Raleigh’s Scatter Site Policy came under fire during a Council committee meeting Friday as Councilors and the public discussed an affordable housing community planned for Southwest Raleigh.
Despite the controversy, members of the Comprehensive Planning Committee approved funding for the project by a 2 to 0 vote. Councilor Bonner Gaylord was absent from the meeting.
The issue will go before the full Council for a final vote at a special meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m.
DHIC, one of Raleigh’s biggest builders of affordable houses and rental properties, intends to build a 48-unit rental apartment at 2904 Tryon Road for families who make less than 60 percent of Raleigh’s average median income.
DHIC applied for joint venture funding through the City for a $750,000 loan, which was approved by the Budget and Economic Development Committee in late April.
The request, and the city’s Scatter Site Policy, were sent to the Comprehensive Planning Committee on Tuesday for further review after neighbors spoke out against the project.
City staff used the Scatter Site Housing Policy as part of the evaluation process for the funding application. The policy ranks areas of the city for affordable housing.
The Tryon Road site is in a Priority Two area, making it an acceptable place for affordable housing.
But critics of the project say that because there are already three other publicly funded projects for lower-income residents within a half mile of the prospective site, it violates the policy.
The policy is used to discourage concentrated areas of low-income housing.
Andy Petesch an attorney representing the Camden Crossing community, said residents don’t have a problem with DHIC or affordable housing, but this project would concentrate more of this type of housing in this neighborhood.
“I don’t think it’s the right site,” said Brandon Moore, a resident an Camden Crossing homeowners association member.
He said the city has a policy that is already on the books and should be enforced.
“Residents should expect that you have some weight in these decisions,” he said.
Petesch also questioned why the project got a higher evaluation score than it did a year ago when it was denied by the city. According to the minutes of a May 2012 Budget and Economic Development meeting, the project got a score of 42.
This year, it was given a score of 60.
Camden Crossing homeowners association president Henry Taylor said the he was mainly, “concerned that this was denied a year ago and this has popped up again.”
Aimee Holtsclaw in the Community Development Department said changes in the state-developed evaluation criteria lead to an increased score.
Last year, she said, points were deducted because — according to Google Maps — the site was more than a half a mile from a grocery store. Holtsclaw said the state changed the preferred threshold to one mile.
DHIC president Gregg Warren added that the state also dropped a penalty for developments with a right-turn-only exit. These changes in the state-established evaluation criteria give it an additional 12 points.
Attorney Isabel Mattox, who was representing DHIC, said the project was given a low score for its proximity to other affordable housing developments, but that the rest of the criteria made it suitable for funding.
Mattox also said that if the funding for the DHIC project is not approved, a for-profit developer could come in and build its own development because the property is zoned for everything from residential apartments to a T.V. and radio station or funeral home.
Neighbors in attendance cited other issues with the project, including an increase in traffic and an existing parking problem.
Residents said the nearby entrance to the Camden Crossing development is often used as an idling spot for buses and that on-street parking has disappeared as owners have moved out and renters have moved in.
Councilor and Committee Chair Russ Stephenson said that parking, traffic and buses are a separate issue that will be referred to the Public Works committee.
Stephenson said Councilors and staff will also continue reviewing the Scatter Site Policy.