Apartment plan prompts concerns among residents
The question of what will happen with some 11.4 acres of land in Priceville remains unanswered.
Priceville's Town Council is vowing to look into whether to allow apartments to be built on the tract, located on the north side of Highway 67 in the eastern part of town.
The council heard more than two hours of heated debate on the subject last week. They scheduled a second work session on the matter on June 27, with the vote expected at the 7 p.m. council meeting that same night.
Local developer and attorney Hubert Porter proposes to build an "up-scale, gated apartment community" on the land that overlooks the Cove Creek Crossing subdivision.
The Priceville Zoning Commission recommended the request be denied in April, but Porter accused commission members of "being stampeded" by Cove Creek residents when they voted on their recommendation.
"I have been working with the commission for almost three years in preparation for this project," Porter said. "I have made a large investment in this based on my relationship with the planning commission."
But Cove Creek residents said the development will hurt their property values.
Resident John Rundle said his property adjoins Porter's land and that local real estate appraisers have told him that apartments could decrease the value of his land and $200,000 home by as much as 40 percent.
"We have other issues as well," Rundle said. "With more transient population, there's certainly a greater potential for crime. People who live in apartments do not take the same pride in maintaining the surroundings as people who own homes. More people would increase the noise and traffic."
Mike Fisk, president of the Cove Creek Crossing Recreation Association, presented the council with copies of statistics he had collected on crime, economics, commuter trends and other factors related to housing trends in Priceville.
Fisk said his statistics indicate most of the people moving to Priceville are family oriented professionals, seeking less congested surroundings.
"If most of our newer residents are older professionals with incomes that can easily afford a $500 per month payment, why would they live in an apartment," Fisk said. "The answer is: They won't. That's not why people are moving to Priceville. People are moving to Priceville to buy homes."
Fisk said the chance of success for an upscale apartment complex is low and said he was concerned that if such apartments were built, eventually economics would force the developer to lower rent prices in order to attract occupants. That lowering of the bar would bring with it the problems associated with apartments that Rundle had discussed earlier.
Porter disputed those claims, and Fisk's statistics.
"Crime rates in gated complex are one third of the local area crime rate anywhere they are," Porter said. "They are not totally secure, but they are more secure than the average apartment and certainly more secure than the average subdivision."