PTC planners want it in writing before vote


UPDATED print version (Tuesday, May 25, 2010) — With loose ends left to be examined, the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night postponed a vote on a rezoning proposal to build 100 senior apartments off Newgate Road in Kedron Village.

The proposal has been recommended for approval by Peachtree City interim Community Development Director David Rast, but commissioners wanted to see their concerns addressed in a proposed development agreement that has yet to be put in writing.

Developer NorSouth has said the property, adjacent to a car wash and a Holiday Inn, would be limited to persons ages 62 and up. That would be enforced by covenants on the property as well as a development agreement, NorSouth officials said.

Concerns about NorSouth’s commitment cropped up Monday night after company representatives said it previously sold all the senior apartment properties it has developed.

NorSouth Vice President Brendan Barr said the company is managing one of those properties, and the reason it divested the other senior apartments was as part of a deal to get out of the normal apartment market. Barr said the company’s sole focus now is on age-restricted apartments for seniors.

Planning Commissioner Joe Frazar said he wanted to see a commitment from NorSouth that it will be involved for the long haul, or the city should have a chance to refuse any sale or management change.

Commissioner Larry Sussberg shared Frazar’s concern.

“The concern I have about the development agreement is making sure on a couple of points that NorSouth and any future owner are held accountable that prevents another Harmony Village whether through receivership or sale,” Sussberg said.

While the tax credits that enable the apartment complex to be more affordable expire in 15 years, the typical process at that point would be to refinance the property to make improvements, Barr noted. The age restriction on the facility would remain in place, he added.

In a detailed memo to the commission, Rast laid out a number of reasons the development should be approved, including that it meshes with the city’s land use plan.

The 5.62 acre parcel is designated for multifamily use, but as currently zoned apartments are not an option. Instead, the parcel is zoned for 21 luxury senior townhomes that never materialized. The property’s land use designation is multi-family.

Since the site’s zoning already is multifamily, the moratorium on multifamily zoning requests is bypassed and does not apply, according to Rast’s memo.

Along with Rast’s recommendation are 14 conditions for the rezoning, including a requirement for NorSouth and all future property owners to follow federal age restriction and verification policies, which include the use of a photo ID listing each residents’ date of birth.

The development will be surrounded on Newgate Road by an existing hotel, car wash, convenience store and gas station, according to Rast’s memo. Those working and living at the apartments would also have convenient access to office, retail and restaurant options in the area including the immediately adjacent Kedron Village shopping center.

Rast also noted in his memo that the city’s over-65 population is projected to increase by 95 percent between 2005 and 2030.

Several City Council members have expressed hesitation over the NorSouth senior apartment project in part due to concerns the business plan might fail, leaving the apartments open to residents of all ages with government-subsidized rents.

The apartments are targeting seniors who earn no more than about $30,000 a year, and some have questioned what would happen if the company is unable to fill the complex.

The income limit is set due to a requirement of tax credits allowed for the project that are granted on the construction end to keep rents affordable. Anyone earning more than the income limit can rent one of the apartments at full market price, NorSouth officials have said.

NorSouth representatives have said they have never had a problem finding tenants for its similar properties. The company also has provided a tour of its Atlanta area developments for council members, planning commission members, city staff and the public.