The Town Council has agreed to cut a landowner a break on road improvements in a deal that will bring a Sheetz to the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Chapel Hill Road.
In a first, the Morrisville Town Council voted 4-3 to allow Sai Sudhini of RVRV LLC two years to pay off $226,725 for road improvements at the intersection.
Usually, the town asks developers and landowners to pay for road improvements up front or build the roads and sidewalks themselves. In this case, the town is accepting the landowner’s promissory note.
If all goes well, the town will get a Sheetz and $226,725 in road improvements. If Sudhini decides not to build phase 2 and doesn’t complete the payment, taxpayers will be left with the bill. The town could sue Sudhini and foreclose on the property for payment.
The Sheetz would be part of Phase 1 and would be allowed to open regardless of the completion of Phase 2.
Staff recommended against allowing the note for several reasons. It would place Morrisville in the insecure position of not having all the funding in place before construction began. It would set a precedent where the council would have to consider similar requests, and if Sudhini fails to meet the terms of the note, the cost of the improvements would be passed on to taxpayers, according to town documents.
The majority of the Morrisville Town Council didn’t see the project as a gamble. Council members Steve Rao, Michael Schlink, Mark Stohlman and Margaret Broadwell voted to allow the note on May 22.
Sudhini will have to pay a $10,000 down payment, and a monthly installment of $1,000. The note comes due in two years, according to town documents.
“I don’t see this situation as a huge risk. I think it will work itself out,” Broadwell said. “We get increased tax dollars in the coffers. The benefit far outweighs what I perceive the risk to be. I’m in favor of town being flexible.”
Rao has been a proponent of economic development .
“I think the reward, having someone else pay for these road improvement far outweighs risk,” Rao said. “We must be innovative in our approach.”
Stohlman said the alternative could be worse for taxpayers.
If the town doesn’t approve the project the “McCrimmon loop would be a loop to nowhere” Stohlman said.
If the land sits empty, the town will eventually have to pay for the improvements anyway, he said.
Not all council members supported the proposal. Mayor Jackie Holcombe said the note put the town in the position of being a bank. And she questioned why Morrisville would make an exception for a gas station.
“Gas station and convenience stores are not the type of businesses we go after,” she said. “It’s not in our incentive policy.”
She said it’s also an issue of fairness. The town council has asked other developers to go above and beyond requirements in conditional rezoning requests.
“We’ve established we want development to pay for itself,” Holcombe said.