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Oklawaha Village homeowners complain about apartments

Homeowners in Oklawaha Village object to apartments nearing completion in their backyards. Homeowners in Oklawaha Village object to apartments nearing completion in their backyards.

Homeowners from the Oklawaha Village development appealed to the Hendersonville City Council Thursday to force a housing improvement agency to fix what they say are construction-associated problems with traffic, noise and erosion.

Developed by the Housing Assistance Corporation, Oklawaha Village is made up of 17 affordable single-family homes and more recently apartment buildings.
In a petition, homeowners said the new construction at the North Main Street neighborhood had brought problems with traffic, noise, water runoff, trash accumulation, crime, road conditions and road safety and that HAC had yet to make good on a promise to build a park and community center.
“You know in your heart when something isn’t right,” homeowner Phyllis Bailey told the council.
“There is not a lot the city can do,” Mayor Barbara Volk said, adding that city could address road safety and crime concerns by ensuring there is a lower speed limit through the community and facilitating the creation of a neighborhood watch.
In her presentation, Bailey said, “In 2017, after much blood, sweat and tears,” she had accomplished her dream of owning a home. However, she said, “Had I known from the beginning these apartments would be in my backyard, I never would have built my home in Oklawaha Village.”
“In our meetings,” she added, “HAC never disclosed details of plans pertaining to the apartments other than there will be about 60 or 70 units atop a hill behind our home and the water runoff section would not be near my home. Everything may have looked good on paper, but did you know these apartments were going to be very close to our residential area?”
Resident Franco Carrasco also spoke.
“We are seeking the council’s help,” he said. “We’ve had six cars broken into already.”
Carrasco expressed concerns about the speed of traffic through their community, which does not have a posted limit. He said there are kids in their neighborhood playing soccer and riding bicycles.
A petition signed by many of the development 17 homeowners asks the HAC to address concerns resulting from the construction and presence of the Oklawaha Village Apartments.
“Many of us feel that our residences have been substantially devalued because of the occurrence of the above referenced conditions,” they said.
Residents suggested changes to remedy these issues, such as the construction of a “sight and sound barrier” between the multi-family and single-family developments and the installation of additional signage, speed-bumps and street lights for the safety of the community.
The Housing Assistance Corporation responded to the petition point by point.
“The plan to construct the apartments was in place before the construction of your homes, and that plan has been available for your review at any time,” the nonprofit agency said.
Sarah Kimmey Grymes, HAC’s executive director, responded to questions from the council regarding the project. Council member Jeff Miller asked if it would be possible to create a buffer to address privacy and noise concerns. Grymes said the developments “were never meant to be divided,” but added that the agency could look at the idea. “We’d be willing to help, of course,” she said.
In its response to the homeowners, HAC rebutted many of the residents' points.
“While we can appreciate your desire to address the ongoing construction near your homes, several of the representations made are inaccurate, and the requests made are not possible,” it said. Construction-related complaints, such as traffic, trash and water runoff, would be resolved as construction concluded soon. The Housing Assistance Corporation said that the construction project has followed “all legal requirements for safety, sanitation and welfare.”
Addressing the park mentioned in the petition, the Housing Assistance Corporation said, “Due to shortfalls in funding, the eventual construction of Gadugi Park differs from the initial plan.” The park and community center will be amenities for the apartment complex. They said, however, that homeowners may be granted access to the playground area by the apartment owners.
“We believe, once the current construction is complete, your neighborhood will begin to appreciate the improvements that have been made and many of your complaints will be naturally resolved,” HAC said.