Woodstock Downtown Residents Push Back on Rentals

At least 3 residents are speaking out against plans to modify a building in downtown Woodstock to accommodate rental units.

Credit: Patch
Credit: Patch
Some local residents in the Woodstock Downtown community are pushing back against plans to modify an existing building to be utilized as apartment units.

The Woodstock City Council on Monday heard from three residents who live in the community, which was partially developed by Hedgewood Properties before the company went belly up in late 2008.

Building C, a white five-story structure that sits at 260 Chambers Street, is currently being remodeled to where it would have roughly 20 apartment units. Residents Wayne Spencer, Renita Dominy and Grant Spencer all asked the council to rezone the parcel halt the project from becoming rental units.

The building was zoned multi-family, which allows it to be developed as condominiums or apartments, said City Manager Jeff Moon.

Spencer said allowing the apartments to move forward will result in reduced property values for homeowners. He noted some home and condo owners are paying upwards to $700 per month to have access to the neighborhood's amenities, and those in the rental units would not contribute towards the amenities. 

"How could that be fair?" he asked. "We think it's going to have an economic impact on our neighborhood." 

The building's first level is designed for commercial use while the remaining four levels are for residential purposes, said Woodstock Building Official Duane Helton. 

The original design called for 20 condominium units. The modified design will include 23 apartment units. None of the units were ever finished and were all at the "shell-stage" when they were re-permitted, Helton added.

Dominy said allowing the building to become apartments would mean those won't pay fees for its HOA, and could still use the community's amenities. Furthermore, residents like her have "weathered the ups and downs" of the economic recession, and have contributed towards the success of downtown Woodstock.

The residents also argued the new use would violate a ratio that stipulates how many parking spaces had to be set aside for apartment units.

Community Development Director Jessica Guinn noted there also was no difference in the parking ratio between condos and apartments.

City Attorney Eldon Basham also said the residents who would eventually move into the rental units would not be part of the homeowner's association, and would not have access to its condominium amenities.

Basham noted the city only could enforce a zoning change, but the city would run into a challenging legal fight if they were to halt the project from becoming apartment units.

The issue of vested rights would most likely guarantee Southeast Capital Companies, the owner of the building, a win in court as they would argue they've already bought into the property and acquired building permits under the current zoning. 

"It's hard to change the law midstream legally," he added.

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