Some Union County Towns No Longer Maintaining Streets in New Subdivisions

The Town of Weddington will no longer accept for maintenance any new subdivision roads or streets within its jurisdiction, according to a resolution approved earlier this month by the Town Council. The town’s decision comes just a few weeks after a similar policy was enacted by the Village of Marvin, and is likely to be replicated in the coming months by other municipalities in Union County.

This highly problematic situation results from a September letter from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) saying that the state would no longer accept and maintain local streets within municipalities in Union County. NCDOT had been accepting new streets for the towns and villages for some time, in direct violation of state law that assigns this responsibility to local government.

Now, towns like Weddington are refusing to take responsibility for roads that they should have already been maintaining under state law. Citing a lack of funds and an unwillingness to raise taxes on existing residents, these communities are essentially telling new homeowners that they will need to set aside funding in an HOA escrow account for long-term maintenance of their streets and sidewalks.

The state annually allocates ‘Powell Bill’ funds to incorporated municipalities that establish their eligibility and qualify as provided by G.S. 136-41.1 through 136-41.4. The general statutes lay out a specific formula whereby funds are disbursed to qualifying municipalities during the fiscal year. Powell Bill funds can only be expended for the purposes of maintaining, repairing, constructing, reconstructing or widening of any street or public thoroughfare within the municipal limits or for planning, construction, and maintenance of bikeways, greenways or sidewalks.

While Weddington did not become eligible for Powell Bill dollars until just this year, the Village of Marvin has been allocated $605,830.30 from this account since 2006. Marvin; however, appears to have not spent the lion’s share of those dollars on road construction and maintenance as its own website states it “received over $200,000 in state funds during the last two years for building trails and sidewalks.”

REBIC is meeting with state and local officials to determine if a solution exists that will keep new homebuyers in Union County from having to fund maintenance of their own subdivision streets. We will keep you posted on our progress on this critical issue in the weeks and months ahead.

Revised Stormwater Manual Goes Into Effect January 1

At its regular meeting on December 19th,the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Advisory Committee (SWAC) approved a package of revisions to the Storm Water Design Manual that provides guidance for the construction of storm water management facilities in the City, County and each of the Towns.

REBIC and our engineer members reviewed the draft revisions earlier this year and support the adoption of the updated manual. Most of the changes addressed inconsistent formatting, outdated methodologies and unclear standards. The new manual takes effect January 1, 2014. You can download it, and see a list of specific revisions, on the County website.

Mecklenburg County Approves Funding for 16 New Code Inspectors

Meck County SealThe Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) last week approved appropriating $1,258.000 in additional permit revenue for the hiring of 16 new positions that Code Enforcement officials say will help the department move toward more collaborative review and inspection of building projects.

The new hires approved by the BOCC will be “hybrid collaborative positions” that will incorporate plan review and inspections for large projects like institutional, multifamily and mixed-used developments. By tapping into the trends toward Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), this new strategy will allow Code Enforcement to better serve these large developments by integrating electronic plan review and field inspections.

Smaller construction projects, while not directly affected by the new service approach, should still benefit from the additional capacity created by the hiring of new inspectors. REBIC supports the new hires, but sees it as one small step among many improvements that are needed in the county’s plan review and inspections process.

We are continuing to work with the County Commission to raise awareness about the need to address problems in the Code Enforcement division, from plan review delays to inspection inconsistencies. Members of the Board last week asked some hard questions of department director Jim Bartl, and Charlotte’s new mayor, Patrick Cannon, has said he will prioritize an initiative to better coordinate development and construction plan review between the City and County.

REBIC Founding Member Inducted into North Carolina Housing Hall of Fame

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The 2013 REBIC Executive Committee presents a resolution to longtime member Tom Pearson (center) in recognition of his induction into
the North Carolina Housing Hall of Fame

Charlotte land developer Tom Pearson, one of REBIC’s earliest members, was recently inducted into the North Carolina Housing Hall of Fame for his leadership in advocating for the home building industry. The ceremony was held on December 3 in Asheville at the Grove Park Inn.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Tom has been a staunch advocate for reasonable regulations to keep homes affordable for the citizens of North Carolina. He helped develop Charlotte’s first bond program to save trees, and also served for many years on the City’s Subdivison Steering Committee, advocating for logical processes and standards that have saved the home building industry time and money. He has also long been a leader and active participant in advocacy efforts at the state and national level.

