Lake Norman & Mooresville

Mooresville developing housing policy

Aiming to meet current and future housing needs, Mooresville is developing a comprehensive plan that would direct residential development in coming years.

The long-term plan will focus on identifying which types of housing the town would need to accommodate not only its current population, but also anticipated growth and demographic change. Among the segments of the population here that have grown over the years are seniors, for whom there is a dearth of housing.

“It gives us a chance to step back,” Kim Sellers, a spokeswoman for the town, said of the plan.

Proposed by the Centralina Council of Governments regional planning organization the plan is in its early stages and will take several months to develop, she said.

Putting it together are three committees the town created that will review market research, including housing trends, as well as seek public input from residents and other stakeholders. The first public meeting on the plan is scheduled for June 30 at the Charles Mack Citizen Center, on North Main Street.

Mooresville may be the first local government in the region to take such a comprehensive approach.

Beyond identifying current housing needs, the plan will focus on ways the town could have greater control over residential development, including where it takes place. To do so, it would encourage public-private partnerships, providing developers with certain criteria on which they would base their plans, and could lead the town to revise its ordinances and do away with regulatory obstacles, Sellers said.

“We want it at the right time, we want it at the right place,” she said of future residential development.

The plan will cost the town $110,000, for which it is seeking private donations. It has already received some funding, including $5,000 from two Realtors’ associations, Sellers noted.

It was among a number of recommendations under a broader strategic initiative encompassing 14 counties in the region that is meant to lay the framework for growth in coming years.

Assembled by a consortium of local governments and private organizations over the past three years, the initiative, CONNECT Our Future, focuses on ways to strengthen the economy, control local government spending and improve quality of life. It involved surveys and more than a dozen meetings.

A diverse housing stock is important for areas experiencing changing demographics because it creates “more options for people to live in communities close to work or school” as well as “for housing at all stages of life,” the initiative’s website states.

“Each community needs to look at what housing they want to serve their community,” said Jim Prosser, executive director of the CCOG, which oversaw the initiative.

“If you don’t have housing for people who are going to work here, you simply aren’t going to be able to attract and retain the workforce you need,” Prosser said. Referring to preparing for growth, he added: “If you don’t stay ahead of the growth curve … you won’t be able to grow anymore.”

The greater Charlotte region is considered one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country.

In the nine counties the CCOG covers, the fastest-growing population is people 65 and older, Prosser said. He noted that while many are originally from the region, some are moving here to live closer to their grandchildren.

In Mooresville, the lack of housing for that segment of the population is considerable. Last year, a study by a market research firm concluded that some 500 affordable housing units are needed for seniors here.

“We’ve known for a while,” Town Commissioner David Coble said of the housing crunch.

To help ease that demand, the town announced plans late last year to donate land in the historic Cascade community for a residential development that would comprise about 65 units for ages 55 and older. The developers behind the plan, Wesley Community Development Corp. and Prosperity Unlimited Inc., have applied for low-income housing tax credits from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at jacobflannick@gmail.com.

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