senoia, habitat for humanity, georgia

THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD

The city of Senoia will be partnering with Newnan Coweta Habitat for Humanity to build a small subdivision of affordable homes.

Monday night, the Senoia City Council approved a new residential zoning category: Inclusive Community. The IC district allows for smaller homes on smaller lots than the city’s other zoning districts. Only property owned by the city or the housing authority is eligible for zoning to IC.

At the July 15 council meeting, a public hearing will be held on the rezoning of property at the corner of Howard Road and Highway 16 to IC for the first – and possibly only – development.

Under the IC, the average home size will be 1,000 square feet, though individual homes can be as small as 800 square feet or as large as 1,250 square feet. Average minimum lot sizes would be 8,000 square feet, slightly smaller than 1/5 of an acre.

There is also the option to face homes to a village green, with lots as small as 3,200 square feet.

The houses will be built one at a time, and the proposed development would have to be complete before a second one would be considered.

“There are a series of brakes that are put on this,” said Mayor Jeff Fisher. “This is going to be a benchmark test here in the state of Georgia.”

If the project is not successful, “this ordinance won’t go any further,” Fisher said.

The design of the homes will be done with the help of architecture firm Historical Concepts, which designed many of the new buildings downtown.

The homes will have fiber cement siding, tile bathrooms and laminate flooring throughout, said Terry Love, director of construction services for Newnan-Coweta Habitat for Humanity. Because the houses are smaller, they will be designed with pocket doors and sliding barn doors instead of standard swinging doors.

“It’s a very high quality product, better than what we’ve done before,” said Cristina Bowerman, NCHFH executive director. “We’re focusing on sustainability for the life of the home.”

The new zoning category is intended to address the lack of affordable and moderately priced housing in Senoia.

Four nearby residents spoke during the public hearing on the ordinance.

Chris Dunn lives in nearby Cumberland subdivision and expressed concerns about the small lot sizes. He’s concerned it’s paving the way for high-density housing.

Nancy Roy lives nearby and is opposed to the use of the property at Howard and Hwy. 16. “It is not consistent with the existing residential lots in the surrounding areas,” Roy said. Roy said that while she understands the need for affordable housing for commercial and service workers, “they tend to be transient, moving on to better or more opportunities.”

Roy and others also expressed concerns about traffic impacts at an intersection that is already problematic.

Emmett Baker lives on Howard Road and some of the new homes would back up to his property. “All these houses for people moving in that never been here before and they’re just ruining our little community,” he said.

The new homes will be for people who are already part of the Senoia community, Bowerman said. There are some people living in the housing authority in space that could be used for other families, but those residents don’t have any other options right now.

“We wanted to offer them another option,” she said. “A lot of people are renting housing that they cannot afford or would love nothing more than to move out of the housing authority units, but they have no options.

“The people our program serves work hard. They have steady income, and they deserve a home – an affordable, decent home in Coweta County,” Bowerman said. “Right now, it doesn’t exist.”

Bowerman called the ability to partner with Senoia an amazing opportunity. She said she hopes to begin construction in 2020.

Buyers of Habitat for Humanity homes are screened, go through a home buying and financial management program and help build their own homes. There may be some homes for senior citizens that would be leased, Bowerman said.

Building an entire subdivision is something new for Newnan-Coweta Habitat, which has formerly only built infill homes. However, it’s common in other Habitat affiliates.

Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, which serves Fayette, Henry and Clayton counties, builds both small subdivisions and houses on vacant infill lots.

“I think these communities have a lot of value to them,” said Cynthia Jenkins, executive director of Southern Crescent Habitat and a member of the Newnan City Council. “Coweta County is a big county, and everybody needs affordable housing, so I’m glad it’s getting done there,” she said of the Senoia project.