Council moves forward with apartment complex

Published 3:08 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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Washington’s City Council voted 4-1 in favor of adopting an ordinance which could lead to the construction of a multi-family housing development on Clarks Neck Road near where it intersects with Grimes Road. Councilman Pitt was the sole opposing vote. 

The vote, taken during their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, was to rezone 7.42 acres of land from Residential Agriculture to Residential Multi-Family. This is a reduction from an initial proposal from the developer – Mills Construction – who initially sent a proposal to the City of Washington Planning Board and City Council last month to rezone 13 acres. 

The area around the property is mostly used for industrial development with some single family residential. Adjacent properties to the north and south are zoned for industrial use while properties to the areas are zoned for Residential Multi Family, Residential Agricultural or Residential. 

The Comprehensive/CAMA Future Land Use Plan recommends the 7.42 acre property be zoned for heavy industrial development. In the last decade, there has not been any industrial development in that area, Tammy Stern, a development associate with Mills Construction, noted. She also shared that the recommendation is at least ten years old and from a former land use plan. 

Council’s vote on Monday amends the future land use plan for the area owned by Mills Construction. 

Mills Construction is based out of Raleigh and has constructed apartment complexes across North Carolina including River Run Apartments in Chocowinity and Kittrell Place Apartments in Greenville. 

Mills Construction hopes to build 60 apartment units in five residential buildings. Stern said the apartment complex’s design could be finished by spring of 2024, and the apartments could be in service by the following year. 

Stern explained the apartment complex meets four housing goals listed in the most recent Comprehensive/CAMA Future Land Use Plan. 

The relevant housing goals are: promoting an adequate supply of safe, affordable, and suitable housing options for residents; all persons who live and work in Washington should have the opportunity to rent or purchase safe, decent, accessible and affordable housing; Washington will promote a variety of housing opportunities throughout the City, both in terms of the housing type and the price of housing, that respect the existing character of the community and the City’s housing stick will be maintained, protected and expanded to ensure an adequate supply of housing for future generations.  

Stern said it is clear there is a “housing deficit” as seen in a study completed last year that shows similar properties are “at capacity” which means there is neither “vacancy or accessibility for rental housing.” She continued to share that the River Run apartment complex currently has an over 18 month waiting list for residents to get a unit. 

She shared that the U.S. Census data specific to Beaufort County shows more than 2,000 renter households are “overburdened” by paying rent because more than 30% of their income goes to paying rent.