By: Jeremy Handel, Staff Writer
At their August meeting, the Woodruff City Council welcomed its newest member with the swearing-in of Jeff Wood as the new representative of Ward 6. The council also gave final approval of the sale and rezoning of the Mills Mill ballfield for a proposed senior living development.
After winning the uncontested special election to replace Councilman Scott Dickard in Ward 6, Jeff Wood was sworn in as the new member representing the Ward. Judge Vicki Rae Smith conducted the swearing-in ceremony prior to the start of the regular meeting.
The council unanimously approved the property sale and rezoning of approximately three acres at 220 Mill Street, which is the site of the former Mills Mill ballfield. The city was approached about the development of the parcel for affordable senior housing consisting of 32 rental units available to residents aged 55 and above.
The city will be trading the parcel on Mill Street for another parcel on Chamberlain Street, which houses an old gymnasium. City officials plan to use the new parcel and gymnasium for a future indoor recreation facility for the city.
City Manager Lee Bailey said the city will gain two new assets with the trading of properties, indicating that the ballfield is in disrepair and the new development will improve the area and provide much needed senior housing.
“In the end, we gain a senior living facility and a future indoor recreation facility,” Bailey said of the deal. He said the new recreation facility would be beneficial when combined with the planned athletic complex slated for Fountain Inn Road. Both facilities would be funded through the city’s new impact development fees.
Some council members had previously expressed concern about making sure the senior living development was certain, and Bailey assured them that the sale of the property would not be completed until the developer had submitted all permit applications and development plans to the city. He also indicated that the developer is very motivated and that most of the plans are in place to begin shortly after the finalization of the sale.
In other business, the council also approved the restructuring of the city’s impact development fee for residential and industrial developments. After approving the initial fees, city officials found through a review that the fees may have become a hindrance to development as they may have been set too high. Staff recommends to the council that the fees be reduced to meet the financial goals that were set for them without deterring future development.
The fees will go toward funding the new athletic complex and future needs for the police department, including a new station. The residential fees were reduced from $4,540 to $4,070, and industrial fees were reduced from $537 per 1,000 square feet to $225. Fees for commercial developments were unchanged.
During departmental reports, Bailey announced that the city will be expanding its Christmas cheer this year with the addition of carriage rides downtown during the holiday season. The city expects to offer the rides on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. More information on dates and times will be announced in the future.
The Woodruff City Council meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at city hall and is open to the public. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 27.