The REBIC Board of Governors recognized Tom’s achievement with a resolution at its regular meeting on December 10th, in a presentation made by Mark Cramer, the Coalition’s first executive director.  The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas, Tom Pearson has built a successful career over the past three decades in the land development, housing and mortgage industries; and
Whereas, Tom Pearson played an critical role in founding the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (REBIC) in 1987; and
Whereas, Tom Pearson has been a staunch advocate for reasonable regulations to keep homes affordable for the citizens of North Carolina; and
Whereas, Tom Pearson took the lead on many difficult regulatory issues, advocating for processes and standards that have saved the development industry time and money; and
Whereas, Tom Pearson was inducted into the North Carolina Housing Hall of Fame on December 2nd, 2013, in a ceremony at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn:
Now Therefore Let it Be Resolved, that the REBIC Board of Governors wishes to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for Tom Pearson’s dedication to the Charlotte real estate industry and the advocacy efforts of this organization.

This Resolution is unanimously adopted this 10th day of December, 2013.

Town of Matthews to Allow Expanded Use of Real Estate Signage

Beginning April 1st, the Town of Matthews will allow Realtors® and home builders to use Weekend Directional Signs to market their homes, after the Board of Commissioners adopted a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that removes restrictions that had been in place for years.

 

is in the process of bringing together all of its land use regulations into one comprehensive document. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) combines zoning and subdivision regulations, with stormwater codes, minimum housing provisions, and flood prevention regulations. A draft of the document may be found HERE.

REBIC staff is in the process of reviewing the document and will provide comments to the Town Council at the initial public hearing on Monday, October 14th at 7:00 p.m.

We we support the concept of the UDO, we have concerns with some of the language in the draft, particularly in the section regulating signage. However, from discussions we have had over the past few months with the Mayor and members of Council, we are hopeful that the Town will consider adopting a new program allowing Weekend Directional Signs (WEDS) for home builders in conjunction with the UDO.

The UDO is expected to come up for a vote in November, with implementation set for January 2015. In addition to consolidating the Town’s existing zoning and development language in a single document, it also creates a number of “conditional-only” zoning districts that would more easily accommodate a mix of uses and home styles. Zoning to one of these districts would be voluntary on the part of the property owner or developer, and would require compliance with street layout and non-residential building design standards established in the code.

We would very much appreciate your thoughts on the draft UDO so we may assist in communicating your concerns to Council and staff as the process plays out. If you have any input, questions, or concerns, please contact Rob Nanfelt, REBIC Government Affairs Manager, rob.nanfelt@rebic.com or (720) 771-3825. You are also encouraged to attend Monday night’s public hearing to share your thoughts with Council.

Cornelius Town Board to Consider Changes to Land Use Plan Update

At its reCornelius Logogular meeting tonight, the Cornelius Town Board will hold a public hearing and vote on a Land Use Plan update that will guide development for the next decade in the north Mecklenburg municipality.

The Town’s Planning Board has spent months working with Planning Director Wayne Herron and outside consultant Clarion & Associates to update the Land Use Plan, which was first adopted in 1999.

Some of the key changes under consideration include:

  • A new medium density category has been created that supports single family uses only, no multi-family. This new category has been applied to the north side of Bailey Road.
  • The proposed density for the Low-Density Rural category has been changed from two acre minimum lot size to a three acre minimum lot size.
  • Reducing the size of the Waterfront Mixed Use district along West Catawba Avenue, and returning the Cashion property at U.S. 21 and Washam Potts Road to Medium Density Residential.
  • Along Bailey Road, staff is returning to its original recommendation of Medium Density near the schools and parks and further added some Low Density Single Family just below the High School.
  • The area along Mayes Road at Highway 73 is recommended to be Low Density Single Family.
  • Allowing for increased residential densities in the geography east of NC 115, where 5-acre minimum lot sizes are now required.

The Town Board will meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., and will hold a third and final public hearing ahead of the Board vote on the new plan. Any Realtors®, home builders or developers who are currently doing business in the Town of Cornelius are strongly encouraged to attend that evening and make their voice heard!

The most recent draft of the land use plan is available for review HERE. You can download an updated copy of the land use map HERE.