05/06/09 — Rosewood developer withdraws request

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Rosewood developer withdraws request

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 6, 2009 1:46 PM

The developer of a controversial proposed low-rent housing project in the Rosewood community has withdrawn his request for a letter of support from county commissioners for his application to the state Division of Community Assistance for a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant.

John T. Bell, not the commissioner, contacted County Manager Lee Smith Tuesday morning prior to the commissioners' board meeting.

"He told me he planned to keep moving forward on the project and would look for private funding," Smith said in an interview.

Smith said Bell did not mention any more specifics about the project including whether the proposed location would remain the same.

Bell could not be reached for comment prior to presstime this morning.

County Planning Director Connie Price said Bell could seek the grant funding without the county's endorsement, but that it might not be rated high enough to be approved.

Price said Bell would not have to come back before the Planning Board to proceed with the project other than to get approval for storm water runoff.

If that is approved, and Bell can secure the funding, then he can build, Price said.

"That is our understanding that is correct," Smith said.

Bell first approached commissioners Feb. 3 asking for their endorsement. The board has endorsed such applications before.

The county would have received the money and in turn loaned it to Bell who would have repaid it with interest.

Commissioners sent the request to the Planning Board for its recommendations -- it never got that far.

The project was scheduled for Planning Board review in February. However, Bell pulled it from the agenda just prior to the start of the meeting after close to 100 people showed up on the steps of the county administrative building to oppose the project.

The Rosewood Townes project would be 36 single-family rental properties ranging from low-income to market value and would be built behind the Second Fling consignment shop on U.S. 70 West.

There is no zoning in the area.

Rosewood residents organized to oppose the project at a meeting in February. Bell did not attend the meeting saying it would serve no purpose to meet with an angry crowd.

Opponents also packed the commissioners' boardroom at the board's March 3 session.

Bell was on the agenda to explain the project during what at times was an unruly meeting as opponents shouted questions and interrupted his presentation.

Commissioners took no action noting that it already had been referred to the Planning Board.

The item was never added back on to the agenda.