Developer meets with hostile crowd
Roger Brown of New Directions Housing Corporation met with a hostile crowd of about 45 people Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Aledo Fire Station. Aledo Mayor Bill Breeden as well as Police Chief Terry Dove and a couple of APD officers were in attendance. Breeden told the crowd there would be no disruptions or outbursts.
Brown was present to answer questions surrounding a 40 home subdivision entitled Buttonwood Trails that New Directions is attempting to build on 13 acres on the southeast side of Aledo.
The subdivision came under fire at the recent Aledo City Council meeting as residents of the Hidden Valley subdivision discussed the effects the new development would have on their property values. The proposed development would hook on to Northeast 10th Avenue, turning a cul de sac with six homes on it into the only way in and out of a 40 home subdivision.
Hidden Valley residents weren't the only ones concerned.
Former Aledo Mayor Lee Celske stood out in the crowd as the most vocal of the Buttonwood Trails critics.
Celsk spoke about the housing study his administration started several years ago. "We wanted to find out how we could get affordable homes. We wanted to try to identify how to get stakeholders in our community."
Celske insisted, "This is not economic development." Celske went on to note they could get three builders to build 15 homes for $10 million. "I know it is tremendously lucrative to building these homes. I don't call that economic development. Do we want home owners or cheap rent."
Celske pointed out that half the homes being built were aimed at people with income of $21,000 a year. "This is not economic development. There are no stakeholders here."
Brown told the audience the proposed homes would be two, three and four bedroom dwellings of 1,200, 1,500 and 1,800 square feet apiece. The houses would sit on 14,000 square foot lots. There would be no basements, but each house would have a two car garage. There will be a minimum of 15 feet between each house. "We'll meet the city ordinances," said Brown.
The homes were designed as single family dwellings to families making $20,000 to $50,000 a year. They would be limited to two persons per bedroom. The cost to rent the units would be $300 to $700 a month. plus heat, electric and gas.
There would be a community meeting room as well as on-site management. There will be a fitness center, patio, meeting room, parties and a playground.
There were no age restrictions. This is not a senior restricted facility but a family one.
Brown said the construction phase would take 12 to 14 months to complete.
Brown said New Directions has been around since 1994 and has four or five employees with $36 million in assets under management.
Buttonwood Trails would cost $10.3 million of which New Directions would be supplying $8.3 million. The other $2 million would come from loans.
Brown said he expects the homes to be occupied by the people who already live here or in the general vicinity.
Brown noted that the county assessor would probably tax the property as one parcel. He estimated the they would be paying $20,000 a year in property taxes.
Brown said the renters would have to pass a criminal background check as well as a credit check.
"There are higher standers than anyone who wants to buy a house."
One of the Hidden Valley residents spoke up stating that if this was built he would like some sort of barrier between his property and the subdivision.
They also questioned why the homes in the parcels would only be paying $500 in property taxes while one resident at Hidden Valley was reportedly paying $4,500 in property taxes each year.
Another resident spoke against the possibility of adding 80 more kids to the school district (assuming two children per household) while adding only $20,000 in tax revenue to help support them.
Donald St. Germaine, the county assessor, noted that special treatment is given by the state to developers looking at low in come housing. "There is nothing the local assessor can do about it. The taxes will be set on the state model which nobody has a say in."
One resident asked if there was any other way to route traffic in and out of this development. "Forty homes with two car garages exiting onto Hwy 17 at one spot is asking for trouble," commented one man.
Not one of the audience members spoke in favor of the project.