- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—A large crowd is expected today when the Decatur Board of Zoning Adjustments considers a local developer’s plans for a $7.8 million gated apartment complex to be located between Auburn Drive Southwest and Old Moulton Road.

In June, the board delayed consideration of developer Danny Hill’s plans for two phases of 48 units each after almost 50 residents from the neighboring subdivisions in this Southwest Decatur neighborhood showed up to protest.

Residents from the subdivisions presented petitions with more than 350 names of people opposing the complex.

The meeting starts at 4 p.m. in the City Council chambers at Decatur City Hall.

“I’ve thought about it and I’ve prayed about it, and I don’t think I’m wrong,” Hill said Monday. “I’m going to press forward with this project because I think it’s a good thing for the community.”

In deciding on whether to grant Hill’s request for use on appeal, BOZA must choose between meeting Decatur’s need for upscale apartments and holding to the development’s original plans, which were to build upscale homes on the property as an additional phase of City View subdivision.

City View spokesman Nyle DiGirolamo said the 77 homeowners in his subdivision bought their homes with the expectation that $300,000 to $400,000 homes would be built on the property.

DiGirolamo said they fear an apartment complex would hurt their homes’ values.

He said some residents lost potential customers to purchase their homes after news leaked of the possible apartment complex.

Lakepoint subdivision resident Bill Mansell and City View resident Tab Bowling said they fear for the long-term future of an apartment complex.

“My concern is not for right now because the apartments will be nice,” Mansell said. “My concern is five or 10 years from now. Are they going to be fit to live in? The history of apartments is they start out real nice and then they run down with age.”

Bowling said his neighbors believe Hill’s complex will begin to deteriorate and eventually they will become Section 8 subsidized housing with crime issues such as at the townhomes on Gaslight Place and Brookline Avenue Southwest.

Gaslight and Brookline are on the east side of City View.

Hill said residents in the neighboring subdivisions “just don’t grasp what I’m trying to do,” because there’s not another similar apartment complex in Decatur.

He suggested looking at gated apartment complexes in Madison, Nashville and Birmingham if they want to make comparisons.

“This development will be just as high scale as what they’re living in,” Hill said. “I really wish they were named something besides an apartment. This development won’t hurt the property values of anything around it.”

Hill said the cost of building or buying the apartments would make it almost impossible to lower the rent, which will be between $900 and $1,000 a month, to a level that would allow it to receive Section 8 subsidies.

“The owner would go upside-down real fast,” Hill said.

Bowling said he’s optimistic BOZA will reject the apartment complex, but he’s worried the city’s desire for upscale apartments is playing against the subdivisions’ efforts to stop the development.

The opposition did get a boost when City Councilman Chuck Ard spoke out against the complex.

Ard said the city has plenty of multi-family zoning districts for apartments, so it’s not necessary to allow Hill’s development on property previously planned for upscale homes.

Hill, a Decatur native, said he believes the city needs his development.

“If this town doesn’t do something soon, we’re going to die on the vine,” Hill said. “We can build all of the commercial, retail and restaurants we want, but we’ve got to do something to bring in more people.”


(c)2015 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

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