Council moves forward with apartment complex

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald
Though Lenoir City Council members expressed concerns allowing another low-income apartment complex into city limits, council ultimately passed a rezoning ordinance Monday to bring the complex one step closer to reality.

Council members approved rezoning property on Northside Drive, containing over five acres, from commercial to medium-density residential for an apartment complex geared to working individuals earning a lower income.

The complex would include units with a monthly rent in the $500-$675 range.

"I just don't see how we can afford any more of that type of citizens because we are going to be 100 percent (free and reduced lunch at Lenoir City Elementary) before long," Councilman Mike Henline said. "I feel like that discourages other people from moving into the community. I want somebody who is an asset to the community, not a burden to the community."

Marvin Stanley of Northside Church of God, which is located at Northside Drive, said he worried about drainage issues should a retention ditch near the church be filled in.

"I want to make sure that water is going to continue to flow because I don't like those flooding issues, plus the access road in there. Right now there are 18-wheelers coming in there and going to the Lenoir City (News-Herald) news office," Stanley said. "At this point in time, they are cutting on our parking lot to make that corner up there at that intersection. How are we going to address these issues?"

Tab Bullard of Zimmerman Properties encouraged council members to pass the second and final reading at Monday's regularly scheduled meeting, saying the complex would generate $7.6 million in development costs and $65,000 a year in taxes.

"We are not targeting persons who will be living here essentially on section 8 vouchers or anything of that nature," Bullard said, adding residents would be screened and must have a job to live at the complex.

Residents must make between $20,000 and $37,000 a year to qualify, Bullard said.

"Our experience in the past with these type of facilities is it got kind of a bad taste in our mouth," Henline said, adding he has concerns with traffic at Highway 321 and Northside Drive.

"We're still looking for people who are working. You're talking about multiple people. It can be from teachers in your school to first-, two-, three-year firemen and policemen. People of that nature will probably qualify on your income restrictions to live in this facility where otherwise they might be living in something a lot less substandard," Michael Osbourn, principal professional engineer with Kaw Valley Engineering Inc., said. "The whole basis of this program is to provide housing that is of a market-rate quality but at a slightly lower rent structure for those who are starting out in life."

In other business, council:

* Adopted a resolution to terminate Home Federal Bank as the existing trustee and NFS as the custodian of the city’s retirement plans and appoint Reliance Trust Services as the city's trustee and custodian. Steve Harrelson, representing the city’s retirement committee, said the switch will save $6,500 in annual fees.

* Authorized City Administrator Dale Hurst to send a letter of commitment of matching funds for a Clean Energy Grant. The $250,000 grant, if awarded, would be used to renovate the War Memorial Building.