City council rejects seniors’ apartment complex

Artist’s rendering of the Foster Commons seniors’ apartment complex. Courtesy of the Town of Smithfield

Sewer capacity for apartment complex unavailable until 2025

SMITHFIELD — In a split vote, Smithfield City Council has rejected a developer’s plans to build a 50-unit multi-family seniors’ apartment complex. Woda Cooper Development, Inc. asked council to rezone 5.46 acres on S. Brightleaf Boulevard (US 301) and East Holt Street for the project.

The apartment complex, called Foster Commons, would cost around $10 million and increase the city’s tax base. The company currently has over 400 properties with 16,000 apartments under management.

The proposed three-story, 43-foot-tall apartment building included one-bedroom units ranging from 18 to 660 square feet and two-bedroom units ranging from 32 to 900 square feet. An elevator in the center of the building and stairs at both ends would provide access. Eighty-three parking spaces were also included to meet city code.

At the April public hearing, Brian Rabil, who operates a used car dealership next to the property, said he was concerned about traffic and property values. Mr. Rabil said it was a good project but in the wrong place.

Developers wanted to build the Foster Commons seniors’ apartment complex on S. Brightleaf Boulevard at E. Holt Street, just north of Family Dollar and a second-hand parking lot. Courtesy of the Town of Smithfield

Although seniors’ apartments require that at least one occupant per unit be 55 or older, people under 55, including children, could live in the units, pending city approval. direction.

Smithfield Director of Planning Stephen Wensman said the project would be serviced by city utilities, but there is no sewer capacity to serve Foster Commons. Wensman said when Johnston County Utilities completes a sewer expansion project by the first quarter of 2025, sewers will be available. He said the developers are aware of the problem.

Woda Cooper Development officials said this particular area needed improvement and a seniors’ apartment complex would be ideal, being close to a grocery store and pharmacy.

Following the public hearing, Councilor Roger Wood moved to deny the rezoning application. Councilor Steve Rabil seconded the motion. The council voted 4 to 3 to deny the application. Councilmen Marlon Lee, Travis Scott and David Stevens voted against the refusal.

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