Tucker City Council hears plan for Tucker Norcross Road townhomes

CUTLINE: A rendering of the property shown by Rocklyn Homes at Tucker City Council meeting on Nov. 8.

Tucker, GA — A first read and public hearing on Rocklyn Homes’ effort to modify zoning at 3281 Tucker Norcross Road was held at the Nov. 8 Tucker City Council meeting.

Rocklyn Homes is requesting to allow the development of 80 rental townhomes, rather than owner-occupied townhomes.

Each unit is zoned for a three-bedroom townhome with outdoor space. The target rent is around $2,000 per month. If developed, the property will be managed professionally by Lincoln Property Company.

The property is riddled with issues. Rocklyn Homes recently concluded, according to their attorney, that the best financial decision is to create rental homes to cater to the “Missing Middle.”

The 8-acre site was rezoned in DeKalb County, most recently in 2015 before Tucker became a city. The land has been left undeveloped for years, caught in a cycle of sewer issues between Gwinnett County and DeKalb County.

According to a memo from Tucker Planning and Zoning staff, this portion of Tucker is currently served by Gwinnett Water Resources (DWR).

“However, Gwinnett County has demanded DeKalb Watershed find a way to divert all sewer back to DeKalb County treatment facilities. The developer previously had a written agreement with Gwinnett, but the agreement was never signed, so Gwinnett refused to honor it. The applicant is having to construct a pump station on site to address these issues. Staff does not consider these conditions to affect the condition changes that are a part of this application,” the memo states.

Rocklyn Homes’ attorney Den Webb said this type of rental development “would offer a unique housing type in the city,” but Tucker staff says the proposed development and modification requests do not meet the intent of the comprehensive plan.

At the Oct. 21 meeting, Planning Commission recommended denial of the application. Tucker Planning and Zoning staff also recommended denial.

Several neighbors spoke against the application during the public hearing on Nov. 8.

According to Jim Rodeghiero, a longtime property owner in Spring Meadow neighborhood, there have been issues for years with the site. Nearby residents on Scyler Place and Scyler Way were never notified of the project, he said.

“The big concern comes back to density. They want to change the zoning over to 100% rental, which means you don’t know how many people are living on that property. The rents are going to be upwards of $2,000 which is not affordable for the community of Tucker,” said Rodeghiero, who said affordable housing is needed in Tucker. “We’d like to see homeownership as a way of investing in the community.”

Rodeghiero also named environmental issues, like runoff and wildlife, as major problems with developing the site.

Webb said the problem is not the prospect of a rental townhome, the problem is that there’s been no new investment in this area.

“A development like this, I think, will have a benefit to the property values in the area and will beget new development. That’s how this works,” said Webb.

“This idea that property owners are better? That’s sort of the message, that property owners are better for the community and more active in the community. That’s code for ‘Renters are bad.’ I have a hard time with that concept. It’s easy to villainize that crowd. The fact is, I bet everybody in this room has rented at some point in their life for different reasons,” said Webb.

Webb said the property is currently for sale. Rockyln Homes can either sell it or cut costs, and they’re looking at both options now he said.

“If they can’t move forward with this [plan], they’re going to try and sell the property or … they’ll have to build something. They still own it. But they’re going to try to cut costs wherever they can to get the number down to what they think the market would support,” said Webb.

City Council will hold a second read and public hearing for the application on Dec. 8.

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