PINETOPS — Landowners near the Crisp Community are attempting to block development of a proposed 20-duplex housing unit for senior citizens.
At least eight landowners in the area adjacent to a 14.74 acre tract located off North Carolina Hwy. 124 spoke against a rezoning request by Pinetops Community Development Corporation at the Oct. 15 meeting of the Edgecombe County Planning Board.
The planning board recommended to deny the rezoning application and it was forwarded to the Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners, which will hold a public hearing on the issue at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3.
Realtor/Broker Eddie Williams of Greenville owns the land and proposes building 20 duplex units that would provide housing for persons 55 years old or older. His proposal includes an on-site manager and security office. It will also include a community center that he said would provide health care and educational activities that would be made available to non-residents of the development.
It’s not the first time for Williams to try and develop the property.
In 2008, he proposed a mobile home park in the same area and was met with the same opposition. He says he understood the fight against the mobile home park, but doesn’t understand why the proposed seniors project is drawing opposition.
“This is going to be an asset to the rural part of Edgecombe County,” he said. “We will provide safe and affordable housing to the seniors in the Pinetops-Crisp area. I don’t see why anyone would be opposed to that.”
John Coda, who, at slightly more than 10 acres, has one of the largest parcels adjacent to the proposed development, opposed it during the planning board meeting. Using data collected from the sheriff’s department, Coda said he had concerns about crime that occurred on the property from 2002-2012. He also said the area was not appropriate because the because there is a lack of public/private transportation available to serve the elderly.
Jeff Morris also spoke against it, citing transportation to medical facilities that may be a factor. He also said the tenants who live on the property now are the source of load noises have demonstrated loud noises.
Another landowner speaking in opposition, Mike Mitchell, said it is not right to impose this type of development on existing residents.
Williams’ wife, Elaine, is a native of Pinetops and was one of three who spoke in favor of the development. She said the concerns presented by opponents were unfounded and, according to minutes of the planning board meeting, “She believes that this is a racial issue and is disappointed in the comments that have been made.”
Pinetops Community Development Corporation’s mission is to provide affordable housing for the elderly and or those individuals with disabilities 55-years or age and older.
Currently there are four houses and five mobile homes on the land and Williams said those dwellings will be removed. In an effort to ease the fears of the opposition, he proposed building a fence around the entire property. He said his plans are to equip the units with state-of-the-art materials, including walk-in bath tubs and patios.
“One reason I’m doing this is because I feel the need to help people,” he said. “I want to build something so that I can give back and leave a legacy, but they are saying, ‘You won’t do it in our neighborhood’.”