Plants obviously need water to grow. It turns out housing does, too.
During a public works committee meeting the town finalized a general plan to increase water and sewer allocation to allow for more rapid residential growth.
Increased capacity from the City of Raleigh, from which the town contracts water and sewer services, allows changes to planning policy that have been in the works for years. Garner planning director Brad Bass said a formal proposal could be recommended to council in about two months.
The changes would double to 600 the number of single-unit family homes that could be permitted in a year. The per-project, per-year maximum would also increase from 50 to 120.
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“That is a significant increase,” Bass said.
Bass said the town has not been reaching the maximum in units allowable by current policy. But expected future growth and the opportunity to build more may entice developers to do so. He said the hope is to create a more flexible set of rules, ones that better reflect what’s going on in the marketplace.
“I think it’s increasing the supply so the development community feels like it has adequate supply to construct their projects. Some in the past were discouraged by the limits,” Bass said. “We are having conversations with more and more residential developers. I think we are on the right track.”
The issue constituted one of the top priorities during the Town Council’s annual retreat in February. In addition, the topic featured prominently during a series of “Growth Strategies Task Force” meetings.
That series, held on occasion from September 2013 to July of 2014, brought together council members, town staff, and private concerns. Individuals consulted by the town included local developers, builders, architects, real estate agents and other development-related professionals.
Along with changes to water and sewer allocation policy, those meetings proposed relaxing construction restrictions, a re-worked building fee process, and improved promotion of the town as well as its assets such as its schools and other amenities.
The limits on new home construction had been placed at a time where Raleigh’s capacity had been more limited.
The town hopes to promote residential growth and investment that would increase the town’s size, draw commercial investment and expand its tax base.