TCC "in the KNOW" May 2017 Issue

May 2017 Updates

State:

  • Two bills that proposed to strip North Carolina counties and municipalities of their authority to impose impact and other regulatory fees on new construction, House Bills 406 and 436 passed the House ahead of the upcoming crossover deadline.  Bills that have not passed from one chamber to the other by the self-imposed deadline, are effectively dead for the remainder of the legislative session.  The bills will now move to the Senate.  There is no timeline for when a vote could be held in that chamber.  There is also no indication of whether Gov. Cooper would veto either bill.
  • The $22.9 billion budget for North Carolina state government for the 2017-18 fiscal year was tentatively approved the state Senate.   The two-year budget bill also covers the 2018-19 fiscal year, but those provisions can be altered by the General Assembly when it meets next year.
    • Highlights:
      • Reduce individual income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent in 2018.
      • Increase standard deductions for individual income tax filers.
      • Lower corporate income tax rate from 3 percent to 2.75 percent in 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019.
      • Overhauls and reduces business franchise tax, creating flat $200 tax on first $1 million of a business' net worth.

Regional:

  • Swiss-based Credit Suisse will invest $70.5 million to expand its operations in Research Triangle Park.  The company plans to create 1,200 new jobs during the next several years.
  • The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved the Orange County Transit Plan at a recent work session.  The 5-2 vote will allow the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (DOLRT) project to move forward.  The board also approved the Durham-Orange Light Rail Cost Sharing Agreement, which calls for Durham to pay 81.5 percent of the local construction costs and Orange to pay 16.5 percent.  The remaining 2 percent will be funded by a community collaborative.

Orange County:

  • The Orange County County-wide revaluation of real property will go into effect for fiscal 2018 tax year.  Individual taxpayers will see their tax bill change depending on the change in the valuation of their property.

Wake County:

  • The county manager’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget totals $1.26 billion, an increase of $61.4 million over the FY ‘17 budget.  It would require a 1.45-cent property tax increase for a total proposed rate of 61.5 cents for every $100 of property value.
  • In a unanimous vote at its regular meeting on Monday, May 1, the Wake County Board of Commissioners adopted the 2017 Wake County Greenway System Plan and the 2017 Wake County Park Facility Master Plan.   The development of the Greenway System Plan began in the fall of 2015.  The vision for the plan is to create a connected and comprehensive system of greenway trails that will enhance quality of life throughout the county.  The master plan updates and continues the vision from the county’s 2008 Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan.  The 2017 plan evaluates how each of the county’s nine park facilities can better help residents and visitors enjoy the county’s natural and cultural resources.

Apex:

  • The town held a public hearing on why and how it wants to widen a section of N.C. Highway 55 in the town.  The highway is often congested, but engineers hope a plan to widen it between U.S. Highway 1 and Olive Chapel Road could ease some travel headaches for residents.  Construction most likely won’t begin until 2021.
  • Lennar Carolinas has acquired a 225-acre family-owned farm near Apex for $26 million, on which it plans to build an agrihood community.  The upcoming Smith Farms community will contain 560 new homes at full build-out, which will range in price from the $300,000s to the $600,000s.  A portion of the property will be set aside as a working farm, with raised beds available for lease to farmers and community gardens for residents.
  • No change in the current tax rate of $0.38 is recommended for FY 2017-18.  A small increase is proposed for yard waste, recycling, and trash collection.  There are also some modest changes in development related fees. 

Cary:

