Proposed housing complex clears one hurdle

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

AHOSKIE – The next step to help satisfy Ahoskie’s needs for housing was taken here Tuesday morning.

In a 5-0 decision, members of the Ahoskie Town Council voted to approve the rezoning of a tract of land located behind Newmarket Shopping Center, paving the way for the proposed development of multi-family housing.

Back in February, the current property owners of the parcel – Sam Farmer, Annette Jernigan and Jackie Farmer – submitted a request to the Ahoskie Planning Board to rezone the B-3 (General Business) portion of that tract to R-10 (Multi-Family Residential). One portion of that land was already zoned R-10.

The Ahoskie Planning Board, at their March 20 meeting, approved the rezoning request and forwarded their decision to the Ahoskie Town Council for action at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. Their vote came after an advertised public hearing on the matter.

The project is under the auspice of the Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina, a non-profit organization established in 1966 (as Low Income Housing and Development Corporation) to develop affordable housing and provide technical assistance to community-based and faith-based organizations in North Carolina. The Group is based in Charlotte.

A spokesperson for the Group told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald during a telephone conversation that the project is currently in the preliminary planning stages. Due to that fact, there is no information available at this point as to the number of residential units planned for proposed housing complex.

According to the March 20 meeting minutes of the Ahoskie Planning Board, Kathy Stilwell of the Affordable Housing Group said the proposed project, “will provide multi-duplex affordable housing for individuals who are eligible.”

It was further stated in the minutes of that meeting that the housing, if built, would be for low-income individuals and that the Group would be working in conjunction with the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA) office in Rich Square.

CADA Executive Director Sallie Surface told the Ahoskie Planning Board members that, “this will be a great project, not only for the citizens, but it will benefit the Town of Ahoskie as well in tax revenue, building permits, etc.”

The only concern about the project came from Piggly Wiggly’s corporate office concerning fencing between the rear of the Ahoskie Piggly Wiggly store and the proposed housing project. Stilwell assured that fencing the property will not be a problem.

In another matter requiring action from the Council on this proposed project, they voted 5-0 to abandon a water line easement running through the center of the property, contingent upon the Affordable Housing Group re-routing that 12-inch line, at their own expense, in order to maintain flow and pressure to Ahoskie water customers to the east of the parcel.

According to information on their website, the Affordable Housing Group was initially funded through the Ford Foundation and the North Carolina Fund, under the leadership of former Governor Terry Sanford. In their infant stages, efforts were targeted toward small towns and rural communities underserved by other entities.

While the Group notes that they continue to serve their original mandate, they also recognize the increasing need for a wider variety of affordable housing services across all areas of North and South Carolina. In order to meet the growing demand for affordable housing, the Group has assumed diverse roles in the housing arena.

For over 40 years, the Group has provided an array of services to build the capacity of local entities, and thus expand the number of organizations capable of serving the housing needs of their communities. The result has been the development of thousands of affordable homes and a growing number of local organizations with the motivation, knowledge and skills to address the affordable housing needs of their citizens.

The Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina is governed by a Board of Directors. Samuel Kornegay, a professor at Livingstone College in Salisbury, serves as president of that board. Other members include municipal planning directors, housing and home ownership counselors, community development officials, and officials with the Salvation Army, NC Rural Development Center, UNC Institute of Government, and the Bank of America.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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