TCC Coffee Chat with Town of Holly Springs

The Triangle Community Coalition had another successful Coffee Chat with Town of Holly Spring on Wednesday, August 9, 2017!

Joining our members in an informal chat were Mayor Dick Sears, Councilor Jimmy Cobbs,
Councilor Pete Villadsen, Town Manager Chuck Simmons, Economic Development Director Irena Krstanovic, Director of Engineering Kendra Parrish, Director Public Affairs & Communications Joni Powell, Beth Trautz, Planning and Zoning Department, Adam Huffman, Parks & Rec Department.

We provided the Town of Holly Springs with a better perspective of the Triangle Community Coalition's goal to be a proactive partner in growth and land use issues and to work with senior staff and elected officials to develop policies, regulations, and procedures to encourage economic development, produce predictable (yet flexible) outcomes for all stakeholders, and protect the community's interests. 

The Town of Holly Springs appreciated the TCC’s ability to offer objective facts and information in efforts to improve public policy debates and create effective working relationships between the business community and local government.  We had some great interaction with the TCC membership in attendance and had opportunity to talk about the following:

Mayor Dick Sears:

         ·         Noted that Holly Springs grew from around 1,000 in 1990 to the current population of 35K

         ·         Holly Springs has a pro-growth goal and their town saying is “Holly Springs - where no one has to leave unless they want to”

         ·         A new hospital is scheduled to start construction in 2018

         ·         Noted that their Director of Engineering Department won “Engineer of the Year”

Town Manager Chuck Simmons:

·        Holly Springs is focused on citizens’ quality of life issues for the next 5-10 years

·        The Town is staying ahead of sewer/water needs – the challenge is to stay ahead of the infrastructure needs focusing on highway improvements

·        Holly Springs is investing in educating the public and communications, using social media tools

·        Holly Springs one of the safest communities in the area

·        Will build new soccer fields and stadium with the $20 million parks & rec bond funds

·        The Hunt Recreation Center replaced an old school next to Womble Park and meets the Town’s  recreation needs for the next 20 years

·        15 years ago Holly Springs’ $800 million tax base was 90% residential. Today commercial alone has a tax value of $800 million and as a percentage of the Town’s tax base has grown to 20%

·        Holly Springs is a sustainable community

Economic Development Director Irena Krstanovic:

         ·         Holly Springs was one of the first municipalities to have an Economic Development Director

         ·         In 2002 Holly Springs certified 400 acres for a business park which is now 100% occupied.

         ·         Industrial recruitment requires rooftops first.

         ·         In 2010 Holly Springs was the #1 job creator (by percentage growth) in Wake County

         ·         Holly Springs doesn’t have a “traditional” downtown but has the opportunity to build one and is targeting local investors/developers to come to the ‘”downtown” area to build. The goal is to build 100k square feet commercial space in the next couple of years, creating approximately 100 new jobs

Town Manager Chuck Simmons notes that a local investor created a “Coworking Station” and is adding additional co-working space in the near future.

Engineering Director Kendra Parrish:

·        Holly Springs has access to 12 million gallons per day of water and is currently only using 2.5 million gallons per day

·        Wastewater usage is 6 million gallons per day with availability of up to 8 million gallons.  Holly Springs has several wastewater projects in the works

·        Planning a 2018 transportation bond for improvements with currently only 2 grants available to help with transportation improvements

·        The completion of the extension of 540 due to finish in 2021

·        Holly Springs has a great working relationship with NCDOT and Director James Trogdon, resulting in faster communications between the state and Holly Springs

·        Working on an east/west connector for the by-pass (I don’t know what bypass you are referring to)

Planning and Zoning Beth Trautz:

         ·         Development submittals – Holly Springs has a published timetable for the approval process that it strives to meet.

         ·         Holly Springs would like to hear ideas from the development community to help streamline the approval process

         ·         Holly Springs is now testing electronic submittals

         ·         Currently if a minor plan amendment is made to the construction drawings, staff can address without restarting the review process

         ·         Inspectors in the field have discretion to make decisions depending on their experience

         ·         Keeping the development approval process moving also helps the Holly Springs staff from getting backed up

         ·         A new gymnasium complex is being planned near Ting Park

         ·         The new public works center to house 50 Holly Springs employees

         ·         Coming in fall 2017 will be a series of “wayfinding” signs around Town to welcome visitors and new Holly Springs residents

         ·         The Mims Park storm water device is under design with project completion estimated in spring 2018.  Holly Springs put out to bid and did not receive any response.  Will relook the plans and re-bid.

Town Manager Chuck Simmons commented that educating local legislators to transportation needs in a rapidly growing area is essential.

TCC Discussion:

         ·         TCC members asked Holly Springs their build-out population projection.  The Town replied that they are currently working on updating the numbers.  They estimate that the Town is adding an average of 1800 new people per year with an ultimate build out of around 60,000.

         ·         TCC members noted that Holly Springs’ construction specifications make it one of the more expensive municipalities in which to develop.  The staff noted that they have adjusted their specifications to address past lessons learned.  They stated that the Town would like to engage the development community to discuss why it is so expensive and to come up with alternate methods.  Holly Springs Staff will reach out to TCC members as they go forward with this effort

         ·         TCC member noted that the Parks and Rec fee changed from $1,500 to $3,000 per home with no notification to, nor consultation with, the development community.  The TCC is looking for an official notification and fee revision process along the lines used by Raleigh during their recent Fee Review process.  Holly Spring invited the development community to join their “Notify Me” on their website homepage to get the most recent updates.  Paul Kane also invited the town staff to use the HBA as a conduit to help reach the development community

         ·         TCC Members on the Wake County Affordable Housing Steering Committee noted that higher density is needed in every municipality because land, development and construction costs are not going down.

         ·         TCC members asked if there was a way for the town to increase their credit card limit.

Holly Springs staff noted that currently credit card fees are passed on to the town.  Staff committed to looking into increasing the amount and possibly passing the fees onto to the user.

         ·         TCC members asked if the Parks and Rec fees could be charged at house permit rather than up-front at plat recordation.  The Town will look into this.

         ·         TCC members asked for the Town’s vision for the Southwest area of Holly Springs, an area for which the Town is not currently processing rezoning requests.  Holly Spring replied that they would start with public and internal meetings.  Educate and engage the public for input to include changes and use of existing land, transportation impacts, needs for rezoning or if it meets current zoning to move forward.

         ·         TCC and HBA to be at the table during these meetings to include their input. 

Jacob Rogers noted that development is not creating housing demand but responding to the need.