Walton expansion OK’d by council
by Michelle Babcock
March 27, 2014 12:00 AM | 3409 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — The Marietta-based developer behind Woodstock West by Walton was given the green light by the City Council on Monday to move forward with an expansion of the 2013 award-winning development.

The Woodstock City Council voted 5-1 to remove an age restriction and allow nearly twice as many townhomes on property at Market and Reeves streets, after originally tabling the vote in February.

Councilman Warren Johnson was opposed to the plan and said he had concerns about the development.

Johnson said the increased density from additional townhomes was concerning because of the impact it could have on Main Street traffic.

“I understand the overall density is less, but I think this is an opportunity where we may need to take a second look,” Johnson said. “We don’t have an immediate solution to the traffic we’ve already got.”

The new development will include 89 non-age-restricted apartment units, along with 30 for-rent townhomes, explained Jessica Guinn, Woodstock community development director.

Walton Communities Principal David Knight added that, despite removing the age restriction, the units were planned to include elevators and accessibility options for senior residents.

“We’ve asked for the age restriction to be removed from the zoning, but to do that, we’re also going to add elevators,” Knight said at the meeting Monday. “We’re going to build these buildings to be built to senior standards, and that’s our hope and anticipation that they would be for our senior residents.”

The 6.561-acre property, originally zoned for senior living — including apartments and 16 townhomes — will be the final piece of a 32-acre master planned community that includes Woodstock West by Walton.

Patti Hart, Woodstock community development planner, noted in a review of the rezoning request that even with the additional 14 townhomes requested by the developer, the 32-acre master development would still end up with a lower density than originally planned.

“Of the 640 total units permitted on the 32-acre property, 380 residential multi-family units have been built,” Hart stated in the review. “(Walton) contends that current demographics suggest non-age restricted units would have a higher likelihood of being absorbed by the market. The request for 30 townhome units as opposed to 16 is also appropriate in that it is shifting density permitted and not increasing the overall permitted density.”

There was some discussion among council members and city staff as to whether or not the Walton developers would extend Paden Street to Mill Street as part of the grid streets project.

But City Manager Jeff Moon said the city did not have funds in the current or following years’ budget to split the cost with the developer, 50-50, to complete the grid street in the near future as originally discussed.

“There will not be money available in the FY 2015 budget,” Moon explained.

However, Moon said it could be budgeted for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 2015.

Paden Street will be partially built to allow for planned access to the new development, but extending the road could satisfy the need for emergency access to a portion of the Greenprints trail.

Council members discussed how far the road should be extended — whether it should stop at the trail to just allow for emergency access or to extend the road past the trail to complete a portion of the grid streets network Walton previously agreed to build.

Moon said completing the grid street was probably not the most cost-effective way to use city funds in the current and next years’ budgets, since the street would be a dead-end for the foreseeable future and not be connected to another street in the grid network for some time.

The council voted 5-1 to allow the developer to go ahead with the project, with the understanding that the city could bring Walton a development agreement to split the cost for the extension of the street when the council decides how to move forward with the project.

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