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Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission approves rezoning requests

A planned Albany senior housing complex will provide 36 affordable apartment units

ALBANY — The Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission gave unanimous approval Thursday to a city of Albany rezoning request that will allow the city to move forward with the construction of 36 senior affordable housing units in East Albany.

The board voted 7-0 to allow the city to rezone property on North Broadway Street, Norfolk Lane, Railroad Street and Broadway Court from R-3 (single- and two-family residential), C-7 (mixed-use planned development) and M-1 (restricted industrial) to C-R (community residential multiple-dwelling) for development of the senior housing units.

The rezoning, city Department of Community and Economic Development Housing Program Manager Laura McCool noted, will improve the housing possibilities for a special needs group (senior citizens), provide additional affordable housing in the city, and meet a need for infill housing.

The approval includes two tracts of land, one of 4.21 acres and another of 1.562 acres, that are located on either side of an existing city-owned 24-unit apartment complex.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” McCool said of the senior housing units being located around non-senior units. “(The senior units) will have separate accessibility with their own sidewalks and will be cut into their own cul de sacs.”

The city acquired the property for the senior units a decade ago through Housing and Urban Development HOME funds and demolished existing substandard homes on the property.

The Planning Commission approved three other zoning requests at its monthly meeting, all by 7-0 votes with little or no discussion. Two of the requests came on properties located within the city limits and one in the county.

Businessman Bo Johnson sought and received rezoning of property he owns at 1203 W. Third Ave. from R-2 (single-family residential) to C-6 (transitional business). Johnson operates his Artesian Financial Group business from a home-office at 1201 W. Third and wanted rezoning for the vacant property next door so that he could provide access to the backyard of the property. One of the conditions required by the city of such transitional business properties is backyard parking only.

“I would argue that in this neighborhood, the C-6 (zoning) works in harmony with the residents,” Johnson said. “We’re there during the day, and we leave at night when the neighbors are at home.”

The board required that Johnson use the property to establish a professional office business that serves clients on the premises, that the property retain the residential character of the adjacent area, and that all parking be restricted to the rear of the property.

The Planning board also voted to allow Rodney Shumake Jr. to rezone 8.199 acres of property at 5800 Woodcliff St. from AG (agriculture) to R-2 (single-family) so that he may construct a single-family dwelling, and approved a request by Coley Musgrove LLP to rezone 6.589 acres of land at 2509-2605 W. Oakridge Drive and 826 Lockett Station Road from M-2 (heavy industrial) to R-2 (single-family). The owner wants to use the land for single-family residential development.

Planning Director Paul Forgey noted in his presentation that the Albany City Commission denied a similar rezoning request of property owned by the applicant in 2006, only to have that ruling overturned in Superior Court in 2010. The court ruled that the city’s M-2 zoning for the property was unconstitutional. Forgey noted in his presentation that no industrial development had occurred on the property since it was so designated in 1982.

All rulings made by the Planning Commission Thursday will be forwarded to the Albany City Commission as recommendations. The City Commission grants final approval.