Planning Commisson Recommends Denial of Affordable Senior Housing Complex

The city's restriction on how much rental housing can be in the city prevents approval, though planning commissioners want senior housing issues addressed.

An application to build a seniors only, affordable apartment complex along Webb Bridge Road next to GA 400 was recommended for denial by the Alpharetta Planning Commission Thursday night based on the city's limit of 15 percent rental units compared to 85 percent for sale residential homes.

Planning commissioners want the whole issue of affordable senior housing addressed by City Council, but worried about the consequences of setting a precedence on this application.

The applicant, however, was restricted by a state timetable that allows applications for the funding method through tax credits only at one time a year, starting on June 23.

That put planning commissioners in a bind, some of whom would rather have tabled the application until City Council addressed the big issue, allowing this application to possibly fall under new rules. At present, annexations have pushed the city's rental housing as 34 percent of the total number of housing units.

"If they had more time, I could have made a motion to table it until our next meeting," said Francis Kung'u, who made the motion to recommend denial. By making any recommendation, the application will be put on City Council's June 20 agenda.

That the project even came before the Planning Commission is a testament to Dorothy Benson, who helped form the committee, Fulton County Strategies for Healthier Community. About 10 years ago when it formed they were asked to pick a project.

"After looking around, seeing what seniors really need, we came up with housing was the most important thing," Benson said.

Colin Edelstein of Atlas Development said Benson was the reason his company came to Alpharetta.

Benson brought a busload of seniors to the meeting, and others made their own way. Some wanted their independence so they don't have to live with family members. Others would sell their homes and move into affordable senior housing, if there was any available in Alpharetta.

Harriett Schaefer said she's hoping to find affordable housing.

"I live with my son in law, you can imagine what that is like," she said.

Her daughter, Rochelle Cox, said her mother can't afford to live by herself.

"So I'm for this, it will get her out of my house. She is young, she's 69, so she's got a long time to live there," Cox said.

Problems identified by Community Development Director Diana Wheeler with the application included:

  1. The property is developable under its current zoning for office which, which may have greater demand in the future.
  2. The proposed 90 units would have been 13.6 units per acre, higher than anything the city normally allows.
  3. The location is not within a walkable community and does not have immediate access to public transportation.
  4. The apartment use would not be allowed under the city's comprehensive plan limits on rental property.

"If I was going to utilize one of these units, the last thing I'd want to do is get in a car and drive. I'd rather be somewhere where I can walk in a small community to go to restaurants, grocery store," Tomy said.

Benson said Fulton County started its DART bus service a few months ago. Seniors can call to be picked up at their door for trips ranging from doctor's appointments to grocery shopping.

"A lot of us do drive," she said.

Attorney Don Rolader, representing the developer, told the Planning Commission to consider the plan as a 66-unit development, which fits the maximum 10 units per acre density, answering another one of the problems.

"More than two thirds of seniors depend on Social Security," Benson said. "That number would be considered in the poverty level. This is really something that is needed."

Parc Alpharetta has set aside 20 percent of its units as affordable senior housing, but Benson said the monthly rent is higher at $800 to $850, "not quite affordable as we want." All of those units are full, and there's a waiting list, she said.

"The only way that you can get one now is if somebody dies. We don't want to be sitting here wishing somebody dies so that we can get an apartment," Benson said.

Paul Barrow of Alpharetta was one of only two speakers who brought concerns to the Planning Commission. He wanted to know what guarantees does the city have on the developer's commitment to keeping the senior housing complex operating.

Edelstein said the tax credit has requirements, including keeping the facility as affordable senior housing for 30 years. It would be age restricted to those 62 and older.

Tom Miller, another Alpharetta resident, questioned the location near a major highway and a data center, and far from any church, synagogue or shopping.

"Perhaps it's a poor location and our seniors deserve better," Miller said.

He wanted guarantees by the developer that the proposed amenities for the complex would be provided.

"We all know about developer's promises, and they are worthless if they aren't in conditions," he said.

Edelstein said he'd agree to having the full list of amenities, which includes an indoor pool and fitness center, in the conditions.

Planning Commissioner Kyle Caswell said the rental vs. for sale residential property ratios suggest that any apartment development would have to wait at least 20 years to be built.

"The rations seem to indicated 21,000 new homes need to be built before any apartments for rent can be built," said Caswell.

Wheeler agreed that those projected figures are approximations of what might become true.

"I just want to be clear, for some people, maybe not even in their lifetimes, an apartment might not be built in their city within these years," Caswell said.

