Langtree plan debated

The Mooresville Board of Commissioners plans to vote in March on whether to lend the developers of the planned $1 billion Langtree at the Lake community about $7 million for utilities and roads.

The money would pay for public water and sewer lines and roads for the mixed-use community's first 12 acres, south of Langtree Road and west of Interstate 77 at Lake Norman. The money would be paid back over 10 years through an installment financing agreement.

David Parker and Rick Howard, two of Langtree's partners, said Langtree will give ownership of the roads and other work back to the town.

Earlier this month, commissioner Rhett Dusenbury questioned a decision by fellow commissioners to have the town apply to the N.C. Local Government Commission for permission to loan the money. "The role of government is to protect rights, not be a bank for developers," Dusenbury said.

At a public hearing on the financing plan last week, five residents spoke against lending the developers money, and none spoke in favor of it.

"We are not a bank," resident Larry Gregory said.

Commissioners should instead use the money to cut taxes, he said.

"Why don't you put the money in the stock market, or Las Vegas?" resident George Mullins asked.

Resident Roy Harris put his hand to his neck to show how much debt the town was already in due to its purchase of the former Adelphia cable TV system. "Do not encumber us with more debt," he said.

Howard and Parker spoke of potential benefits.

"This is about creating jobs, opportunities for this community, sales tax revenues for this community," Howard said. Land clearing began in 2011, but no buildings have gone up.

Howard told the Observer after the hearing that banks aren't lending for "horizontal" work as roads and utilities, but they are for buildings. Langtree, he said, has a $39 million loan commitment on a planned $55 million apartment complex from M&T Bank.

Howard and his son, Brad, have planned the commercial, residential and retail development for six years. The project will include five miles of waterfront open to the public and about two miles of I-77 frontage. John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts plans to build a 300-room Embassy Suites hotel and a 75,000-square-foot convention center in Langtree at the Lake in another phase.

Commissioners said they intend to vote on the loan at their second meeting of the month, 6 p.m. March 19 at Town Hall, 413 N. Main St.

Marusak: 704-987-3670.