A property in Harlem could be rezoned for apartments. It’s up to Harlem City Council to decide whether to approve the application.
The developers who want to build the apartment complex are describing it as “workforce housing” for families who are starting out. Also, a portion of the apartments will be specifically geared for Veterans and military. But some neighbors aren’t excited about the idea of a new apartment complex going up in their small town.
It’s a plan that some in the City of Harlem want to put a stop to, the rezoning application for more than 100 apartments on Appling-Harlem Road.
“The transiency, it’s just not as good for building a stable community, long-term,” said Sheryl Redman.
Redman, who lives in Campbell’s Crossing near the site, said the developer’s plan for subsidized housing doesn’t fit in her small community.
“I’ve lived in mixed-housing, mixed-income housing, and while it started out nice and safe after a year or two it became less so,” said Redman.
But the developer, who is partnering with East Georgia Housing Authority, believes the creation of “Independence Village of Harlem” will be positive.
A spokesperson for Beverly J. Searles Foundation, Inc wrote in an email: “Our site will focus on creating safe secure affordable housing for disabled veterans, active military and veterans working at Fort Gordon. This was a proposed condition of our zoning.”
A spokesperson for East Georgia Housing Authority said the first phase of the community will be 80 units and will be paid for with low-income tax credit, but the second phase will be 45 units that won’t be paid for with low-income tax credits. She said this means the developer would have the freedom to make them into any type of housing, which could be single-family residential homes.
“We have started to experience growth and with growth, you have to make decisions about land use,” said Jason Rizner, Harlem City Manager.
Rizner said the planning and zoning commission’s recommendation for the more than 25 acre development is denial, but city council will make the final decision.
“Weighing these applications against our comprehensive plan, which is one of the documents they use to analyze this, that’s one of the things that’s a relevant factor in a zoning decision,” said Rizner.
The city is in the process of rewriting a new comprehensive plan because their current one expires next year. This could change how some see the future of the city.
“I think we need to grow, but I’m not sure this is the way to do it,” said Redman.
If council denies the application, the only way the developers can move forward is if the original property owner selling the land files a lawsuit against the city. City council is expected to make the decision at the meeting on Tuesday.
Stay with News Channel 6 for more on this developing story.