The Town of Southern Pines is conducting a study on town-owned lands and voted April 13 at its regular town council meeting to exempt the Development Financing Initiative (DFI) Phase 2 Study from evaluation because the fee is under $50,000.
DFI is an organization with the University of North Carolina School of Government.
The study is a market analysis on 36-plus acres owned by Southern Pines at the intersections of Henley Street and Morganton Road. After the analysis on how the land will best serve the community, the town will market the DFI plans to potential developers, sell the land and development will begin.
During public comments at Tuesday’s meeting, the town discussed whether to vacate an unimproved 80-foot section of right-of-way for West Massachusetts Avenue and South Glover Street. There are no plans for future use or improvement of the unimproved section near the Moore County School property. The town will vote on April 26.
There were no significant public comments on the unimproved section.
John Birath, on behalf of Moore County Schools Board of Education requests abandonment of a section of an 80-foot unimproved right-of-way, April 13 at the Town of Southern Pines meeting, for West Massachusetts Avenue and South Glover Street bounded by West Indiana Avenue, West New York Avenue, and South Carlisle Street.
In other business, the town voted to pass a speed reduction ordinance.
It was passed after 75% of Talamore community residents signed petitions to reduce the speed from 35 to 25 MPH, and a public hearing was held about it last month. Beginning May 1, the speed limit on Talamore Drive and Highland View Drive will be 25 MPH.
During public comments, Mr. Rich, who identified as being from the Westside of Southern Pines, said people living on $800 to $1,000 a month have trouble paying for water and garbage collection services.
“If you run the numbers on a household with $800 a month, over ten years, if those numbers stay static (increases in town services), people have to pay about 2.5 [percent] of their disposable income just to have the trash picked up and drink water,” Rich said. “That to me is outrageous.”
Rich said he wanted consideration for the people living on $800 to $1,000 a month because they were coming out of the pandemic and that rates have gone up the last 15 years.
Council members said the services had not increased each year and said the financial records reflect increases.
Financial records show that in FY 2019-20, the water rates increased for the first time in five years by 3%.
In January 2021, the consumable water rate increased 3%, which equates to the average consumer using 5,000 gallons per month would see an increase of $4.75 or $57 per year. Water and sewer availability at the curb rates increased to $19 per month.
The increases in water rates were needed to offset repairs, build additional lines for new developments, meet safety guidelines and maintain operating costs, according to the town’s financial records.
Garbage pick-up, listed as waste disposal fees in the town’s financial records, increased from $9.50 to $11.50 beginning in January 2021 to cover the expenses of maintaining public safety and to honor the waste contract.
The town considered the pandemic struggles, noted the consideration in the executive budget explanation and delayed the increases until Janaury 2021.
After the public comments, the council held a closed meeting to discuss a potential economic development incentive.
Feature photo: The Town of Southern Pines conducts a land-use study April 13, 2021 with the University of North Carolina School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI) on the 36-plus acres indicated in blue on this map.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.