Council Considers Possible $5 Million Dollar Gated Community

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – The former property occupied by Waggoner Brothers Lumbers has attracted development interest again. This time no storage units and no prospect of higher crime rates.

Alex Vence, president of Thorntree Apartments, has an option to purchase the property which would become the city’s first gated community. The apartments would rent primarily to medical school students.

However, during council’s work session , the administration revealed that the project has a favorable recommendation from the planning commission, but that ten individuals objected to the rezoning. “This is a $5 million dollar project,” Mayor Wolfe said.

Construction would be in three phases subject to demand. City Attorney Scott McClure explained the first building has nine sections.

Currently, the location is zoned industrial but has been vacant for ten years. Vence requested R-5 zoning, which allows the developer discretion on apartment types.

Council chairman Mark Bates indicated that Vence presented a powerpoint presentation to Southside residents. “The main concern is traffic flow,” Bates said.

Calling the development a “progressive” and “first class”  project, council member Steve Williams inquired about the city’s comprehensive plan.

“To approve re-zoning , state law and the city charter requires [that council] approve a change in the plan.”

McClure explained that how long property has been vacant in its current classification meets a test for re-zoning due to its long period of dormancy.

Sandra Clements asked what happens if phase two and phase three are not built?

The mayor did not remember the question having been previously asked to the developer.

Scott Caserta asked what additional uses are permitted in the R-5 classification.

City Planner James Baldwin responded townhouses, charitable offices, or non-profit ventures.

Anticipating an approval, Williams has asked that Caserta add the comprehensive plan finding to the ordinance.

This will be the first reading of the ordinance.

 Council meets at 7:30 p.m. A forum on recommendations for greater city efficiencies contained in a Marshall University research proposal precedes the meeting. It starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

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