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Affordable apartments for seniors coming to Franklin

Affordable apartments for seniors coming to Franklin

A second affordable apartment development is coming to Siler Road after the Franklin Town Council approved a special-use permit. 

The development — called Verbena and built by the development company Workforce Homestead Inc. — will be similar to the Indigo Apartments recently constructed on Siler Road, except the complex will only be for people 55 or older. The apartments will sit on a 5-acre parcel fronting Siler Road owned by James Vanderwoude. According to the special-use permit application, Verbena will include 60 one- and two-bedroom garden-style units.

“Fortunately we’ve got the example of Indigo to look at in terms of what kind of performance and product you can expect from me — the residents at Indigo seem to be pretty happy,” said developer Jim Yamin. “There’s certainly a strong need and demand for additional affordable units — we’re going to be targeting an independent living, senior population.”

The project plans include only one access point off Siler Road and only 60 parking spots — five of which will have a handicap designation — to accommodate the 60-unit building. Town Planner Justin Setser said the planning board had a long discussion on whether 60 parking spots would be adequate for the development or whether the town should require 90 parking spots.

“I recommended 90 but the board decided on 60. We talked about holidays, etc., would be an issue, but the burden (to the developer) still outweighed that,” he said. 

Councilmember Joe Collins asked if there was room for additional parking if the town made it a condition upon approving the special-use permit. 

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Yamin said there was room but that more filling and grading would be required to increase the size of the platform, which would mean steeper slopes and more cost added to the project. When building affordable housing and relying on tax credits from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, Yamin said budgeting for the project is tight. 

Yamin said the agency changed its guidelines this year to allow one parking spot per unit for affordable senior housing developments. These guidelines are used when developers plan out their development proposals for the agency to get approved for the federal tax credits. 

“It’s pretty telling they took the step to allow one spot per unit because what they find — especially for these types of developments — is there’s just not as much of a need for more parking spaces and you can avoid laying down excessive asphalt and creating more impervious surface than necessary,” Yamin said. 

Collins said he could see a problem with limited parking, especially on holidays when families have visitors. 

Town Councilmember Barbara McRae said she liked the idea of limited parking if it meant less pavement and less erosion and runoff. 

“And also the fact that this recommendation is based on so much data, it’s hard to argue with that,” she said. 

Councilmember David Culpepper said he was comfortable with 60 spots if the developer and the planning board were comfortable with that number. 

Town Engineer Nathanael Moore said he wanted the town council to consider making the construction of a utilities road a condition of granting the special-use permit. 

Just as Indigo turned its water and sewer system over to the town once construction was complete, the same process will occur when Verbena is completed. Moore said the town has 25-foot easements to be able to reach the water and sewer manholes on the property, but the area is swampy, making it difficult for the town’s utility trucks to reach the furthest manhole.

Moore said a 300-foot utility road would cost $5,000 or less to build and would help the town better serve those properties in case of a water leak or other emergency. 

“That way we can provide the services we need to provide and feel comfortable taking over the system,” he said. “We’re just asking for a route to get through the swampy area.”

Yamin said it was the first he’d heard about the access problem even though he went through the same permit process for Indigo. While it’s too late to attach anymore provisions to the Indigo project, the town council did approve the permit unanimously with the condition the town will have deeded utility road access from Verbena. 

Town council also approved a water and sewer allocation of 10,800 gallons per day for the development. 

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