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County authorizes study of growth control tool

In a continuing effort to manage growth and reduce strain on county infrastructure and facilities, commissioners Monday night agreed to finance the study of a tool that could do just that.
An Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance ties development approvals to the availability and adequacy of public facilities. It’s designed so new developments are timed right so they happen when facilities are adequate.
APFOs are centered around counties’ Capital Improvement Plans, which set specific dates for improvements to be made to infrastructure and facilities.
If a developer wants to create a subdivision, the effect on county services like schools, law enforcement or water and sewer would be determined, said Kelly Atkins, director of Building and Land Development. If those services are not at an adequate level, the developer could wait until they were — dictated by the CIP — or pay costs to offset the effect.
“If he wants to speed up the process of his development being approved, then he can contribute the funds to do so,” Atkins said. “If he chooses to wait, he can do so and wait for the CIP to say (facilities are adequate).”
The county will pay consultants $1,800 to educate the Board of Commissioners, Planning Board, School Board and the public on what goes into an APFO and how feasible it is to enact one in Lincoln County, Atkins said. The cost includes a day-long workshop and travel expenses for the consultants.
Officials want to involve homebuilders and Realtors, since they’ll be affected if an APFO is adopted.
An APFO adopted by Cabarrus County has been successful, Atkins said.
Developers have paid the county about $6.5 million to offset effects during the three years the ordinance has been in effect, he said.
“Will that build a school? No. Will it put a dent in the price tag? Yes,” Atkins said.
Commissioner Carrol Mitchem said the county needs to try to maintain or slow down growth.
“Lincoln County has got to put a slow-down on something,” Mitchem said. “This looks like a tool we can use.”
Commissioner Tom Anderson also supported the study.
“We simply do not have any tools to work with. This is a tool,” Anderson said.
The workshop should take place sometime in late June, Atkins said. If the county chooses to go ahead with the APFO, it could take six months to one year to officials put it in place.
In other business, the Board of Commissioners appointed Louis McConnell to fill the vacant seat on the county Planning Board.
McConnell will fill the position left open by the resignation of Dan Tritt last month.by Alice Smith

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