Hundreds convince Monroe Co. P&Z to decline proposed low-income apartments

More than 100 Monroe County residents showed up a to a planning and zoning board meeting to voice their concerns about a new apartment complex that could be built just over the county line, near Bass Pro Shops and ACE in north Macon/Evan Watson (WGXA)

MONROE COUNTY, Ga. -- The Monroe County Planning and Zoning board unanimously turned down a proposal to rezone property for a new apartment complex.

The board listened to many complaints about the proposed low-income housing complex that would potentially be located just over the county line, near Bass Pro Shops and the Academy for Classical Education (ACE) in north Macon.

"Don't want it, don't want it, don't want it," said Stuart Hammock.

About a dozen people among more than 100 who showed up talked about their concerns for the project, including worries that the new apartments would negatively affect existing residents' homes and surrounding neighborhoods.

"Because it doesn't match the existing area, it doesn't complement it, it doesn't enhance it in any way nor does it meet any known need for district three and Monroe County," said resident Allen Little.

Some homeowners believe their property values would decrease and that the apartment complex would encourage traffic and crime to rise.

Others asked what the economic benefits would be for the county and wanted to know if the new residents would pay sales tax in Bibb County, rather than Monroe County because of its proximity to the Shoppes at River Crossing.

There were also residents who said they'd prefer to keep the area as quiet and calm as possible and believe that more development would cause too much activity in the area.

Jordan Whiteside, a representative for Vantage Development, LLC, presented twice to the crowd and the planning and zoning board about why the company is hoping to build the apartment complex on that lot.

She said they're only planning to use six of the 19 acres on the lot and keep the proposed apartments as close to the road and as far away from the existing homes as possible. Whiteside explained that tax credit developments through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs allows groups to apply for funding and credit to build income-assisted housing.

Whiteside added that since the land is currently zone as commercial, businesses or duplexes could be installed there. However, Vantage Development, LLC hoped to rezone the lot for multi-family breezeway-style buildings.

She also told those at the meeting that the new development would bring more property taxes to Monroe County and said it was an attractive area for them to develop based on the existing developments and schools nearby.

Many in the crowd expressed concern that the new complex would be section eight housing. Whiteside said it's not designed for section eight housing specifically, although the apartments would be legally required to accept section eight residents.

"I would urge all of you to buy a piece of land in Bibb County because they love to do low-income housing. And that's why people are leaving Bibb County," Stuart Hammock added.

The board's decision to vote down the rezoning proposal means it'll go to the Monroe County commission, which will have the final say on the project on May 1.

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