Newland Communities has shown a penchant for moving quickly. The town of Wendell must now do likewise.
Just one week after the company assumed the developer’s agreement for the Wendell Falls site, they closed on their purchase of the property, a $34 million steal that already has major roads and infrastructure in place.
Assuming the truth of the adage that time is money, it seems likely Newland will look to move quickly toward beginning the actual development process.
And therein lies the challenge for town leaders.
Based on the company’s own projections, the project’s build out will take 10 to 12 years. Based on the 4,000-home projection, that’s between 350 and 400 new houses a year, a figure that would absolutely dwarf the workload of town staffers in recent years – even before the housing bubble burst.
Town Manager Teresa Piner knows a project of this magnitude will require more manpower on the town’s part, not only in the short term, but in the long term as well.
The planning department, of course, will be hit first as developers and builders bring plans and work through specific problems.
As the development grows, more demands will fall on the police department to patrol the area and solve the crimes that occur.
While Piner may realize all these demands are coming, the question remains whether commissioners fully understand the level of need and what the cost will be to the town.
Historically, the town commission has been loath to add new positions and make significant increases on the spending side of the budget.
There seems little doubt they will have to make some of those commitments now.
And because some of those expenses will be incurred before the town’s tax revenue rises significantly, commissioners should start thinking now about how they will address the rising demand for services in the coming year.
It’s a challenging question, we agree. But it’s not one the town board can afford to ignore.