Snellville council hashing out senior living specifics

SNELLVILLE - Just as several other county and state municipalities are doing, Snellville is in the process of creating its first-ever senior community zoning designation. But the issue Monday night was not as cut-and-dried as many thought it should be.

Rather than considering the senior community zoning as one topic covered under one umbrella, several City Council members believed the available housing options should be considered individually. Therefore, an alternate amendment to the city zoning ordinance was presented to residents Monday night.

Kelly Kautz, the city's newest council member, spearheaded the effort to consider single-story senior housing first. Since the changes to the original amendment were not advertised in time to hold a public hearing and to allow council to take action, all that could be done Monday night was to listen to residents' comments and council discussion.

Marcy Pharris, a resident of Snellville, expressed her confusion about basically having two amendments presented at the City Council meeting. Pharris said she went to the meeting expecting to discuss one amendment and instead was shown two that differ slightly. Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer commented that he and City Manager Jeff Timler had only seen the newest amendment on Nov. 17, agreeing he found the issue confusing.

According to councilman Warren Auld, who assisted Kautz with the late-coming changes, the newest amendment verbiage was created so that single-story senior housing could be considered separately from multi-story housing.

Councilman Robert Jenkins said the senior community zoning is a specific designation geared toward a specific population with specific needs.

"There are three considerations here - seniors who have maybe gotten a chance to retire early and are still very active; seniors who don't want to maintain a yard and can't be outside but can still keep up their homes and cook for themselves; and seniors who require constant care. We thought it would be easier to handle single-story senior housing first, since it's less complicated."

Aside from the apparent confusion over what exactly was being considered Monday night, residents voiced concerns about specific points in the "Single Story Active Adult Oriented Residential District" amendment. Dennis Lawton, a Snellville resident who served on the city planning commission in the past, said he thought the square footage minimums were too low - 1,000 and 1,200 square feet.

Lawton also expressed concern about a possible affordable housing bonus, basing the selling price of a set percentage of units on what the local population could afford based on DCA and ARC recommendations. A real estate appraiser by trade, Lawton said that disparate pricing within a community could affect property values of all the homes in the community.

Both Lawton and Pharris said it was confusing to pass the zoning ordinance amendment piecemeal.

Officials decided to hold a special-called meeting on Dec. 18 for another public hearing on the matter and to take action on the zoning ordinance amendment.

Wal-Mart honored for community contributions

Snellville police Chief Roy Whitehead recognized Snellville Wal-Mart and its new manager Rick Lock for their valuable contributions to the city. The retail giant recently awarded $2,500 to the police department for equipment and serves as the annual location for "shop with a cop," a program in which local officers take underprivileged children Christmas shopping. Whitehead presented Lock with a framed certificate of thanks and recognition.

City to apply for park funds

Council members voted unanimously Monday night to pass a resolution enabling the city to apply for a DNR grant to help fund the building of a passive park at 1925 Oak Road. The DNR Recreational Trails Program will fund 80 percent of the eligible expenses in building such a park if the grant is awarded.