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Developer Jeff Rice at Tuesday night's public hearing at City Hall

Council approves rezoning of hospital property

By Michael Butler

After a public hearing on Tuesday night at City Hall, the Tallassee City Council voted to rezone property adjacent to Community Hospital at 120 Herren Street from Office and Institution to Development District Housing.

Plans now are to proceed with a project to develop ten acres of land on the backside of the hospital property for senior housing, despite the Tallassee Planning Commission's recommendation not to rezone.

"The planning commission is not the governing body. The council is," Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock said. "The hospital is wanting to sell to a developer to make a 48-56 unit elderly living facility. You have to be 55 or older and make 60 percent or less of the median household income of the region."

A one-person family can make up to $26,460. A two-person family can make up to $30,240. The dwellings are one- and two-bedroom units.

Hammock and building inspector Andy Coker visited one of the facilities in LaGrange, Ga.

"We talk about the stigmas of low income housing," Coker said. "but this property was an asset to that community, and I think it'll be an asset to ours."

Sketch of proposed development layout in green

Developer Jeff Rice delieverd a message to the audience that filled the council chambers.

"This property is not a HUD property. It's financed through the sell of tax credits," he said. "We are working with the Tallassee Housing Board to try and provide some housing for the senior residents who are in their properties now. That consists of about 20 residents."

Community Hospital CEO Jennie Rhinehart spoke of how the development can benefit its senior patients.

Clubhouse at property in LaGrange

"Our interest is in senior housing," she said. "A lot of patients are not ready for the nursing home but would like to stay in Tallassee."

God's Congregational Holiness Church pastor Adolphus Gauntt talked about the seniors he visits who would like better conditions.

"They'd like to have a nice place," he said. "Some of y'all live in big, nice houses. I would love to see in our day and time that we in this city make it better for somebody besides ourselves."

Bill Patterson, a local real estate developer, also addressed the future of the property.

"We are real limited in the city limits on land. If we're going to get housing in the city limits, we need all the land we can get. The hospital has got it," Patterson said. "We've got seven government funded apartments in Tallassee. If the facility looks good and takes care of senior citizens then I'm for it, but we've got land that I hope the hospital will put to use and make Tallassee greater."

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