Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sebree council to hear rezoning ordinance on Monday

J-E News Editor
When Sebree’s city council members meet on Monday night they will be considering an ordinance that will rezone a piece of property on Sellers Street to multi-family residential. That rezoning, which was approved by the planning commission last month, has come under fire from a number of local residents who oppose the development of an apartment complex at that location.

Part of the controversy seems to be that some residents believe the apartments are intended to be low income housing. Mark Moser, Sebree council member and owner of JEM Development (the company that developed and built the Subway restaurant in Sebree) says that this is just not true.

“We’re not taking any Section 8 or Kentucky Housing money at all,” said Moser. “The project is solely owned by JEM Development, and we’re getting our financing from one of the banks in Sebree.”
Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, often simply called Section 8, operates in the Commonwealth through the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Those entities authorize the payment of federal rental housing assistance monies to private landlords. They also set the rates and regulate who is eligible to live there.
Moser said that he has no intention of constructing low-income housing.
“We’re building this for anybody and everybody who can meet the requirement to live there,” he said. “Sebree is setting in a prime location to grow. We have the I-69 development in the works and there is a new coal mine about to open six and a half miles from town. There is a need for nice housing in Sebree.”
Moser explained that Tyson currently owns the property, but they are in no way involved in the project.
“We are purchasing the property from them,” he said. “This project is not geared towards any certain industry. We have people that work at several plants around our area that drive long distances to get here. Maybe some of them would be interested in renting an apartment closer to where they work.”
The $1.5 million project, if rezoning is approved by the council, will include four brick apartment buildings that each house eight 800 square foot units with two bedrooms. There will also be a complex office, a laundry building, a picnic area and a playground. The entrance to the property will be directly across Sellers Street from East Washington Street.
“There has been some concern over the traffic these apartments would generate on a narrow city street,” Moser said. He pointed out that the complex’s entrance was only a couple of blocks from both US 41 and Highway 56. “The city would have several options. They could make East Washington and Sellers Street one-way. But it’s really up to the city to decide.”
According to  Moser, construction of a $1.5 million apartment complex would most likely improve the property values in this area of Sebree, where the development of a mobile home park would most likely have the opposite effect. Some of the opposition has held that the development would lower property values.
“This isn’t something my wife Cheryl and I just jumped into,” Moser said. “We’ve given it a lot of thought and debated whether we wanted to do a project of this size at this stage of our lives. “But we looked at what it would mean for the city and the county and we couldn’t pass it up.”
When the issue comes before the council on Monday, Moser, a lifelong resident of Sebree, said that he will excuse himself from the vote. If the ordinance does pass, that will not be the end of the issue. A city council must vote on an ordinance such as this twice before it is officially adopted by the city.
Moser also said that anyone who wanted to take a look at plans for the complex was welcomed to do so. So far no one opposing the construction has asked to inspect the plans.

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