Early voting for Brentwood’s municipal election begins this coming Wednesday, April 12. The election itself will take place on May 2.
As part of the Brentwood Home Page’s election coverage, we sent each of the four candidates running for Brentwood’s three open City Commission seats a series of questions related to policy issues in the city.
Two of the questions were drawn up by staff members, while a third came from the Brentwood Home Page’s new What’s Up With That? platform.
Today we are posting the candidates’ answers to the first question we sent them. Next Monday and Tuesday, we will post the answers to the second and third questions.
QUESTION #1: This question comes from a Brentwood Home Page reader: “Brentwood has a very large population of folks who would love to ‘age in our town.’ Who can offer some creative, cost effective options?”
John Byers: The retirement community are vital members of Brentwood, and are a part of the fabric that built our great city. These residents remain a part of the DNA that makes this such a wonderful place to live, and if they have a desire to remain in Brentwood, it is our responsibility as the commission to give them that option. I’m not sure of THE correct solution, but considering options that may have not been considered in the past (or some that have been proposed) is a must. Perhaps we consider options around less than 1 acre lots for the 55+ age demographic. This is going to require challenging the way we have always thought in Brentwood while looking to the future, and we have to be willing to have the courageous conversations with the community and with developers of successful senior communities to satisfy the lifestyle of these critical residents that helped to build Brentwood.
Mark Gorman: The City Commission and City staff regularly look at options to enrich the lives of every resident in Brentwood. Seniors each have their own individual hopes, desires and lifestyles. Most want to stay in their home as long as possible and maintain an active lifestyle as long as possible. There is not a magic, one-size-fits-all approach. Brentwood currently allows senior housing to be constructed in the future and we currently have a number of facilities in the City that currently serve a range of needs. Facilities like the Heritage, Southerland Place, the Wellington, Morning Pointe, the Martin Center, among many other home health and senior service providers are located in the city limits of Brentwood. We also have a number of townhome and OSRD developments with small lots and common area green space. As we often explore options, the City hosted a number of forums last year to discuss allowing higher density, as two or three developers wanted to explore changing the City’s zoning standards to allow multiple homes per acre. Residents were overwhelmingly against increasing density and allowing infill that might adversely impact city infrastructure and zoning. One idea that I am currently working on is a directory of senior services provided by businesses in the Brentwood area that would include services like Shipt for grocery delivery, Uber and Lyft for travel, and other entrepreneurial ideas to bring about a greater awareness of the available services.
Rhea Little: The key to this question is the phrase “Cost Effective.” Senior Housing is something I have studied and worked with since the early 2000s. It is an issue that the Commission intensely studied and worked with during the last two and a half years. As we strive to create a zoning that will allow for senior housing we also must continue to do it in a way that protects and continues our strict development standards that have made Brentwood unique. We currently have OSRD-IP zoning that was developed to allow for the type of house that would appeal to seniors. However, it does not and should not set a market price. Because of the desirability of Brentwood as a place to live, these homes are usually coveted and end up carrying a high value. We’ve explored age-restricted communities, communities with smaller lots, etc. but were unable to obtain a widespread consensus in the community of what the senior housing ordinances and regulations should look like. I feel that without a widespread consensus on what a senior housing development should be, we will not at this point have specific senior housing; however, I am committed to continue to study, work and explore ways to facilitate senior housing while staying true to Brentwood’s high development standards.
Regina Smithson: In any type of sales, cost goes down when more people are buying. That translates into higher density when you are talking about real estate. That has always been the dilemma. You cannot have lower cost without large numbers of people occupying those homes. The exception is government housing. I don’t see that happening in Brentwood.
While there will undoubtedly be some assisted living type situations that will occur in the community, cost effective single family housing is almost priced out of Brentwood due to a single lot alone being in the $200,000 range.
As in the past I will continue to support one-acre density. This is what has made Brentwood the open green space community it is today.