Just Deb June 04, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Sometimes restrictions, covenants, laws of convenience become a detriment to the health of a community. Alpharetta is getting really hard to live in. Well, unless you are young and work for a tech company. This city does not value it's older citizens. I am approaching this time in my life. I have looked around Alpharetta for options and there are few to none. I am beginning to see that Alpharetta does not want seniors living here. I believe it's a matter of tax revenues. More money from the tech workers. Simple as that. Very sad that my retirement plans will not include Alpharetta. I do enjoy living here but as I get older I cannot live in a city that will not offer a hand to the older folks.
Dee June 04, 2011 at 08:24 PM
If it requires an exception to have affordable housing for seniors, then exceptions should definitely be made. The 34% rental requirement is a false issue if it is being used to prevent affordable senior housing. However, such housing DOES need to be near public transportation and, while a park-like setting would be ideal, shopping (e.g., grocery, pharmacy) should be within walking distance. The only real question this issue raises for me is, does Alpharetta care about its seniors? It definitely should.
Patti Silva June 04, 2011 at 10:13 PM
I cannot imagine that the community of Alpharetta would not embrace the idea of affordable housing for the very people who made Alpharetta and still reside here. Perhaps many of those families stay in their homes, but I do know of one woman who has been an integral part of the community, she was born and raised and has lived her entire life in Alpharetta (until now), she is extremely close to city hall personnel and council I suppose, she is is overly active even if she is considered elderly. Surely, if the City of Alpharetta were to ever read this comment, they will know who I am talking about. She must live in the City of Roswell but she wants so badly to live in her HOMETOWN of Alpharetta!!! I am certain, if not overly optomistic, that the City of Alpharetta is not done and they will come through for these folks. Please.
KELLI June 05, 2011 at 03:56 AM
If the proposed SENIOR only housing are rentals - and I can only assume it is since the article did not specifically state that fact, why would they be lumped in with other rentals? After-all according to statistics the Senior population (baby boomers) out number all other groups - so therefore - so should housing for them also out number rentals for other groups. . . That's just plain common sense, or don't the 'deciders' have any of that commodity?
KELLI June 05, 2011 at 04:07 AM
It isn't only Alpharetta with the problem of a lack of AFFORDABLE Senior housing.... it's all over the Norther parts of Georgia from what I have seen. Just an example of how badly it is needed I can give an example of Canton, GA where a Senior development was being built and I believe the Units were all spoken for way before the complex was finished being built !!! It is shameful how inadequate the housing is for Seniors in Georgia. . . . Shall they be forced to live under bridges?
cathy June 05, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Affordable senior housing is needed in Alpharetta and all of North Fulton and it is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. We have an aging population whose needs must be addressed. Long range planning is important but not if it can't be changed as the needs of the community change.
Just Deb June 23, 2011 at 10:02 AM
If Alpharetta VALUES Seniors then make me know it! I haven't seen anything that convinces me that Alpharetta is caring and thoughtful about their aging population. As far as the comment "There is no Ted Dixon in Alpharetta" What the H***? Does it matter if someone posts under an assumed name. Geez, stick with the issues. The issue is that Alpharetta wants to be rid of seniors so more younger people can move in and the city can 'hopefully' have more revenue. I already have enough trouble and as I get older I will be forced out of this city. But, if it does come to that, I will leave the city with a foreclosed property. That's how disgusted I am. I will remember in the next election. Everyone gets the boot. Time to start over and reset the city.
Windward voter June 23, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Do a Yahoo search of 'Agenda 21' of the U.N. and how some local municipalities are backdooring it through their 'green' initiatives and zoning changes. This treaty has not been ratified by the U. S. Congress. You can also find articles about it on 'theblaze' and 'canadafreepress' websites.
Just Deb June 23, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Yes, you are absolutely right. I have just started digging in to Agenda 21 and BO's new 'Rural Council'. It's all a sham but is being shoved down to the local governments that buy in to the propaganda. I wish more folks were aware of what is really going on under the guise of 'green' initiatives.
Travis Allen June 23, 2011 at 05:11 PM
John, why do you assume that Ted Dixon has to be from Alpharetta? I live in Milton, but you probably won't find me listed.
Al Johnson June 23, 2011 at 06:41 PM
I have known Ted very well for 33 years, he is married to my sister. In fact he is the one who told me about this web sight. I hope readers can see why the voters elected Mr Paine instead.
Al Johnson June 24, 2011 at 02:21 AM
To Mr John Monson, I don’t think anyone owes you a phone call when attacks are made against people. To belittle a man saying he doesn’t exist when he obviously does is un called for. Where my kin lives is none of your business, but he has lived in what is now Milton city for almost ninety years, and his mother did for more than a hundred, no wonder he doesn’t show up on the Alpharetta voter list. I believe you made a incorrect assumption, this lack of judgement could be a reason you were defeated by such a majority in your election. Ted has his opinions and I might not have gone along but I now agree. I DO live in Alph., GA and I am a registered (senior) voter and I am thanking the Lord Jim Paine won the council election, he is a true gentleman (unlike what we’ve seen here.) Ted served our country with honor in WWII and was wounded twice, by lashing out at him you disgrace yourself.
