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Tarboro adopts new housing incentives

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 11, 2019

TARBORO — The Town of Tarboro took a step to help stimulate new home construction on Monday through the passage of an ordinance to promote residential development investment.

The vote by the Town Council was a unanimous 7-0, as Ward 8 Councilman Garland Shepheard was absent.

Town Manager Troy Lewis said the purpose of the policy was to stimulate residential development in the community “given the lack of available housing and the potential increase in population from economic development.”

Lewis was referring to two commercial developments that will carry Tarboro addresses — Triangle Tire with its 800 direct jobs and estimated 400 associated jobs, and Corning with its 111 jobs.

Developer Charles Ainsley, the only person to speak at the public hearing, told council members he appreciated them looking at the ordinance and housing issue.

“We need to do something,” he said. “If we start tomorrow, we’d need a year and a half (to get something done). We need houses right now.”

Under the terms of the ordinance, the town will participate in 50 percent of the cost of the installation of water, sewer and street improvements on a reimbursement basis.

Reimbursement will be provided on a per-structure basis upon the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for each dwelling unit in a Planned Residential Development (PRD), which must contain at least 25 houses.

As an example, a 50-lot PRD with a $500,000 total cost for water, sewer and streets would be reimbursed up to $250,000 — paid out at $5,000 for each certificate of occupancy. All reimbursements must be distributed within five years.

Ainsley asked when the five-year clock would start and Lewis said it would begin with the issuance of the first building permit in the PRD.

Ainsley then asked about the possibility of providing the assistance on the front end of the project, rather than the back.

“The developer needs help on the front end to get it off the ground,” he told council members.

He also asked, “If you do 50 or 100 (houses), can you extend that five years?”

Town Attorney Chad Hinton suggested a phased development but Ainsley said that phasing would not offer an economy of scale.

“You could do 25 (homes) in Phase I for, say, $700,000 and you could do 25 more in Phase II for another $700,000 while you could do all 50 for probably $1 million,” he said.

Ainsley mentioned a number of houses he recently has built and a number more to be built along Western Boulevard and said he has a project in mind for a development he is calling Belvedere Subdivision, located north of Vidant Edgecombe Hospital and containing “50-something lots.”

Ainsley said the houses would range in size from 1,100 to 1,600 square feet and cost between $120,000 to $170,000.

Lewis said the developer has an incentive to get the project going “because he doesn’t get anything until something’s on the ground.”

“It will take the town a lot longer to get its money back,” Ward 4 Councilman C.B. Brown said. “The developer will get his money back as soon as he sells (a unit).”

In the end, council members approved an ordinance that allows a five-year window for reimbursement on 25-lot PRDs and a 10-year window on 50-unit PRDs.

Lewis said the town would look at each project on a case-by-case basis and would have to weigh each project on its merits and effect.

“We obviously can’t afford to have five going on at once,” he said.

In other action, the council:

Unanimously approved a new animal control ordinance, adopting many of the rules recently established by Edgecombe County but rejecting others.

Held the annual performance review of Lewis and unanimously extended his employment agreement with a 3 percent raise, which will be applied to his salary that was just modified with a 2 percent cost-of-living raise.

Unanimously approved a contract application between the town and the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program which will make a $20,000 grant available to purchase three Watch Guard camera systems to be installed in existing police vehicles.

Approved changing the August meeting from Aug. 12 to Aug. 19 because of a conflict with the ElectriCities Annual Conference on Aug. 12-14 at Kings Mill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.