Mount Airy's planning and zoning commission has recommended to the Town Council a set of zoning change guidelines allowing senior citizen housing in town limits.
The changes, proposed by the town's Senior Housing Committee Monday night, would allow detached housing, town houses and attached homes with up to four units as special exceptions in low-density residential zoning.
They also would add convalescent homes as special exceptions in medium-density areas.
Currently, the only two provisions for senior housing -- both special exceptions -- are convalescent homes in high-density residential or commercial areas and apartments for the elderly in medium-density areas, said town planner Teresa Bamberger.
The lack of senior housing in Mount Airy led the mayor and council to appoint a committee to look into the matter several months ago, she said.
Committee members hope the changes will make it easier to stimulate development of housing complexes for older people.
"I think some of the older persons in town are looking to make a move and would like to have housing in town," Ms. Bamberger said Monday afternoon.
Senior Housing Committee member Oscar Baker, 70, agreed.
"I was born here, and I want to stay here," he said at the meeting.
Mr. Baker also urged the commission to work with the committee and the council to get the ordinance passed quickly.
"When you get to this age, you don't have a lot of time," he said with a laugh. "[Committee members] don't want this to drag out. I think if we work together we can work something out."
However, town resident Norman Hammond, who said he is in favor of senior housing, likened the regulations to creating a ghetto for older people.
"Senior housing is set up by the financial plans the developer can get," he said.