Cary may change how it works with developers on road improvements

aspecht@newsobserver.comMay 22, 2014 

  • Have your say

    Cary is collecting feedback on its transportation system ordinance until June 1.

    The town will host a public workshop on the new rules from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Herb Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave.

    The town is also urging residents to read about the proposed rules changes and take a survey about them at CaryHaveYourSay.com.

— The town is asking the public for help in changing the way it builds and improves roads and sidewalks throughout Cary.

Developers and residents help build thoroughfares directly as they improve their properties and indirectly as they pay transportation development fees.

Cary is one of only four North Carolina municipalities – along with Raleigh, Durham and Apex – that levies a transportation development fee.

The fee is determined by several complex factors. But Cary planners are now considering new development rules that they say will streamline the process.

The town plans to host a public workshop from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Herb Young Community Center to talk about its proposed transportation system ordinance.

The rule changes would mostly affect developers attempting to build in Cary.

Perhaps the biggest change is the proposal to put a monetary cap on how much a developer can spend when making road and sidewalk improvements as part of his project.

Cary wants to collect feedback before writing a specific cap structure that could consider the size of each project. But town staff believe the idea will be popular among developers since there’s currently no cap on how much they can spend.

The town also wants to stop entering into developer agreement contracts, quit allowing developers to pay a fee instead of building certain transportation improvements and halt its practice of giving developers cash reimbursements for building bigger roads than required.

Cary and Raleigh are the only municipalities in the state that sometimes give cash reimbursements.

Cary staff, in a report, said the current reimbursement system is “complicated to administer for both staff and the development community.”

The monetary cap would do away with the need for cash reimbursements, according to Kristen Dwiggins, an engineering supervisor for the town.

Support for the changes in the development community is unclear, said Suzanne Harris, vice president of governmental affairs for the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

Harris said she’d like to gather more information from Cary before taking a stance on the proposed rule changes.

The monetary cap “sounds like a good thing,” she said, “but I’m weary over what exactly the formula is for figuring the cap out.”

Cary is asking for feedback through an online survey, and Harris said she has sent a link to the survey to all of her association’s members.

“We’re asking our membership to participate in the survey,” she said. “One of the best things that can happen is for Cary to get as much information from residents and builders as possible.”

The town isn’t sure when the proposed changes will go before the Town Council for a vote. New rules will likely be introduced piece by piece, and it could take up to two years for each of the changes to be fully implemented.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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