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Originally published: 2012-12-12 10:52:07
Last modified: 2012-12-12 13:57:34

Planning board endorses Clawson St. housing project

by Anna Oakes

The Boone Planning Commission on Monday unanimously recommended approval of rezoning for a 72-unit "affordable" apartment complex on Clawson Street, located off of Perkinsville Drive in Boone.

The request by property owners Wayne Clawson and Dana Clawson is to rezone 12.22 acres currently zoned R-3 Multi-Family Residential and M-H Manufactured Home Park to Conditional District R-3 Multi-Family with a site-specific plan.

The rezoning must be approved by the Boone Town Council, which will consider the request Thursday.

The vote followed a public hearing before the commission and the Boone Town Council during which the rezoning applicants and one member of the public spoke in favor of the request. No one at the public hearing spoke in opposition.

Brian Crutchfield, a town resident and former director of sustainable development at Blue Ridge Electric, urged the town to approve the request.

"We have a lot of student housing in the community both in the town and the county," Crutchfield said. "How many family-friendly apartment complexes do we have in our community? This is something that's really needed. Projects like this are rare."

Fayetteville-based United Developers plans to build a six-building affordable housing complex called Watauga Green contingent on the receipt of an affordable housing tax credit award from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

If the rezoning request is approved by the Boone Town Council, United Developers will apply for the tax credit in time for the agency's January deadline.

The developer seeks a three-year vesting period as part of the rezoning request; if United Developers does not receive a tax credit during the Housing Finance Agency's next funding cycle, the developer will try again in subsequent cycles, United Developers President Jim Smith said.

Bill Owen, senior site coordinator for United Developers, said some units would be for designated for families at up to 40 percent of the county median income, some up to 50 percent and some would be up to 60 percent.

United Developers agreed to several conditions recommended by town planning staff and the Planning Commission, including road improvements and the construction of a sidewalk to Perkinsville Drive.

The property is the former location of the Clawson Mobile Home Park, which closed in October. In August, the council rejected a rezoning request for a 266-unit project at the site, citing concerns about density, impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and too much student housing.

As part of that proposed purchase of the property, developer Mega Builders had proposed designating $4,000 in relocation assistance to each mobile home owner in the park, but the homes have now moved and the same offer is not proposed by United Developers, Wayne Clawson said.

"It was (Mega Builders') responsibility and their deal," Clawson said. "The thing that made all of the things possible with Mega is that they had the expectation of receiving a lot more in rent.

"I really regret it, and I think everyone will agree that we did everything that we could to get that to go through," he added.