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  • Friday, December 18, 2015
    Council OKs special use permit for public housing
    A specific use permit that will allow construction of apartments to replace deteriorating public housing units has been approved by the Brenham City Council.
     
    The council voted 7-0 Thursday in favor of the plan after an hour-long public hearing on the proposal.
     
    The permit will allow construction of a five-building apartment complex between Hosea and Bob streets. Each building would be two stories.
     
    The development is still contingent on being awarded federal tax credits that will make it attractive to investors.
     
    If it is selected for funding by the federal government, plans are to replace or rehabilitate 300 BHA housing units. A total of 286 units would be built, although the actual number of bedrooms might be higher than the current 300 units, depending on design.
     
    BHA is working with HuntJon LLC on the project.
     
    Most of the current units are duplexes located behind Henderson Park.
     
    Marvelette Hunter of HuntJon said most of the BHA units are in such poor condition that it will be more cost-effective to “build new” than rehabilitate them.
     
    BHA executive director Vince Michel said units have deteriorated because federal funding has been inadequate for major repairs.
     
    Homeowners in the area, however, said they feared the project would impact traffic and property values, and bring increased crime and noise.
     
    Riggs Street resident Benjamin Martin said there has been “a noise factor for years” in that area.
     
    Georgia Sowers, who presented a petition asking that the request be denied, said the area already has “heavy drug traffic.”
     
    Others, however, said the proposal would actually diminish the negative impact on neighborhoods.
     
    Hunter said that if nothing is done, the existing units “will continue to deteriorate,” which will lessen nearby property values.
     
    “They’ll basically be boarded up,” she said. “It (the proposal) is going to be an improvement. That I can guarantee.”
     
    In the preliminary development plan, the apartment-style buildings would be located on one site with a common courtyard rather than scattered throughout the area.
     
    It would be fenced and only have a single access/egress from Hosea Street.
     
    That reduced “footprint” will make law enforcement easier, said Police Chief Craig Goodman.
     
    “It’s less area that we have to worry about trying to cover,” said Goodman.
     
    Goodman said it has also been his experience that housing projects that are fenced have substantially less crime.
     
    Hunter said the project, with its private investors, represents “a different approach that’s being taken — and (it’s) something that will benefit communities.”
     
    She told council members that the project faces stiff competition.
     
    “We’ll have to submit a solid application that’s going to score very high. The funds are available; there’s a lot of competition for it,” said Hunter.
     
    “If we don’t take advantage of it, someone else will.”