The Woodstock City Council took action to deny a request to rezone land for a senior living development along Georgia Highway 92 at its most recent meeting.
Up for consideration was approximately 9.7 acres of land at the intersection of Highway 92 and Neese Road, behind where the new Culver’s restaurant is being developed and across the street from First Baptist Church of Woodstock. Owned by Woodstock Healthy Living, LLC, the company was asking for a rezoning of the property in order to develop it as Larkspur at Woodstock, an independent living community for people ages 55 and older. The request also asked for variances to grade land in the property buffer and to increase the density allowed on the land.
The property had been the site of two previous approved rezonings for senior living. Both times the property reverted back to residential zoning when no work was done to develop the parcels.
According to Senior City Planner Katie O’Connor, the plan calls for 174 units on the property for a density of 18 units per acre, six higher than the zoning category’s base density of 12 units per acre. These units include 31 cottages and 143 apartments, with no centralized dining facility on site. The application said the development will be affordable compared to similar facilities in the area. O’Connor also pointed out that, according to the most recent update the city made to its Multi-Family and Senior Living Residential Goals Policy, the addition of more senior living units was not supported. The policy states a goal of a maximum of 5 percent of the total number of households within the city being senior living units, with the city currently standing at a rate of 8.4 percent being senior living.
“The Development Process Committee voted to recommend denial of the rezoning and the variance request, primarily because we thought the density was inappropriate and the proposal did not conform with the comprehensive plan and the policy,” O’Connor said. “At the Sept. 3 meeting, the Planning Commission also voted to recommend denial, but it was through a vote to approve being voted down, 3-2.”
Representing the developer in this case was attorney Parks Huff, who said the developers had worked to come up with a proposal neighboring property owners would approve of.
“This is a project that does not exist in the marketplace. It is independent living, it is not assisted living.” Huff said. “This is an urgent need.”
During the public hearing, the council heard from Paul Belobrajdic, a resident of the subdivision behind the property in question. He said residents of his neighborhood are in support of the rezoning to turn the land into Larkspur at Woodstock.
“The Ansley Forest POA totally supports the Larkspur development as proposed,” Belobrajdic said. “This is a quality development.”
Councilman Colin Ake said the site is part of a transitional area and that what was being proposed was a more dense use of land than even what the city’s senior living policy calls for.
“I understand (Belobrajdic’s) comment regarding guidelines being guidelines, but when all the guidelines point one direction, and so does staff and so does planning commission, it feels like there’s some alignment there,” Ake said.
Ake then made a motion to deny the rezoning request, which was approved in a 4-2 vote of the council.