  • The town’s planning board sided with neighbors last month when it voted 5-3 to not recommend approval of the West Cary Habitat for Humanity project.  The Cary Town Council is set to vote on the plan later this spring.  Habitat’s original proposal called for 23 attached homes, but the group lowered the number to 15, and then to nine single family homes, after hearing concerns from neighbors.  The nine homes would be detached single-family dwellings.
  • Second Phase of Downtown Park Discussion Take-a-ways:
    • With the approval of the 2012 community bonds, a master plan for the downtown park was completed.
    • The downtown plan called for a 7 acre signature park.
    • Phase 1 of the park was designated for a town square, a central fountain, outdoor performance space, open lawn, and side garden areas.
    • Adjacent to the southern edge of the park will be the future Cary Regional Library and parking deck.
    • In 2016 council approved the concept for the library and parking deck which will include an art wall that will face the next phase of the park.
    • The library and parking deck are about 65% complete in design.
    • Council recently held a work session to approve a process to move ahead with an update to the downtown park master plan.
    • Staff met over 6 weeks to discuss ideas and research nationally-recognized parks.  They presented their findings to council at a work session.
    • The team concluded that when the downtown park is completed it has the potential to be a defining civic space for Cary.
    • To achieve this goal, the planning process must thoughtfully consider the relationship between the park elements and the surrounding development (existing and future).
    • A nationally-recognized firm will be selected to oversee the planning of the update to the Downtown Park Master Plan.
    • Council approved staff recommendations of several design firms who have created award-winning parks and public spaces in cities across the United States.
  • March Development Report:
    • Year to date square footage approved for office is 43,024 and for commercial is 148,248.
    • Year to date types of approved housing include no multi-family, 229 single family, and 201 townhomes.
    • 94 single family permits were issued in March.
    • The average single family dwelling in March was 3891 square feet compared to 4052 square feet in March of 2013.
    • Cary had 9.7% of the single family permits in Wake County.  This was 5th behind Raleigh, Fuquay Varina, Apex, and Wake Forest.
  • IKEA has announced that they are seeking to build its second store in North Carolina on 15 acres that was once occupied by Sears and Macy’s at the Cary Towne Center.  The project has to undergo a rezoning and then site plans in order to get approvals to construct.  The store isn’t anticipated to open until 2020.  This is a vital part of the Eastern Gateway to Cary to redevelop the area around Cary Towne Center.
  • Wegman’s has also indicated a desire to be part of the property north of the Cary Towne Center as part of a mixed use development that will also bring other businesses and retailers to make Cary’s Eastern Gateway a vibrant and walkable destination off of Interstate 40. 

Chapel Hill:

  • The Council will continue a public hearing, originally held April 17, for a Zoning Atlas Amendment from an applicant interested in rezoning about 13,000 sq. ft. of land at 302-304 Ransom St. and 301 McCauley St.  The rezoning would allow the applicant to subdivide the property into two lots.  Upon closing the public hearing, the Council will consider approving the zoning atlas amendment.
  • The Council will consider adopting the West Rosemary Street Development Guide as a component of the Town’s comprehensive plan.  The guide is a vision for future development along the West Rosemary Street corridor that is consistent with the vision statements of the Northside Neighborhood Conservation District.
  • Several community members joined the call for the town to put more money into affordable housing next year.  The proposed $106.8 million budget includes $5.2 million for affordable housing and the town’s public housing department, which manages 336 apartments.  However, council members, residents and nonprofit providers have said that’s not enough to slow the decline in housing priced for families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income ($43,980 a year for a family of four).
  • The Chapel Hill Town Council currently holds meetings on Mondays and work sessions on Wednesdays.  But the council is now considering changing those days, and moving meetings to Wednesdays.
  • No Reductions or Additions to Core Services; Commitment to Affordable HousingThe Council received Town Manager Roger Stancil’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.  For the fourth consecutive year, the proposed budget calls for no tax increase, thanks to expected growth in sales tax revenues.  A $6 increase in the annual stormwater fee is included in the recommended budget.  The increase will be used to fund operating costs and to pay for debt service on stormwater general obligation bonds that will be issued to fund priority infrastructure improvement projects including those identified in the Lower Booker Creek Subwatershed Study.

Clayton:

  • Rich Cappola has been hired as the first Town of Clayton Director of Engineering & Inspections.  It’s a new title for a big position, reporting directly to the Town Manager.  Rich will oversee everything that’s built in the Town – from houses, office buildings, grocery stores, water lines, sewer lines, roads and storm drains –projects ranging from the new greenway path beginning at the Clayton Community Center to Novo Nordisk’s $2 billion biopharmaceutical expansion.  His first day was May 30.

Durham (City):

  • A proposed property tax increase in Durham would be used to assist in affordable housing.  City Manager Tom Bonfield proposed a 1.79 cent tax increase for next year’s budget.  This would be roughly $32 more per year for a home valued at $180,000.  The proposed budget adds an extra penny to the city’s dedicated housing fund.  That’s a value of $2.79 million.  After a public hearing on June 5, final budget approval is set for June 19 by the Durham City Council. 
  • The Durham City Council is moving ahead with giving the Durham Housing Authority $4.2 million to buy 20 acres of crumbling foundations for future affordable housing.  The council plans to vote on the grant to Development Ventures Inc., (DVI) a development arm of the Durham Housing Authority, at its June 5 meeting.
  • The Durham City-County Development Services Center (DSC) opened on April 3, as part of ongoing efforts to improve the coordination, predictability, timeliness, and quality of the development review process. The DSC is a “one-stop-shop,” providing permit intake for Planning, Inspections and Public Works, in-person customer service, and quick turn-around for minor planning and building projects.
  • Patrick O. Young, AICP, has been named Director of the Durham City-County Planning Department. Mr. Young joined the department in 2008 as Assistant Director, and led the effort to create the new DSC. Young succeeds Steven Medlin, who retired after 30 years of service to the department. More information on the DSC launch is available here, and the official DSC web site can be found here.

