By Paul T. Choate
Dec. 14, 2012. Following a unanimous recommendation by the Boone Planning Commission on Monday, the Boone Town Council voted unanimously to approve rezoning for a proposed affordable housing development on Clawson Street called “Watauga Green” during their Thursday meeting.
The Planning Commission had recommended that the Town Council vote on rezoning an approximately 12-acre tract of land where Clawson Mobile Home Park resided until closing in October. The area is currently zoned R-3 Multi-Family Residential and M-H Manufactured Home Park. It will now be rezoned to Conditional District R-3 Multi-Family.
The proposal was brought forward by United Developers (UD) of Fayetteville. James Smith, president, and Bill Owen spoke extensively to the Planning Commission on Monday regarding the proposed project, which would include 72 units among three eight-unit buildings and three 16-unit buildings. 52 of the units would be two-bedroom, the remaining 20 would be three-bedroom.
Councilwoman Lynne Mason said she was, “a very strong proponent of this project,” and introduced the two council motions that lead to the rezoning. She said she felt the project addresses a need for affordable, workforce housing in Boone and is also compatible with and does not compromise the surrounding residential areas.
The proposed complex would include a playground, one-acre park, community room with computers and internet access and washer and driers. All of the units are Energy Star certified.
Since 1979, UD has specialized in affordable housing, developing near 4,000 units in North and South Carolina, and Boone appears to be a prime location for their next investment.
A preliminary market study conducted by UD found the median household income for Watauga residents to be near $58,000. The proposed complex would be targeted at, but not limited to those making between 40 and 60 percent of that amount.
Some concern was raised regarding sidewalks, but UD committed to providing sidewalks as far as their property line. Additionally, council members committed to prioritizing extending sidewalks from the development along Perkinsville Drive to Jefferson Road — a portion of property that UD has no control over.
The next step will be to apply for a tax credit award through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, something never received in Boone or Watauga County. Without the award, plans for the complex would be scraped.
In 2011, 162 applications for this tax credit were submitted all across North Carolina and 42 were awarded. UD submitted three of their own in Cumberland, Hoke and Johnston counties. Each was approved. Smith estimated UD receives the North Carolina tax credit “75-80 percent of the time” they apply.
The application deadline for tax credit is Jan. 25, 2013. Awards will be announced in August 2013 and construction could potentially begin January 2014.
The housing project is geared toward working individuals and families, and Smith said that full-time students do not qualify for renting at the development.
- Ethan Woodhouse contributed to this article.