Apartment complex annexation denied

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

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The Troy Planning Commission denied a request Thursday to annex a property into the city for the development of an affordable housing apartment complex.

Mitchell Davenport, owner of Clement and Company LLC., came before the commission Thursday to request the annexation so that the complex could be connected to Troy’s sewer system. Davenport had previously been confirmed to hook up to the city’s sewer despite being outside of city limits, but the council passed an ordinance on October 8 to  make it city policy to only supply sewer service to properties within the city.

“I started on this about a year ago and confirmed water and sewer would be available to the site and applied for financing, and subsequently received $8.7 million in tax credits and another $2 million in a low-interest loan,” Davenport said. “But on October 8 the city changed the policy so that sewer is not made available outside the city limits and in this case, I was not grandfathered in.”

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Davenport had originally been on the agenda last month, but requested a 30-day extension due to the opposition from local neighbors to discuss the matters with them. Many of those neighbors returned Thursday to voice their opposition to the complex.

“Right across from my driveway is where he is building this complex,” said Chris Ross. “I like to spend time in my yard with my granddaughter without subsidized housing across the street.”

Shelley Vardaman said she has concerns about what annexing the property would mean for school districts.

“That is currently in Pike County Schools and the bus lets off right there at the probation office,” Vardaman said. “Children would have no way to get to school if that was brought into Troy City Schools and their parents couldn’t take them. “

Sarah Walker brought forward traffic concerns.

“I live on Mobley Drive, which is a dead end road,” Walker said. “If someone ends up on our street for nefarious purposes, they could be trapped don there. It’s a tough enough time pulling out right there already.”

Other concerns shared by residents included decreasing property values and taxing the sewer infrastructure.

One resident said Davenport had not talked to many neighboring residents in the 30 days since the past meeting, which is why Davenport requested the extension.

Davenport said he talked to Ross and several other people, but that “it became real clear that it did not matter” what he said.

“This is affordable housing, but it’s a quality product,” Davenport said. “The grass is cut, everything is orderly, the dumpsters are in receptacles shielded from view – a lot of properties around here the dumpsters are in parking lots and there is not a lick of landscaping.”

Davenport showed that the seven two-story apartment buildings would be drawn into the center of the property to leave a buffer around the perimeter of the property. The complex is planned at 56 units on 12.5 acres, or about 4.5 units per acre.

Davenport called into question the concerns about safety.

“I have Facebook, I see some of what’s going around – some of those comments even made me blush,” Davenport said. “There’s this notion that this is a section 8 development and that’s not true. The construction costs are subsidized through tax credits. With Section 8 housing, the government pays the rent. With this, tenants pay 100 percent of their rent. The tax credits are used toward equity so that we can offer a lower rent.

“Who lives there? It’s workforce housing. The people who work at Sanders Lead, Kimber Manufacturing, wage-earners in the $10 to $15 an hour range qualify to live there. They participate in the community. The notion that they’re a bad person is mind-boggling to me. If you see them at work, make sure to look them in the eye and tell them why they’re not welcome in this end of town.”

Davenport said there is a demand for 489 affordable housing units based on market research he performed and that the last affordable housing development in Troy was in 2008.

“The average vacancy is 1.9 percent,” Davenport said. “It’s a tight market with huge demand.”

Marcus Paramore, who serves on the planning commission and also represents the district on the Troy City Council, made the motion to deny the request and explained his reasoning.

“I think almost everyone in this room lives in this neighborhood and it’s not an issue of Section 8 or affordable housing, it’s an issue of apartments,” paramour said. “Personally, I’m not in my capacity in favor of any more apartments in town.“

Davenport said there is a tight market for housing and that complexes like this are needed to provide housing for all the new jobs brought in recently.

“What I find troubling is that the city, county and state have offered incentives to Kimber and Golden Boy  and others to expand, and affordable housing is a part fo that growth,” Davenport said. “Where are those people supposed to live? If they’re not welcome in District 3, that’s unfortunate.”

Paramore said “anybody and everybody is welcome in District 3.”

Sam Green of the Planning Commission asked how they could approve the annexation with so many neighbors there to oppose it.

“I appreciate you and respect your opinions, but all of these neighbors are opposed to it,” Green said.

Davenport said he plans to move forward with the development despite the denial by running on a septic system instead of sewer. Because of this, Davenport said, the planned tree buffer will have to be removed for the septic drainage field.