New Smyrna Council votes down proposed low-income housing complex

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NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Hundreds of residents packed a New Smyrna Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night in hopes of stopping a controversial apartment complex. They succeeded.

The City Council unanimously voted down the proposed housing.

The 239-unit complex that includes affordable housing would have been built along prime real estate along the North Causeway.

The City Council meeting had to be moved to the Brannon Center on Riverside Drive due to the expected size in attendance.

In all, more than 700 residents signed a petition against the affordable housing complex.

The 14-acre proposed site sits near where the mainland connects to the beachside. Some call the spot the gateway to New Smyrna Beach, which is why hundreds of residents are so concerned about what gets built in the location.

"It is not an emotional issue, it is an economic issue for our community," said Sally Gillespie of New Smyrna Beach Citizens for Smart Growth. "The proposed development is just a few blocks from our city's center."

NSB approved plans for a condo complex on the land in 2005, but that developer sold the land to a new developer, Atlantic Housing Partners out of Winter Park, which has built similar apartment complexes in the Orlando area.

Under the original plan, the city approved each condo would have an individual garage. But under the new affordable housing plan, the parking would all be outside.

The proposed affordable housing apartment complex would only be available to those earning between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, with good credit, and no criminal record.

"I don't think a need has been proven and certainly not a need at all that would justify taking a piece of waterfront property that can be an economic driver for our community," said Gillespie.

A representative with Atlantic Housing Partners said there is a need for affordable housing in NSB. They found that many who work in the hospitality industry can't afford to live close to their jobs.