Property Taxes

Development to reshape Cramerton

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The new development called Villages at South Fork  along with any earlier plan simply called Lakewood Village will bring 1,409 “upscale” housing units to the Town of Cramerton along with a combined 170,000 square feet of commercial space over the next 5 to 7 years.

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Of course, this development impacts the whole area, and most importantly the school system and roads.

Hold on for this ride.

Pittenger property plans shown

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The Observer is reporting today that the plans for the 1,100 acres below South Point HS have been shared with city planners.

Almost 3,000 new homes are planned, along with a 36-acre “regional” park, and an additonal 30-acres for an elementary school site.

It is great to see their plans, but some of the land reserved for the park and the school site are basically very difficult and expensive terrain to develop.

It is both a good news and bad news type of story. The good news is that they plan a long term build out of the project — 15 to 20 years; The bad news is that the road plan is also a bit questionable. It is relying heavily on the use of South Point Road and an unfunded “spine” road closer to the South Fork River, connecting with Armstrong Ford Road(Main Street) near Timberlake and connecting to the Garden Parkway.

We hope that this particular road is built BEFORE the proposed houses and towncenters are approved. If you think South Point Road is busy now, wait for this development to take off.

Unfortunately — well maybe fortunately — the state builds roads, Senator Pittenger has a very cozy relationship with the development firms around the state. We would not be too surprised if this “spine road” gets fastracked. As former city councilmember Irl Dixon once stated, the TIP ( transportation Improvement Program) had already designated that a road needed to be built and overlayed a road path. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan by the City of Belmont accepted this overlay, so all things considered, the road could be a go…

Hopefully, the funding will be forthcoming from the state legislature. We know that Representative Wil Neumann of Belmont is supportive, if not for re-election purposes at the very least.  

wil-neumann.jpg (Neumann)    pittenger.jpg (Pittenger)

Other good news on this project is the developer. Haden Stanziale is a recognized leader in large tract development. The project will certainly be first class. The bad news about this developer is that it contributes to the notion of economic cleansing concerns that many in-town and long-time residents have expressed.

When the property taxes on revaluation of property goes sky high two things happen. Pleople sell their property, or they can’t afford the tax bill. In this “bubble-burst” period of housing slowdown, both the resale of existing homes and new homes may help keep the tax values from rising too quickly.

We have a county commission that is very averse to raising pennies on property, but willing to hit the sales tax side for “good causes”  — this is a whole ‘nuther story completely so we won’t talk about it right now.

Gaston Co. to consider sales tax increase for schools

The Gaston County commissioners are planning to discuss a request by the County Schools to add a 1/4 cent sales tax to help build and maintain the school system.

This will be an interesting discussion because the residents just approved a $175 million bond referendum last November, and the schools have a multi-million dollar shortfall from the previous bond funds.

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The “no-tax-but-will-fund-silly-projects” county board of commissioners will be televised tonight for your entertainment. Of course, it will be on the non-consent portion of the agenda after the consent agenda approves over $1.7 million of money including additional “donations” to DSS.

Hotline to help North Carolinians facing foreclosure

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HOPE hotline will connect callers with local non-profits to help people keep their homes

Raleigh –  Help for North Carolinians who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure is now just a telephone call away, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the Office of the Commissioner of Banks announced today.

“It’s tragic when families lose their homes, especially when it could be prevented,” Cooper said.  “One toll-free call could give them the advice they need to stop foreclosure.”

North Carolinians can call the HOPE Hotline toll-free at 888-995-HOPE 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive free counseling on options to avoid foreclosure.  The hotline will connect callers with non-profit housing and credit counselors in their local community who can advise them about options such as modifying their loan, selling or refinancing their home or setting up a repayment plan with their lender.

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“Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage need to know there are resources available to help them avoid foreclosure.  Call the NC HOPE Hotline and you may be able to save your home,” said Deputy Commissioner of Banks Mark Pearce.

While North Carolina has not experienced the wave of foreclosures seen in many other states due to our strong laws against unfair loans, foreclosures are on the rise in the state.  Foreclosure starts were up 9.4 percent in North Carolina in 2007 and are expected to increase by 10 to 20 percent in 2008, according to the Commissioner of Banks’ office.

According to research by Freddie Mac, more than half of all homeowners who experience foreclosure never contact their mortgage company to try to avoid unnecessary foreclosure.  Mortgage servicers and lenders have a strong incentive to help homeowners avoid foreclosure because they stand to lose $40,000 to $50,000 in net value when a typical home loan is foreclosed.  Finding a solution to foreclosure can be in the best interest of both the homeowner and the lender.

Cooper and the Commissioner of Banks have teamed up to provide $300,000 in seed money to reimburse counselors who are able to help prevent unnecessary foreclosures for North Carolinians who call the hotline, with more reimbursement going to counselors who are able to help homeowners keep their homes.  Additional funding from Congress and the General Assembly could expand access to local counselors through the hotline.

Local non-profits will also be able to connect hotline callers with other resources as needed, such as referrals for legal help when there is evidence that the homeowner may have been the victim of predatory or abusive lending practices.   The Attorney General’s Office will be notified when there is a pattern of lending abuses and can take action to enforce North Carolina’s strong laws against predatory lending. 

