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Monroe approves age-restricted apartments

The Monroe City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve a conditional rezoning petition to build 60 age- and income-restricted apartments at Venus Street and Sutton Place.

Brock Ventures Inc. and Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, an Ohio-based nonprofit that develops affordable housing for low-income families, sought the rezoning for the 10 wooded acres west of U.S. Highway 74.

Site plans for the property, dubbed Aaronfield at Sutton Place, feature a three-story, 61,300-square-foot apartment building and 122 surface parking spaces. Amenities will include a community room, an outside sitting area, and raised garden beds.

Rents are currently projected to range from $675 monthly for a one-bedroom unit to $795 monthly for a two-bedroom unit.

Councilwoman Surluta Anthony and Councilman Billy Jordan voted against approving the petition.

Jordan said after the meeting that he was concerned about the council approving rezoning requests for developments that involve low-income tax-credits, citing fears the properties will not be managed properly in the long run. Anthony said her decision was based on “a quality of life” issue, because she felt the proposed apartments would be in an isolated area surrounded by run-down properties. She said future residents, who would be 55 years and older, needed to move to a place where they can “get out and enjoy nature.”

“I’m not against the idea. I do believe we need more affordable housing,” she said. “But this is a safety issue.”

The developers sought the rezoning even though the property was already zoned for multifamily residential use. Monroe requires that all proposals for multifamily developments gain City Council approval before moving ahead.

The city’s Planning Board recommended approval of the petition, saying it was reasonable because other apartments are nearby and the tract has been zoned for multifamily use for at least 30 years.

The City Council’s action was the second time in recent months in which council members gave the go-ahead to affordable housing in the city. Last month, the council voted 6-1 to approve The Woda Group’s conditional rezoning request to redevelop the 6-acre site that is home to the historic Piedmont Buggy Factory with 44 age- and income-restricted apartments.

The property, on Miller Street, is adjacent to Don Griffin Park.

Site plans include surface parking for 60 cars, a picnic area, a covered patio, and raised garden beds. Residences in the main factory building would comprise one-bedroom units of about 670 square feet and two-bedroom units of more than 1,000 square feet.

The Woda Group, which has affordable, senior-housing projects in Hickory and Elizabeth City, sought a rezoning from the property’s previous general industrial designation. The Monroe Planning Board recommended the change, saying it was consistent with area plans calling for high-density residential at the site.

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