Effingham County commissioners took the first steps to two possible housing developments, including one reserved for seniors, at their meeting last week.
Commissioners approved by a 4-1 vote to send a letter of support to the state Department of Community Affairs for a 60-unit development reserved for senior citizens and another project designed for families with low to moderate incomes.
Woda, out of Westerville, Ohio, wants to build a 60-unit development for those 55 years old and older called Woda Cypress Village. They also intend to build a 50-unit development, Woda Windfield Greene, for working families.
“We chose Effingham County because we know there is a desire for families to move from Chatham County into Effingham County,” said Craig Patterson, vice president for development of The Woda Group.
County Attorney Eric Gotwalt issued his concern that the letter of support would be seen as approval of a rezoning application even before one had been reviewed.
“I see no reason for us to commit to a project before we have the formal application,” he said.
Crawley acknowledged the request was unusual but said there could be a way to word the letter of support to the DCA that backed the idea without giving tacit approval. The letter of support is needed, Patterson said, in order to be eligible for federal and state funds, backed by bonds, for the project.
County staff has identified a significant need for a seniors-only living development, Crawley said.
The development would be competing with other projects for the financial help.
Beginning in 1986, the federal government began to address a housing shortage for seniors and working families, Patterson said. Through a bond allocation process, the state is eligible for $80 per capita, or $706 million for projects ranging from industrial development to multi-family housing.
According to the DCA, to receive an allocation, the local issuing authorities must approve the project, hold a public hearing, have local government approval, and general financing in place. Economic development projects must commit to create or retain one job for every $125,000 of financing. Multi-family housing projects must demonstrate that a minimum number of units will be set aside for low to moderate income families and single-family proposals must demonstrate the ability to turn allocations into cost-effective mortgages for first-time low and moderate income home buyers.
“In concept, we think it would be good,” Patterson said. “This is not subsidized housing, but it is targeted for working families and for seniors.”
“I can see where this would attract a lot of folks and bring in a lot of school-age children,” Commissioner Hubert Sapp said.
Patterson said everyone who rents one of the townhomes in Windfield Greene will have a job.
“We screen for that,” he said.
There also is an income limit for the developments, and there is a minimum and a maximum for applicants.
“The DCA doesn’t want this type of housing for people who can afford the market rates,” Patterson said.
At Cypress Village, 36 of the 50 units will be one or two bedrooms and 14 will be two-bedroom units with a den. The 60 units at Windfield Greene are slated to have three or four bedrooms.
The site, projected to go along Goshen Road, would be a $6 million buildout, according to Patterson.
Woda has 4,000 units in 100 communities in six states, Patterson said.
“We are very aggressive on management,” he added.
The projects would not be exempt from property taxes or impact fees, Crawley said.