Counselors can also help connect homeowners who qualify with Federal Housing Administration secure loans.  In some cases, non-profits may be able to purchase a home before it is foreclosed upon and then lease it back to the homeowner, applying their lease payments to the purchase of the home.

The national Hope Hotline is a joint project between NeighborWorks America, a non-profit organization chartered by Congress, and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Minnesota.  The Commissioner of Banks and Attorney General Cooper are working together to select and support more than 20 high-quality counseling agencies across the state to accept referrals from the national Hope Hotline.  These local counselors will be able to provide assistance not currently available through the national hotline.

“Foreclosures are hurting families across our state and damaging our neighborhoods and communities,” said Cooper.  “It’s in all of our interest to help homeowners find a way out of foreclosure when possible.”

More information about the hotline and the organizations involved is available at www.ncforeclosurehelp.org.

Consultant not sold on Gastonia’s plans for downtown convention center, hotel

Aren’t we surprised?

Gastonia’s super-secret-deal $16,000 contract consultant backs off his own report. Could it be that Atlantic Hospitality Advisors are worried about the possible business connection back to “Big Plan” Palenick?

We have to give a lot of credit to councilman Kirlin for wanting to explore this issue in more detail.

david-kirlin.jpg (Gastonia City Councilman, Dave Kirlin)

Tonight’s Gastonia City Council meeting will be televised (Gaston County Access Channel 16 on the TW cable). We hope Mr. Palenick wears some makeup.

The consultant’s fees for this market study don’t appear to be too well-earned. Most of the data looks to be lifted from several earlier studies of the Gaston County area and accessible data from both the Economic Development Commission and the Census Bureau. So, taxpayers footed the bill to tell the Gastonia City Council what they already knew?

You can read some of the fiction yourselves right here:

gastonia-market-analysis.pdf  

The report is a 2mb file and might take a bit to download. Pretty hefty you must admit for $16,000.

Mr. Palenick’s “revised” plan that will be discussed at tonight’s meeting:

strategic-development-plan-revised-02-11-2008.pdf

Downtown stakeholders get the skinny on Gastonia’s big plan

At this morning’s First Friday Focus, a Gaston Regional Chamber, regular event, “Big Plan” Palenick, Gastonia’s city manager/chief litigator, presented HIS big plan for Gastonia.

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Speaking before a good sized crowd of chamber members and interested others, “BP” noted that many downtown business owners supported the plan “enthusiastically”.

We already know that the city council has swallowed the kool-aid in its desperate attempt to revive a city that lost its relevance when I-85 was completed, and then again when Wal-Mart took over at both ends of town.

It now appears that the libertarian mouthpiece, the Gaston Gazette, is certainly looking more favorably on these plans as well. Their tone and style of writing is disappointing considering their distain for the TIF laws as passed in 2004.

Good luck Gastonia.

Really, we mean it…

  

Feds have an interest in locating immigrant detention facility here

Well, ok, so it is official now. The Sheriff of Gaston County likes the idea.

Let’s see:

Paysour Mountain ? Lots of land available – Dallas and Cherryville have big time support at the Federal and State levels ( ie, Patrick McHenry, US-NC 10th; state senator David Hoyle), definitely non-partisan.  Cherryville is such an open and welcoming community to begin with…

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The Equestrian Center property? Isn’t it under contract already?

Across the street from the proposed relocation of the Salvation Army Shelter and Old Boys Club?  palenick-project-downtown-gastonia.pdf

Yeah, that would rejuvenate Highland and the North side of Gastonia and certainly help out the Big League Dreams for Sims Park. It would really help the congestion at the 321/85 interchange.

Next to or near the Dole Plant? Bessemer City deserves job growth … hey, anything is better than nothing – there are a lot of vacant textile plants that could be torn down and the land reused.

On the old Firestone property site or In the old Firestone? Hmm, we just wonder…

Yeah, and it will be built with FEDERAL dollars, not local dollars !

And, it will benefit the community by CREATING more jobs – is that why the public safety services in the Gaston area have a hard time filling the current positions?

On JOB CREATION, it will demand more Sheriff’s deputies, more County Police, more Gastonia PD vehicles, and more Assistant DA’s. Is that what they mean by MORE JOB CREATION?

The above positions ARE locally funded – and given the Homeland Security disarray, no federal funds would be “found” to support the “support services” of such a facility.

So, a FEW local contractors will benefit during construction. Local government will have to be EXPANDED, and property owners who have investments (RE: Rental Units Available) will also benefit. Did we list all the special interests yet? 

The Gaston Chamber must be licking their lips. The Feds would HAVE to watch Gaston County NOW – 1,500 beds is larger than the LA facility (which is closer to the border than Gastonia).

Families who have a federal detainee (yes, that is what they are called – no different than a detainee at Gitmo) would move to Gaston to be near their loved ones. We are sure the local hospital will be thrilled about the needed extra services — oh, yeah, that is county funding too. Not to mention the need for more desks in the schools.

Yes, there is a deep and lasting impact…