The town council voted last week to approve a resolution that would ease restrictions on residential growth in the town’s water-sewer allocation policy.
The policy goes into effect immediately, and developers are now able to double the amount of water they can get from the town for new homes.
Council members and staff are hoping that the change in policy will jump start a housing market in Garner that has been relatively slow compared to most areas in the Triangle.
“So what we’re reacting to is trying to make some changes to this policy that makes it a little bit more usable and flexible to try to encourage people to come into the community,” Planning Director Brad Bass said in December when introducing the proposal to the town.
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The original policy, established in 1990, was designed to encourage non-residential growth as a means to improve the mix of the town’s tax base.
It allocated 75,000 gallons of water per day for a year to the whole town for residential buildings. That means only 300 houses could be built in the town per year based on the amount of water and sewage a residential property would typically use.
The new policy doubles that and also allows for more houses to be developed in a subdivision and at a quicker rate. The town will use some of the water it has saved up over the past few years.
“When these developers are looking at these subdivisions, if they can only build only 20 or 30 houses or year, they are not interested in that,” council member Gra Singleton said. “Some developers like to (build) 10 homes a month and we capped them off at 30 a year and that wasn’t doing it.”
Many times it would take developers twice as long to build subdivisions. That, too, would shy them away.
The new policy also encourages a mix of homes, including upper-end homes. It allows people to do a large project in the time frame they are able to do it in other communities, Singleton said.
Garner currently contracts its water and sewer services with the City of Raleigh and the city allocates only a certain amount to each town that it contracts with. For the last few years, Apex and Cary saw huge increases in their housing markets. Garner wants to be that some day, especially as new businesses like Cabela’s and Overland Contractors come to the area.
But the old policy prevented that, Singleton said.
He said the new policy will ultimately help with the town’s growth.
“As one of my former colleagues on the council once said, ‘If you can’t flush, you can’t grow.’ Meaning you have to have sewer capacity to grow,” Singleton said. “We’re trying to encourage people to come here. Businesses and job opportunities will follow.”