Fuquay-Varina:

  • 2035 Community Vision Land Use Plan - The new plan is necessary to address current and future development trends as well as to manage the physical and fiscal components that form such a plan.  The Board motioned to continue the public hearing and table action until the June 5, 2017 meeting, for further study.
  • Town leaders want to attract a developer to turn select downtown properties into new stores, offices and apartments, while keeping the rustic charm intact.  “We want to bring back what most downtowns were like 50, 60 years ago, with people living above stores on the bottom floor,” said Jim Seymour, Fuquay-Varina’s director of economic development. “We want to have that livable, walkable downtown.”

Garner:

  • The recommended property tax rate for the FY 2017-18 budget remains unchanged at 53.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.  The result of the Town’s growth in assessed valuation at this same property tax rate will provide an additional $566,538 of revenue over the adopted FY 2016-17 budget.
  • Officials from Wake County and the Town of Garner on May 19th encouraged landlords and community organizations to assist residents of an apartment complex in Garner who are in search of affordable housing after receiving notices that they may face eviction.  The owner of Forest Hills Apartments plans to renovate the property and will not accept any form of housing assistance payments when it reopens.  Individuals and families in all 136 apartments must move out by June 15.  Landlords interested in accepting tenants with rental assistance vouchers and residents who want to help can contact the Wake County Housing Division at 919-856-5689.
  • Garner’s new Town Hall is nearing completion. Learn more about the project by viewing a 3-minute video the Town has produced: http://garnernc.gov/Home/Components/News/News/432/17
  • The national nonprofit KaBOOM! has honored the Town of Garner with a Playful City USA designation for the fourth consecutive year. Garner was one of just 11 cities or towns in the state to earn the recognition this year, joining Raleigh and Durham as the only Triangle municipalities to be named a 2017 Playful City USA. The awards program honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. The communities it honors are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.

Holly Springs:

  • The Planning and Zoning Department is accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the Board of Adjustment with someone who lives beyond town limits, but within Holly Springs’ planning jurisdiction.  The deadline to apply is Monday, June 5 for the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) regular member’s seat.
  • The FY 2017-18 proposed budget keeps the tax rate at $0.4325 per $100 valuation.  There is no increase to the water and sewer monthly access fees in the budget.  There is a recommended increase of 2% in the actual utility user rates charged to citizens and Holly Springs businesses/industries.  This proposed fee increase reflects an increase in water costs to the Town of Holly Springs that is being charged by Harnett County.

Raleigh:

  • The FY 2017-18 budget proposal includes a property tax rate increase from 41.8 to 42.5 cents per $100 valuation. If approved, the 0.7-cent increase would generate an additional $4.1 million per year.  Raleigh’s median taxable value for a home is $195,154.  The proposed increase would cost the owner of a median value home an additional $13.68 in City property taxes per year.  The proposed budget also includes increasing the monthly water and sewer bill by 3 percent to support the Public Utilities Department’s efforts to maintain and expand infrastructure as Raleigh grows.  In order to support the Solid Waste Service Department’s improvements and meet the City’s cost recovery goal, the proposed budget includes a 75-cent increase in the monthly residential solid waste collection fee.
  • The city is kicking off an update to the Falls of Neuse Area Plan with a public event that took place on May 24.  The meeting included discussion of the scope of the project and gathered input about what makes the area great and what opportunities exist for improvements.  A second opportunity for input will come in June, with a community workshop aimed at exploring different development scenarios.  That meeting will involve a discussion of market, transportation, and land use analysis findings and how those factors relate to the area.  It also will include interactive activities in order to develop a preferred alternative among the potential scenarios.
  • Raleigh is spending more than $400 million over the next 10 years to replace or upgrade the interceptors, or larger pipes, in its sewage collection system, including those along major waterways such as Crabtree Creek, Walnut Creek and the Neuse River.  Larger pipes also will provide the city with more capacity to accommodate a growing population.

Zebulon:

  • Town staff is proposing a long-range plan for Little River Park that flies in the face of the mayor’s desire to pursue federal funding to repair the historic dam that Hurricane Matthew breached.  A general poll on the two options earlier this month showed most commissioners like the master plan idea more than the repair route, which comes with some uncertainty.  The town has 18 months from the date of the October 2016 storm to complete repairs in order to comply with requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would reimburse 75 percent of the estimated $350,000 cost.  But it would take about two years to rebuild the dam to its previous state, and the town has yet to take any action.