Judge approves apartments

A judge has ordered the Mooresville Board of Commissioners to let a Charlotte nonprofit build 41 affordable-housing apartments off Bluefield Road.

The commissioners deadlocked 3-3 in March on whether to allow the apartments, and former Mayor Chris Montgomery cast the deciding vote against the project. Montgomery said at the time that putting apartments amid offices wasn't a good fit. The mayor votes only in cases of a tie.

In rejecting Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina Inc.'s Glenmoore Apartments, the board concluded the project wasn't in harmony with the area and didn't conform with the town's comprehensive land use plan.

The Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina and developer Bluefield Partners LLC filed a lawsuit in May asking the court to overturn the board's decision.

Iredell County Superior Court Judge Theodore Royster Jr. ruled on Dec. 15 that the board's rejection of the project "was not supported by competent, material and substantial evidence."

Royster ruled a case was established at a public hearing the night of the board's vote showed the project would be in harmony with the area and did conform with the land use plan.

Royster found the board erred in its conclusions and must issue a permit for the project.

The board of commissioners discussed the judge's ruling with Town Attorney Steve Gambill in a closed session at the end of the board's regular meeting last week. The board made no vote on the issue after returning from the closed session.

Gambill said the board has until Jan. 16 to appeal the ruling if it so chooses. If it does nothing, the judge's ruling becomes final, he said.

The Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina has an option on 4.1 acres for the apartments. The group plans to erect five apartment buildings, a community building, a playground area and a picnic area with a shelter.

The apartments will be for people earning 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income, a company official has told the Observer.

James Royster of the Affordable Housing Group said Glenmoore Apartments would look as nice as Curlin Commons, a 40-unit apartment complex for low-income senior adults at N.C. 150 East and Overhead Bridge Road in Mooresville. His organization worked on that project with the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Housing Corp.

"It's a beautiful project," Royster, who is no relation to the judge, told the commissioners at the March public hearing.