Just Deb June 24, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Can we stick to the issue and just focus on holding the council's feet to the fire. We have to make sure Agenda 21 is not sneaking in to Alpharetta and we need proof that Seniors are truly valued and will be treated with respect. Will Seniors have the same options and opportunities as the young tech workers. Or will Alpharetta kick Seniors to the curb in order to make room for the younger folks. I think the latter will be true.
Jim in Alpharetta June 24, 2011 at 02:03 PM
To the World War 2 vet I say thank you for being part of the greatest generation. We all owe you a debt of gratitude as Americans. To the others I say you are better off not to engage with the former councilman. It's pointless, like trying to have a contructive conversation with R.J. Kurey! In the last election the voters elected Jim Paine, a senior citizen (sorry Jim!) by a margin of two to one. I think that says everything about what the community thinks. Seniors will be glad when Jim becomes Mayor.
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com June 24, 2011 at 07:09 PM
This is a great thread. Allow me to throw in my two cents... People outside the political limits of Alpharetta often have opinions on city politics. I should know, I routinely write about city politics on my blog, and I live in extreme south Forsyth. I fully expect to be on the receiving end on a tongue lashing like this one day. In the meantime, it would be wise to consider all opinions, even if they won't likely be a voter of yours. If you want to discount what non-residents have to say, fine but I suggest keeping it to yourself. Second, I continue to be amazed at how some politicians come across online. It isn't just Monson, there are others. Be careful of how your words are taken in forums like this. Remember that the internet is forever. Third, I happen to agree with the city on this particular issue and holding firm to the apartment ratio rule. I wish they would push back on condo density in a similar manner.
Just Deb June 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Thank you for cleaning up this thread. The issue at hand is too important to be clouded by a flame war. Can we talk about our city and what's happening? Can we offer up suggestions that will keep Alpharetta flourishing? Can we hold the commission to the fire and purge any 'green' indoctrination that may be going on?
Windward voter June 27, 2011 at 01:23 PM
RE: 'green indoctrination' As reported by 'The Blaze' and 'Canada Free Press' websites, among others, in some cases the 'green indoctrination' is being driven by the U.N. through their 'Agenda 21' via backdoor organizations like 'Local Governments for Sustainability' (their link can be found on Alpharetta's Green Community page; Agenda 21 can be found on the U.N.'s website. Agenda 21 has not been ratified by the U.S. Congress). The U.N. mandate addresses transportation, zoning, density, private property rights, population, etc. Check it out. Not saying Alpharetta staff or council members are intentionally or knowingly participating in the U.N.'s agenda, they most likely aren't aware of it. Glad you raised the indoctrination issue because it is a concern. I don't like how Alpharetta seems to be turning into a European-American city (the roundabout at Douglas and Southlake; info-gathering chips in the recycling bins). Maybe it's time to form a PAC - Alpharettans for Responsible Government - or something.
Just Deb June 27, 2011 at 03:37 PM
I think, what needs to be done first, is to make sure everyone is aware and understands Agenda 21. I have posted about this with some detailed information and have two full documents available for download. You can go here and peruse the information. http://makingofahome.blogspot.com/ Not to take away from the issue of this article but I think it all goes hand in hand. The sad thing is that some people in our local government may think they are doing a good thing. They may be completely in the dark.
No Name June 28, 2011 at 09:12 AM
@ Windward Voter Most of Alpharetta staff and Council are probably ignorant of this, with the exception of Councilman Owens who did have it proudly plastered all over his campaign cards. Unfortunately most of Council seem to stay at the politically expedient level of things rather than being versed in philosophical principles. None of that matters though if their actions are leading us to the same dark place. Start a group. Start a blog. Educate one person at a time.
Just Deb June 28, 2011 at 09:53 AM
No Name, I posted the link to my blog which has both documents available for download. Also, I have information and details regarding the 'green' disaster.
Windward voter June 29, 2011 at 05:29 PM
No Name Good idea about a blog. Don't know much about the hows but will try to start one and make available documents re: Agenda 21 like Deb. Deb, thanks for the link to your blog. I'll check it out.
Just Deb June 29, 2011 at 05:34 PM
You are welcome. I always say if you want the truth you have to find the original documentation. Summaries and news stories, as we all know, are not 100% truthful and without bias. A blog would be a good idea but I would suggest something like a Facebook group that would easy to setup and available to more folks. It would also allow participation by all. What do you think?
Just Deb June 30, 2011 at 09:17 AM
Well, we could have a couple of places and see what attracts the most involvement and traffic. We could also think of something like a Wiki that would allow folks to be involved and contribute. Just trying to think of a way that people could interact with others. But, I'm open to all suggestions. I think we have to try something.
Windward voter July 01, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Agree we need to put something together and I'll look into the Facebook idea. I've not done social networking so this is another new area for me. Deb, your blog is awesome. Once I get mine up, rather than re-invent the wheel, I'd like to have a link to yours as it is basically a primer on Agenda 21 and I can't imagine what else I could add. Since you have that topic pretty well covered, I thought I might focus on a different area.
Just Deb July 01, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Thanks! Sure you can link to my blog any time. :-) Let me know what area you would like to cover. I tend to hit on things that really fire me up and the older I get the more passionate I am about certain issues. Also, once you are on Facebook and anyone else that wants to join in, Look me up on Facebook and shoot me a message that way we can connect in addition to this article thread.


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