Conditional use granted for proposed apartment project

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

Another apartment complex is being proposed for land adjacent to the town limits on Johnson Ridge Road, and a conditional use permit for multi-family use was granted at the Elkin Board of Commissioners meeting last Monday.

While the property, which is part of the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and subject to the town’s zoning ordinances, and proposed use were determined to meet all of the requirements for the conditional use, town commissioners seeking more information about whether the apartments would be income restricted like two other recent apartment complexes were not able to get the answers they wanted.

The public hearing held on the conditional use of the property was a quasi-judicial hearing, which meant everyone giving testimony had to be sworn in under oath and any testimony had to be factual and not hearsay.

George Crater, planning director for the town, said the adjacent property owners had been contacted about the public hearing and project, and he received three calls from those property owners, with them being interested in what the project was about, but not opposing to the project.

The apartment complex is proposed to have 48 units, and the developer, Fred G. Mills, has built other complexes around the state, according to a representative from his company who spoke during the hearing.

If the plan moves forward to construct the complex, he said a full-time manager as well as a paid maintenance employee will be employed at the facility. The project includes six buildings, one being a community building to include a computer room, meeting room, playground, grills and gazebos, and the other five for apartments.

It was explained during the hearing by the developer’s attorney as well as the town attorney that the rates for rent and any income related topics could not be discussed because they didn’t affect whether the project met the conditional use requirements.

The need for more apartments and rental properties in Elkin has been a concern brought up by commissioners and town officials, but they are most concern with the need for more upscale apartments where young professionals and retired residents can move, where the people at those rates of pay do not qualify for the limited income properties.

“I worry that what’s being talked about, if we have one more property that is income limited it will be one more than what Mount Airy has,” said Commissioner Cicely McCulloch.

Mayor Sam Bishop also mentioned the town’s desire for places for young professionals to live.

Town Attorney Raymond “Scooter” Parker reminded them that the project is a private development on private property.

A recent study, noted the developer, showed there is a need for 950 units in the Elkin area. “There is no doubt of the need,” he said.

The developer indicated a desire to seek voluntary annexation if the project moves forward as well.

Since the public hearing and conditional use request was about land use and not economic issues, the town commissioners moved forward to answer the necessary questions required to be answered in determining whether the project meets the conditions for the permit, which they unanimously found it did.

Crater mentioned the developers would now wait to see if the project is approved by the state.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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