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P&Z recommends annexing Felder property

AMERICUS — The City of Americus Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend annexation of property on Felder Street for a new housing development.

Property owner Randy Jones and Mandy Young, a representative of the developer, Maco Development Co., came before the commission to answer questions about the proposed housing project. The meeting had been advertised by the City as a public hearing, but was a meeting. A public hearing will be held on the matter at the regular meeting of the Americus Mayor and Council at 5 p.m. March 19 in the Nursing Building auditorium at Georgia Southwestern State University.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the request for annexation came from Affordable Equity Partners. The property is already zoned R-3 multi-family residential.

Jones told the commission that if the property is not annexed into the City, residents of the new development will pay about twice the normal amount for City services. Of the 31.07 acres, the request is to annex 11.98 acres for the development.

Young said the development will be 64 units of one-, two- and three-bedrooms as well as a clubhouse, fitness center and community building with a projected cost of about $10 million. She said the development would make a $1.3 million impact on the local economy and add $225,000 a year to the City’s tax revenues. She also said there will be “very strict resident selection criteria” such as proof that income it three times the amount of monthly rent, a criminal background check, and favorable credit rating.

The development will be built with federal tax credits. Young said the credits represent a reduction in the loan amount to the developer, and not a subsidy to the occupants’ rent. The length of time is 20 years, she said, and the property can never be turned into government property.

Jones commented that with the federal tax credits means those dollars don’t go to Washington, D.C., but stay in Americus.

Ben Andrews, community development director for the City, in answer to a question, said income levels are determined by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). He said the proposed housing development will be for low to moderate income and low income residents.

“There can’t be more than six total people in one unit,” Young said, “and that requires an income of around $45,000. We are not accepting any Section 8 and applicants must have 50 percent positive financial credit rating.” She also said that each unit represents about $600 per year in City taxes and the development will create three full-time jobs.

The proposed development will be located 350 feet from the roadway and will include another 450 feet from the rear of the building, according to Jones. He said that concerns about fire trucks being able to get into the area will require reconfiguring a couple of the buildings.

Commission member Kim Egelseer asked if tax credits were not involved, would the developer still build it?

Young replied, “No, it wouldn’t be feasible.”

Ben Andrews added, “this is land that the City never got tax funds on.”

Young said the developer is looking at “large college towns” now but Commission Chair Cal Anderson said college students will be ineligible for this new housing.

“But if they’re working too, they will be,” Young said.

Egelseer asked if there is a need for new housing based on supply and demand.

Josh Roth, with the City, explained that based on a housing study conducted recently by River Valley Development Center, Americus doesn’t have enough of “these type housing” available.

“People will rent and migrate from dilapidated properties,” he said.

Young said, citing a recent story in the Times-Recorder about low pay for police officers here, that most officers would qualify for residence. Andrews said it would help attract more developers. Roth said annexation will cost the City nothing except for the sewage hookups, etc. Anderson said the roads would “probably be maintained by the property owner.”

Egelseer said there is a perception that more low-income housing is being built to bring more people here, “but it’s really people upgrading their habitats.”

The motion to recommend annexation was made by Karl Wilson and seconded by Albert Cooper. It passed unanimously.