At the East Lincoln Betterment Association meeting Thursday night, the some 20 people in attendance heard about the proposed Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that could change the way property is developed in Lincoln County.
Kelly Atkins, director of Building and Land Development for the county, said commissioners are pressured to control development in the county.
â€œIf this passes the Board of Commissioners, it will take some of the burden off the taxpayer,â€ he said.
According to figures provided by Atkins, right now the population in Lincoln County is around 70,000. That number is expected to jump to 120,000 by 2040.
Thereâ€™s also a projected school enrollment of 16,000 students in Lincoln County Schools by 2040.
Figures provided by the school system indicate by 2008 alone, the systemâ€™s school facility needs would exceed $64 million.
â€œThe APFO wonâ€™t take all of the burden off the taxpayer,â€ said Atkins. â€œHowever, because schools cost too much.â€
â€œThere are several alternative growth strategies available to the county, and one of them is the APFO,â€ said Atkins.
Under the APFO, if a proposed subdivision doesnâ€™t exceed the school capacity, the developer may proceed without and modification to his or her plans.
â€œIf the school capacity increases, however, to between 100 and 115 percent, the developer has four options,â€ said Atkins.
They include waiting until the school capacity is below 100 percent, reducing the proposed number of lots in the development, moving the development to an area of the county where thereâ€™s school capacity or expediting their plans by paying the pre-determined to offset the impact.
â€œIf school capacity goes above 115 percent, the developerâ€™s putting his development on hold until capacity falls below that number,â€ said Atkins, who added then the developer may proceed with one of the aforementioned options.
â€œThis only applies to new subdivisions, not ones that are currently under construction,â€ he said.
An example of this is the current development under construction on Webbs Chapel Road off N.C. 16.
That developer, Fisher Properties of Salisbury, is also proposing a development off N.C. 16 and Campground Road.
â€œThe ordinance would apply to developments that begin construction after January 2006,â€ said Atkins.
During November, the APFO is expected to be presented to the countyâ€™s Growth Management Committee. The drafted plan then goes to Lincoln County commissioners.
Commissioners are expected to consider the APFO between this December and January 2006.
According to ELBA President Peter Browne, the APFO is coming a little too late.
â€œItâ€™s like locking the barn door after the horse is stolen because most of the rapid development will have occurred,â€ he said. â€œWe already see the strain on the school system. It should have been passed a long time ago.â€
However, Browne points out the APFO is good for Lincoln County, especially with development mainly occurring in eastern Lincoln County.
â€œItâ€™s going to ensure development wonâ€™t outpace support already in place,â€ he said, â€œand not only does that include schools, it includes utilities as well.â€
According to county Zoning Administrator Randy Hawkins, once the ordinance is adopted, all of Lincoln County would be covered under the APFO except for Lincolnton.
â€œThis may steer more development towards Lincolnton and their extra-territorial jurisdictions,â€ he said.
Calls seeking comment from Steve Gurley, planning director with the City of Lincolnton, werenâ€™t returned.
by Jon Mayhew