New Albany News

Wolcott Manor apartments on hold

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

New Albany City Council tabled a resolution to approve a plat for Wolcott Manor -- which would be the city's first apartment complex -- pending further review.

City Council on Jan. 7 questioned age restrictions on the project, which is geared toward senior citizens.

The project would allow three apartment buildings with a total of 62 rental units to be built on 12.1 acres southeast of Souder and New Albany roads.

It would have four public roads, including the extension of Souder Road south of New Albany Road and the extension of Wolcott Loop, Providence Drive and Wolcott Place.

The complex would be part of the Wolcott Manor subdivision, zoned in 2004 as a comprehensive planned-unit development. The entire subdivision includes 22 acres, according to city staff reports.

Mayor Nancy Ferguson asked if the city could control the number of school-aged children who move into the apartments and attend New Albany-Plain Local schools.

Adrienne Joly, the city's deputy community development director, said the city would restrict the development as much as it could under the law.

Jennifer Chrysler, the city's community development director, said the development plan for the first phase of Wolcott Manor, which is partially constructed, requires the developer to have at least one resident age 50 or older in 70 percent of the properties.

The first phase of Wolcott Manor includes 41 condominiums on 10 acres.

Chrysler said the development plan also refers to the Federal Housing Act, which the city's attorney, Mitch Banchefsky, said allows developments geared toward senior citizens to be exempt from the fair-housing standards and require one occupant age 55 and older in up to 80 percent of a development.

The Federal Housing Act allows an exemption from the law's family requirements if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development "determines a dwelling is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a federal, state or local government program or it is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or it houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house persons who are 55 or older," according to the HUD website.

Chrysler said the entire Wolcott Manor development is unlikely to add any children to the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

Council member Colleen Briscoe said the apartment complex would be built without a pool, clubhouse or playgrounds, which is expected to discourage families from moving there.

Briscoe suggested tabling the legislation to make sure the language is appropriate and the rest of the council members agreed in a 6-0 vote. City Council has not yet appointed anyone to replace Chris Wolfe, who resigned in December.

In other business Jan. 7, City Council:

* Approved Sloan Spalding as president pro tempore to preside over meetings in the mayor's absence.

* Set the 2014 regular meeting dates for 6:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

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