Graham’s city council gave its unanimous approval for a 48-unit apartment complex targeted to low-income seniors Tuesday.
The project is located on the border with Burlington along East Webb Avenue that would straddle the Graham-Burlington city limits along East Webb Avenue(Burlington)/West Elm Street (Graham).
[Story continues below graphic of four-story apartment facade.]
The actual apartment building is to be located on a 1.52-acre tract of land that is entirely within Graham. But much of the parking lot, a detention pond, and other wooded natural and buffer areas would be within Burlington’s jurisdiction over the remaining 3 acres on its side of the line.
Further complicating matters is that sewer will be provided by Graham while water will be provided by Burlington.
The planning board’s focus last month was on increasing the parking. The developer, Stephen Brock, agreed to have 18 additional spaces added to the 48 originally proposed.
This week’s new configuration, with the 66 total parking spaces, didn’t draw objections from council members. Councilman Bobby Chin did question how the developer could have first proposed only 48 parking spaces for a 48-unit complex. “Seniors have more than one car,” Chin said.
It was explained that Graham’s normal requirement for parking is 1.5 spaces per apartment, or 72 for a 48-unit complex. (There are 16 one bedroom units proposed, 32 with two bedrooms, but Graham’s parking requirement is the same for one- and two-bedroom apartments.) It was noted that for senior complexes like the one proposed, the requirement is simply for one parking space per apartment.
Council members did, however, object to Brock’s request to remove the 6-foot security fence along the back property line and the side lot lines forward to the edge of the apartment building; that requirement had been added by planning board members.
Brock said that, since the complex backs up to a wooded area, the fence would serve little purpose, and he worried that an opaque fence in a little-traveled area could attract graffiti.
“Fences make happy neighbors,” responded mayor Jennifer Talley. Council members Joey Parsons and Bonnie Whitaker also spoke up to support keeping the fence requirement.
Whitaker expressed some reservation about the fact that the complex would have only one elevator, wondering aloud how elderly residents would be expected to navigate the four-story building in the event the elevator was broken our otherwise out of service.
Brock also wanted to “correct” what he said had been a mistaken description that the non-brick portion of the apartment facade would be Hardie-plank siding; instead, it would be a vinyl shake siding, and he showed council members a photo of the proposed material.
Brock said the lower-priced vinyl would save about $3,000 per unit.
Talley pressed Brock to leave the Hardie-plank material, but she did not require it when she made the motion to approve the rezoning request, which passed unanimously, 5-0.
See earlier coverage of Graham planning board’s consideration of the project: https://alamancenews.com/4-story-48-unit-senior-apt-complex-proposed-along-graham-burlington-line/