Development rules stall property sale

mhankerson@newsobserver.comFebruary 4, 2014 

— Tom Wall has lived in Knightdale all 75 years of his life. He’s spent the last 12 trying to sell his land off Old Faison Road behind the Mingo Creek subdivision.

It should be a simple process to sell the land – development companies have expressed interest in the property, it’s a few tire rotations from Interstate 440 and not far from Knightdale’s retail hub, the Shoppes at Midway Plantation.

But before any developers break ground on any sort of housing, they would have to invest almost half a million dollars to build up public infrastructure, like the extension of Mingo Creek Boulevard back to Hodge Road..

It’s an investment that Wall said has stopped anyone from closing a deal on his property.

The town says it’s not their job to continue the street.

In addition to the money needed to construct a street, the route for a street goes through someone else’s property, meaning Wall (or a developer) would have to shell out money to purchase that land in addition to the money needed to build the road according to Knightdale standards.

According to the town, this is normal protocol. Wall said he thinks it’s a way to get him to pay for the town’s past oversights.

The question of a second entrance

Access into and around the Mingo Creek subdivision has been in question since the subdivision was built.

Initially, fire chief Tim Guffey saw an issue with access for emergency vehicles. With only one entrance into division, he was worried about traffic problems.

Now, as Wall is finding out, it’s also causing problems for development.

Wall said there were brokers who had development companies interested in building affordable housing on his property. The deals never happened though, because the real estate company was worried about the upfront costs of continuing Mingo Bluff Boulevard to create a second entrance into the proposed additional development.

In personal emails provided by Wall, Indiana-based developer Bill Parrish indicated that even though Wall’s property was well-kept and in a good location, the price of continuing Mingo Bluff Boulevard would be too much for him to purchase.

“My projected revenues would not (support) my debt requirements,” Parrish said of the property. Parrish want to build an affordable housing development but wasn’t sure the development would recoup the more than $480,000 he would have to put down to fix the street problem in addition to other costs the development would incur.

Developers in Knightdale have to refer to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, a set of rules and regulations that dictate how developments are planned, among other things, when planning a project.

Within those requirements, developers are required to provide some sort of access into their developments, Knightdale Planning Director Chris Hills said.

“It’s something that has to happen one way or another,” Hills said.

In this case, the access into a development on Wall’s land would also provide another entrance and exit from Mingo Creek.

Hills said in most towns, because of budget constraints, towns rely on state construction or development to help build up public infrastructure, like roads.

According to Parrish, it’s normal for towns to require development companies to pay for infrastructure construction. He said it’s normal for developers to complete streets or sidewalks and then dedicate those public areas to towns when they’re complete.

“I didn’t think what was required was out of the ordinary,” he said. “(Towns) do have monetary restraints and as they have developmental growth, they pass the financial cost on to the developer.”

Paying for a mistake

Under North Carolina’s fire code, any subdivision with more than 90 units has to have two entrances. The town said that wasn’t a requirement when Mingo Creek was constructed, which is why there’s still only one entrance.

Wall said the town is actually just waiting for him to pay for their mistake.

Reports published by the Eastern Wake News in 2007 say that Knightdale fire Chief Tim Guffey asked the town to add more entrances during the review process to allow for better emergency vehicle access.

He was told it couldn’t be done because the original site plan had been approved without a second entrance.

While Mingo Creek was being planned, two entrances weren’t required. By 2007, the fire code had been revised to mandate two entrances.

Guffey said developers have no obligation to bring their projects up to the most recent code. As long as the construction plans abide by the code used at the time the plans were approved, they are considered OK.


Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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