The Town Council took two quality-of-life votes at its last meeting, bringing a farmers market to town and arranging for more money dedicated to parks and greenways.
The Western Wake Farmers Market will be relocating from Cary to Morrisville, with the help of a $210,000 grant from the John Rex Endowment. The move will likely occur in 2017.
The town council voted 6-1 July 28 to allow the farmers market to set up a temporary site on Town Hall Drive, near the fire station and where the town plans to eventually build a large town center – possibly with a library, rec center, apartments and shopping.
Council member Michael Schlink voted no.
He said the plan requires too much parking – 130 spaces – to be able to coexist with all those other draws. Since the permanent site might have to be elsewhere, such as on Church Street, Schlink said, it only makes sense to put the temporary site there as well.
Schlink said he wants to have a farmers market but doesn’t like the current plan of putting it at the town center site.
He said he fears the plan will cost more than the grant provides – and that the Town Council will vote in the future to provide the rest of the funding.
“We shouldn’t be treating this individual group separate from others in town,” Schlink said. “I’m sure that for $210,000 we’re not going to be able to get 130 parking spaces and all the other things they want. And then I think we’ll just run into a quandary of a slippery slope, with the next non-profit coming in and saying, ‘You helped them, why won’t you help us?’”
Council member Vicki Scroggins-Johnson, though, said the farmers market will lose the entire grant if it doesn’t have a location by the end of the grant in August 2017. Since the council already studied the Town Hall Drive site, she said, it makes sense to go there and not lose more time trying to find a new, equally suitable location.
Mayor Mark Stohlman said even if the farmers market eventually moves, the parking they build at the town center site will help Morrisville’s future development.
“There were always plans for this lot to be additional parking,” Stohlman said.
Council member TJ Cawley ultimately made the motion, with a pun.
“I’m looking forward to a fruitful partnership,” he said.
More money for parks
The Town Council recently asked the N.C. General Assembly to allow Morrisville to charge a fee, called a payment-in-lieu, to developers of multifamily housing complexes like apartments and townhouses.
The fee, which the town council officially set at Tuesday’s meeting, will likely bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for every new complex built.
The fee is based on a three-year average of land prices and thus will fluctuate from year to year. This year, based on the formula adopted Tuesday, developers will be charged $1,610.65 per unit.
Elected leaders and town staffers said they don’t believe the new fee will discourage development.
Liz Johnson, the mayor pro tem, said she got an email from the Triangle Apartment Association about the new fee.
“They get it, they’re accepting that there will be a payment-in-lieu fee,” but didn’t like all the details the town was using in its formula to set the fees, Johnson said.
Cary is the only other nearby town that charges a similar fee. It is hundreds of dollars per unit higher than Morrisville’s.
“I think most (developers) are going to be willing to accept it,” Morrisville town planner Courtney Tanner said. “But they’ll ask for concessions somewhere else,” such as less strict design rules.
“That’s another conversation, probably for another day,” Tanner added.
With an apartment complex with 200 units, at the current year’s fee rate, the developer would have to pay Morrisville $322,130 – on top of other already existing fees. The money must be used on building new parks and trails, or putting in additions and renovations to existing parks.
The three-year average used in the formula was a compromise between two sides, with some originally advocating for a more aggressive one-year formula and others suggesting a more stable five-year average. The formula could be changed by a future town council, but Stohlman cautioned against that.
“I don’t want to be changing it every year,” he said. “I think people are looking for some consistency.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran