CHIPLEY — The Chipley City Council approved a development order allowing the construction to proceed on a 15-unit apartment complex for disabled residents.
The apartments are being built by Goodwill Industries — Big Bend and will be wheelchair accessible, and the project was introduced to the council back in March.
The 15-unit complex planned for Chipley will be located behind the Washington Square plaza on Main Street.
One unit will be occupied by the building manager, and there will be four two-bedroom apartments and 10 one-bedroom apartments.
The complex is expected to cost $1.4 million to build and should be ready for occupancy sometime next summer, Goodwill officials have said.
The housing is being built with federal funds, and the rent will be prorated based on the resident’s income, she said. The facilities will be completely wheelchair accessible, including the laundry room and community room.
The facility will be called the GIBB Chipley Village. Similar villages exist in Florida in Tallahasse, Panama City Beach, Marianna, Perry and Springfield. Goodwill also has villages in Georgia in Thomasville, Bainbridge and Cairo.
The apartments often exceed the American with Disabilities Act requirements for accessibility.
Residents for the apartments will most likely come from Chipley and Washington County, but Goodwill will accept applications from anyone, regardless of where they live. When the apartments are about 120 days away from being ready for occupancy, Goodwill will advertise and begin accepting applications from prospective tenants.
The complex has not been without controversy. Several residents have expressed the opinion that the apartments are not being located in a good area due to the lack of sidewalks in the city, which will limit accessibility and which could result in safety issues for the residents were they to take their wheelchairs onto Highway 77.
Two conditions forwarded from the city planning committee to the development order included increased street lighting for the apartment complex and location of the complex’s Dumpster in a more accessible location.
CEO Fred Shelfer was on hand to assure the council that the planning commissions concerns would be addressed. “We have a full-time apartment manager who is on hand to assist the residents,” he said. “If they have trouble getting their trash out to the Dumpster, there is someone there to help them.”
Council member Kevin Russell was the only council member who voted against approving the development order.
The council also had the first reading of an ordinance to abandon a portion of the public alley beside the Piggly Wiggly store. “You probably have seen the AC units, and the compressors for the meat department,” City Administrator Dan Miner said. “There are several mechanical things there that are sitting on city property.”
The abandonment will turn that property back over to the original owners, while the city will still maintain a 20-foot lane through the alley. The ordinance will be read again at the next council meeting, which will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10.
Mayor Linda Cain also read a proclamation declaring November “National Home Care Month,” and the council approved the resignation of Planning & Zoning Committee member Jim Gollehon and the appointment of Rebecca Cousson to the committee.