The town is still waiting to hear whether the developers of the proposed high-end 90-lot subdivsion across the street from South Garner High want to be annexed in the town.
In the meantime, the council and staff discussed at its work session, options for making it easier to benefit from future subdivisions wanting to come into the area. One option would be extending its Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) out further to allow utility services to future developers and residents who already live right outside the current ETJ.
The developers of the subdivison near South Garner High School, Richard Stockett of Stockett Homes, Robert Abee of Oxford Investment Group, Ward Russell of Legacy Homes and Jim Thompson of Future Homes made a proposal to the county for the subdivision in December. It was not required for them to notify the town because it lies outside the town’s current ETJ.
There is about 3,000 acres of undeveloped land south of Timber Drive and east of Highway 50 near White Oak and South Garner High.
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South Garner High will be annexed in the town limits and will have City of Raleigh water and sewer. But the land around it is in the county. The town had previously discussed extending the ETJ out to that area at its annual council retreat and expected to have more time to do so. But with at least one proposed subdivision in that area in progress, the town council agreed they all must work quicker for a solution.
“The things that we discussed at the planning retreat in February was to do a lot at what we’re looking at right now. It’s just advanced,” council member Buck Kennedy said. “Instead of doing it over the next 12 months, it’s now doing it over the next two weeks.”
Currently properties outside the town limits and in the county must build water wells and septic tanks. In order to receive utility services they must be annexed by the town.
Kennedy said getting the ETJ line extended could take some time, so while the council ultimately wants to do that, Kennedy proposed creating a new zoning classification that would allow development with municipal water but not sewer because it is not readily available. It would also offer residents right outside the ETJ the opportunity to come inside the town limits. Being inside the ETJ provides them land use protection because developers must obey the town’s regulations.
The new zoning classification wouldn’t be an annexation, Kennedy said, and people could make their own decisions on what they want to do with their property. He said it will be important to educate the community on their plans.
“We don’t believe we are imposing anything on them,” Kennedy said. “In reality we would be giving them a greater degree of protection that they have now. Because anything can locate out there in that area that the county allowed and they have zero protection. Theoretically they could have a hog farm right next to them. And maybe that’s an absurd example, but that’s what could happen.”
Council member Gra Singleton was concerned about having two sets of standards. He said he didn’t think developers would like the fact that one could build their development under one set of regulations and another one couldn’t.
“Because this is happening so fast, maybe we should pull back and make sure we get all the other property right and maybe this one just goes by the wayside,” Singleton said of trying to entice the developers of the proposed Glen Creek subdivision. “Because I’d rather get it right than rush and have someone come and take us to court.
“Is the risk of doing this one property worth a reward in that tax base versus getting the rest of it correct.”
Bill Anderson, the town’s attorney, said regardless of whether they are able to persuade the developers to be annexed in the town, the town needs to act quickly. He said bigger lots, like the proposed subdivision will have, are appealing to many homeowners even if they must have a septic tank.
“They are building a product, which I think is going to be very doable out there,” Anderson said. “I think this is going to be an attractive development alternative that is going to appeal to a lot of people, and if we don’t start working on this and get ahead of the curve on this, we’re going to have the possibility of having a whole lot of property out there that is developed with wells, and will never be in the town.
“I think we need to move really fast on this and have a comprehensive plan, and make something that will work, to catch the next guy if we don’t catch this one,” he added.
Anderson said the problem with having a development without sewage is the town would be doing something different. He recommended the town start saving money so they could run sewer lines to that area.
“It’s going to be a security for some of these properties where the septic tanks fail 40 years from now,” he said.