The Northwest Georgia Housing Authority’s plans to transform the housing stock in East Rome hit a snag Monday with a “no” vote from the Rome Floyd Planning Commission.
The citizen board voted 4 to 2 to recommend denial of the authority’s request to build a duplex at 1312 and 1314 Maple Ave., at the corner of Holder Street.
The property is zoned for High Density Traditional Residential Development and a special-use permit is needed for anything other than a single-family home.
The Rome City Commission is slated to make the final decision following a public hearing at its July 8 meeting.
Housing Authority Executive Director Sandra Hudson said a $460,000 federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant is funding construction of the duplex and a second one at 303 E. 14th St. The NWGHA already has razed the vacant, derelict homes on the sites.
“We have to have these built and leased by the end of September or we will loose every penny of that money,” Hudson said.
Planning Commission members approved the SUP for the duplex on East 14th Street in a 5 to 1 vote. Chairman Anthony McClain said the two projects are very different because the Maple Street homes would front on a high-traffic corridor.
“I’ve gone along with it in the past ... (but) it’s dangerous,” McClain said. “If access was on Holder it’s possible I would have voted differently, but I don’t think so.”
Planning Commission member Steve Miller voted against both duplexes, saying the property should be rezoned for multi-family residences instead. However, Planning Director Art Newell said the lots aren’t large enough for the designation.
Hudson said the two duplexes would be one-bedroom units for “mainstream” Section 8 recipients without children. They’re elderly or people with mental health issues who need to be on Maple to catch the bus, she said.
“We have hundreds of people on our waiting list ... The majority of our one-bedroom applicants are homeless,” Hudson said.
Planning Commission members Logan Boss and Ghee Wilson also voted against the Maple Street project. Members Tom Bennett and Charles Love were in favor.
Bennett tried to call for a reconsideration after it was clear no children would be living in the homes. However, none of the “no” voters backed the move.
Love argued unsuccessfully of the need for affordable housing in Rome, but a majority indicated that – while they support the NWGHA’s initiative – they want to maintain standards for future development.