Monday April 22nd, 2019 12:50PM

Clarkesville approves rezoning for proposed senior living community

By Rob Moore Reporter

CLARKESVILLE — The Clarkesville City Council has cleared the way for a project that would provide needed senior housing in the city.

During its meeting Monday night, the council voted unanimously to grant a rezoning request from developer Matt Mixon to change 1.93 acres at 278 Swain St. from R-1 Single-Family Residential to R-2 Multiple-Family Residential. The council vote was in accord with a recommendation of approval from the city's planning commission.

About two dozen people attended Monday night’s meeting, with several neighboring property owners expressing concerns publicly, but ultimately not protesting Mixon’s rezoning application.

Mixon plans to construct five single-story quadplexes for people age 62 and older that would be leased.

Mixon stressed the proposed development would not be government subsidized, would not be assisted living, and would not be a group home of any type. Instead, it would consist of one-bedroom studio units of roughly 700 to 800 square feet, as well as two-bedroom, two-bath units of about 1,150 square feet with a single garage.

A number of widows and other senior citizens have expressed a desire to see this type community housing for them as their health circumstances change, Mixon said, adding he will lease the units to occupants.

“The purpose of the project, as Matt described, is a true need in our community for an upscale retirement community, for single and couples in retirement – or widows,” Councilman Franklin Brown told AccessWDUN at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting. “We need the space. We do not have anything available.”

Most of those in attendance live in the Leland Hills neighborhood across Swain Street from the proposed development, an area already plagued by runoff and flooding.

Dr. Tom Hodges, 93, a former mayor of the city, and other residents showed photographs of rain events and resulting flooding they attribute to a lack of ditches along Swain Street and a drainage pipe that runs under Swain Street and carries water within feet of their neighborhood.

Mixon committed to work with his site planner, Bill Gresham, and with Clarkesville Zoning Administrator Caleb Gaines to ensure that the proposed development does not negatively impact Leland Hills and neighboring properties by adding to the water entering the adjoining neighborhood.

Brown said neighbors received suitable answers to their concerns Monday night.

“They were satisfied with the way it’s being addressed, and there were no objections to moving forward with the project,” Brown said. “The planning and the engineering that is going into it is first class. I feel that in handling this project properly, we can improve on problems in older projects that were not done properly.”

Even independent of the rezoning request, Leland Hills residents asked city officials to help them with water runoff that negatively impacts their property.

Mayor Barrie Aycock, who said Monday’s meeting drew the largest crowd in her several years as mayor, said the city’s new public works contractor has a pool of engineers and other specialists on staff who may be able to help the city address runoff and water concerns.

“We have access to expertise we have never had before,” Aycock told those gathered.

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