor of the project and against it. Weaverville resident Harry Harper pointed out that the town’s ordinance (30-18 paragraph 5) stated that the council would only grant water to property outside the town “when it is in the town’s best interest to do so.” Harper said the board members were elected to represent the people living in Weaverville, not those who wanted to live in Weaverville.

Dale Pennell, who was scheduled to talk about whether the town had the water to supply, did not speak. However, his review of the request, which was in the agenda packet, stated the request would bring the current water use from “64.66% of our 1.5 MGD water treatment plant capacity…[to] 68.44%. In my opinion, the town currently has the capacity to serve this development without any adverse effects on our current customers.

He added, “However, my concern relative to approval of this request is that we still do not have a final decision on how to proceed towards the longterm issue of our dwindling treatment capacity. As we approach 70% of our WTP capacity and then realize that any solution(s) is 2 to 4 years in the future before it would actually become functional, more potential projects of similar magnitude will move us quickly towards the benchmark 80% number. ”

Editor’s Note: Please read the commentary on page 15.