Affordable senior housing receives planners’ blessing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2005

A proposed affordable housing community for seniors citizens on Kings Fork Road was blessed by several ministers prior to receiving the blessing Tuesday of the Suffolk Planning Commission.

Epps Senior Village, named in honor of the late Gibbon Epps, former owner of Epps Farm Supply whose widow, Elizabeth, sold the 11 acres near King’s Fork Middle School where the complex will be located, will consist of two 3-story buildings with 120 units.

The Rev. Willie Royster, pastor at Love Christian Center on Saratoga Street, who church is developing the project, showed commissioners photos of similar projects in the Atlanta area with which he was involved.

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&uot;It’s our desire to help seniors have affordable housing in Suffolk,&uot; Royster said during a public hearing to change the zoning on the land from RR Rural Residential to RU Residential Urban. The change allows an increase in density from one dwelling per acre to 10.

Several area ministers testified on behalf of Royster, including Bishop R.J. Wiggins who said, &uot;It is our goal as ministers that we are not only feeding the soul, but dealing with the whole plan of man.&uot;

Elizabeth Epps also spoke in support of the project. She talked about her late husband’s generosity and said he would approve of the proposed use of the land.

&uot;I cannot see where it cannot be an asset to the community,&uot; Epps said. &uot;I did it (sold the land) in honor of Mr. Epps and that’s what I’d like to see – that Suffolk cares about its fellow man, too.&uot;

The project will have 72 2-bedroom units with the remainder having one bedroom. Epps said he would like to see the project completed by next year. He declined to say what rents would be, only that he will pursue every possible low interest loan and grant to keep them as affordable as possible.

GLO Community Development, which Royster described as an outreach of Love Christian Center, was created to develop affordable housing projects like the one he hopes to build in Suffolk. He is trying to build a similar project in Franklin.

The matter will be before Suffolk City Council at its August meeting.