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Affordable housing proposal fails to garner support
LA VERNIA -- The developer of a proposed affordable housing complex for La Vernia plans to resubmit the proposal at a future date, after failing to obtain support from the La Vernia City Council in a Feb. 20 special called meeting.
Gary Hammond, co-founder of and principal in Bridgeland Development LLC, responded to the matter’s failure before the council.
“We will not be able to submit [our application to the state] this year,” Hammond said. “We plan to resubmit next year and will hold onto the property.”
A resolution regarding the proposed development was the sole item on the agenda, and it died for lack of a motion, according to City Secretary/Treasurer Angela Cantu after the meeting.
The development is proposed for a 5-acre tract adjacent to Country Care Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation on F.M. 775, just outside the city limits. Bridgeland Development representative Robbye Meyer had outlined during the Feb. 13 city council meeting that, along with affordable housing, the complex would offer amenities such as a pool and laundry facilities, along with services to its residents, such as notary services, tax preparation assistance, and more; prospective residents would be subject to a full screening process.
This proposal was not a “Section 8” development, Meyer had explained, which subsidizes rent for the residents. Instead, investment assistance is sought at the development stage, to make the housing affordable once built.
According to Meyer, the developer’s application to the state for investment funds -- due to the state by Feb. 28 -- required a resolution of support from the city in order to be successful.
No “citizens to be heard” item was listed; however, community and business members attending were asked to share comments with city council members Marie Gerlich, Randy Leonard, John Richter, Eloi Cormier, and Jennifer Moczygemba, along with Mayor Robert Gregory.
Cantu said Finch Funeral Chapels owner Troy Finch expressed concerns about traffic and the possible effects of the development on property values.
Similar issues were expressed by former Mayor Harold Schott and Nick Fryer, while Stephanie Afflerbach said she wanted to know more about the project to form an informed opinion.
“It’s an exceptional community with a great demand for the type of housing and ranges of rent we propose,” Hammond said after the meeting. “We just didn’t have time to convince everyone what a great development this will be.”
Hammond said his company will continue to work with the city in order to provide information, answer questions, and gain support for the proposed development.
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