Town won't give permit extensions

The Troutman Board of Aldermen has opted out of a state law that would have extended town-issued development permits for an extra year.

In a resolution the board adopted at its December meeting, town officials said extending the permits would be an administrative burden for the town's small staff.

According to town documents, the decision not to extend permits could affect several major projects, including Falls Cove Phase 2, Brookeside Homes, Autumn Pointe Homes and Murdock Farms.

The decision refers to a law passed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2009 and updated last spring. Recognizing the serious effect the recession was having on housing and land development statewide, the legislature approved a three-year permit extension for permits issued through this Friday. The law said deadlines for developers to take action on their permits were suspended during those three years, and it applied to all municipalities.

Last spring, with the economy still reeling, the permit law was extended another year. Local governments, however, were given the opportunity to opt out of the fourth year. That is what Troutman has decided to do.

So far, Blowing Rock, Boone, Snow Hill, Waxhaw and Marvin also have opted out of the extension.

At least one developer in Troutman is trying to get his project "recorded," or approved, before Friday.

"Bill Whitely of Brookeside has been working very hard the past couple of months to get a portion of Phase 1 recorded by Dec.31," Town Planner Erika Martin said. Brookeside is a proposed 58-acre, 65-lot subdivision off Massey Street.

"If he is able to do this, he will have an additional two years to record the rest of Phase1."

The remaining permits, however, essentially will time out on Saturday, and developers with only preliminary approvals will have to restart at the beginning of the process.

Besides the administrative burden, the board cited these issues for opting out of the extension:

Some partially completed projects have contributed nuisance-like conditions that have had a blighting influence on nearby properties.

Postponement of certain projects has made it harder for the town to coordinate and carry out its capital improvement program concurrently with new development.

Permit expiration provisions serve a useful public purpose in encouraging permit holders to complete projects. They winnow out projects that are not well-conceived, and they bring closure to the permitting process.

The vote on the resolution was 4-0 (Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Spath was absent).