Apex sees a housing boom

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 9, 2014 

Construction crews work at the Salem Village subdivision. Residential growth has reached a record high in Apex, with 811 new units expected in 2014, according to town staff.

SYDNEY WOLFORD — swolford@newsobserver.com

  • By the numbers

    Residential units approved, estimated population increase

    2009: 492 units, 1,348 people

    2010: 36 units, 101 people

    2011: 813 units, 2,300 people

    2012: 471 units, 1,332 people

    2013: 742 units, 2,100 people

    2014: (expected) 811 units, 2,295 people

    Source: town of Apex

— The town is experiencing such a housing boom that it needs more staff to keep up with rezoning requests, government hearings and site-plan reviews.

To help deal with a work level the town hasn’t seen since before the recession, Apex is hiring two additional people for its planning department.

“These positions would take workload off senior planners and do more of the administrative-type tasks,” said Town Councilman Gene Schulze, chairman of the personnel committee. “The work is coming in faster than we can keep up with it. Clearly there is a need.”

Apex saw 36 rezoning requests in 2013. That was a 277 percent increase over the previous year, when there were 13 requests.

Last year brought the highest number of rezoning petitions in the past decade, according to town figures.

Most of the petitions were for residential subdivisions. The town received 19 such requests last year, compared to seven in 2012.

That figure exceeds pre-recession levels, according to town data.

The growth rate in Apex is at 4.6 percent, which is the highest in the past decade. In 2003, the town’s growth rate was 4.5 percent, according to a town staff report.

Apex plans to spend about $40,000 to hire a full-time planner and planning technician. The money will come from the additional revenue from residential permits, according to a budget ordinance approved by the Town Council on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the exponential growth is expected to continue.

Apex is set to add about 811 residential units and about 2,300 new people this year. That’s a big jump from 2009, when the town added about 490 residential units.

“You’re seeing it with our longer (Town Council) agendas,” said Mayor Keith Weatherly. “The residential development is busting loose. It’s been dormant for a while, but it’s picked back up. Economists said the Triangle, this whole region, would be the last to go into the recession and among the first to come out.”

Weatherly also credits N.C. 540 with helping to lure more residential development.

“We knew there was going to be prime development opportunities,” he said. “We want good quality development, not growth for growth’s sake.”

More rooftops are also a boon for non-residential development. Spikes in residential growth have typically led to more commercial ventures.

Last year, the town had 43 requests for non-residential developments. That was more than Apex saw annually between 1994 and 2007.

“Retailers follow rooftops and do not expand into markets until there is a demand for their product or service,” according to a staff report presented to the Apex Town Council on Tuesday.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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