Despite arguments that an 80-unit housing complex for senior citizens on Quarry Road would result in heavy traffic on the narrow, two-lane street, Manassas's director of community development said the facility is necessary for the city, as its elderly population continues to grow.
"This would be the only place in the city where senior citizens could live independently," said Roger Snyder, the city's director of community development. City staff also have recommended approval of the project.
Earlier this month, the Manassas Planning Commission voted, 4 to 2, to recommend rezoning 3.8 acres of land for the facility, paving the way for an Alexandria-based nonprofit developer to build the complex. City Council members must first approve the rezoning. No date has been scheduled for a vote.
Wesley Housing Corp., which owns or manages about 620 low-income apartment units in Northern Virginia, has proposed building a $6 million project for low-income people 55 and older. To be eligible, seniors must have an income of $39,000 or less for a couple, or $35,000 or less for one person. Monthly rents at the proposed complex would be $575 for a one-bedroom apartment and $725 for a two-bedroom apartment.
The project also has been endorsed by the Manassas Housing Advisory Council, a unit of the city's Department of Social Services, said Hannah Senft, community liaison for the council.
"There just aren't any such facilities available right now," she said. "And we think of this as a good thing for the community."
Currently, Quarry Road is zoned for single-family housing. Several Quarry Road residents admitted being concerned about potential traffic snarls in their neighborhood, which led to a flap this year over installing speed humps on the road in an effort to slow traffic.
"I'm not for it, and I'm not against it," J. Thomas Waters said. "Traffic is out of control, and this is going to make it worse. Quarry Road is unsafe for pedestrians, motorists and homeowners."
Senft said that traffic wouldn't be as monstrous as some residents think. "Something is going to be built there eventually anyway," she said. "This will really produce the least amount of traffic."
According to Snyder, the proposed apartments would generate about 275 car trips a day. About 7,000 cars use Quarry Road daily, he said. "That's really far fewer than an average apartment complex, but you'll still see the added traffic," he said.
Two planning commissioners voted against the project: James H. Payne Jr. and Daniel A. Spencer. "This is a massive project on a street that has been a problem for years," Payne said.
Earlier this year, Quarry Road residents urged City Council members to approve their petition for speed humps on the street. But their proposals were rejected after officials with the Manassas Fire and Rescue Department said speed humps would slow their response time.