Moore County’s mini-summit on Tuesday to talk about development couldn’t have had better timing. The plan calls for developers, homeowners, planners, county officials, property owners and Realtors to offer their viewpoints on the real estate industry’s state of affairs these days.

The two hours allotted — 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Senior Enrichment Center off U.S. 15-501 — almost certainly will not be enough for the various sides to cover the rather comprehensive agenda and express their opinions.

“This meeting is open to anybody who has an interest in building, development or real estate in Moore County,” County Manager Wayne Vest said.

Buckle up. Virtually everything entailed with real estate is super charged these days.

Pressures Up and Down the Chain

Historically low levels of existing homes for sale have driven buyers to pay well over asking prices for those houses that do come on the market.

That lack of inventory has also sparked significantly more new home construction across the county, though not at a pace that could possibly satisfy demand. But continuing supply chain issues, coupled with inflation in material and labor costs — not to mention higher land costs — are driving prices higher. New “affordable” housing is virtually nonexistent.

This flurry of new construction is causing pressure and bottlenecks up and down the chain, especially when it comes to inspections the county must perform on work. A shortage of inspectors has left at least one department, the county’s Environmental Health Division, struggling to keep up with the number of permit requests for new septic systems and other inspections.

Tuesday’s summit will look at permitting issues and ways to reduce wait times. But attendees will also get a look at the pressures on water and sewer service. The rule of thumb is that wherever water and sewer lines go, residential and commercial development are not far behind.

For instance, the county has been trying for months to expand sewer service in Vass, but that work has been delayed because contractors are so busy, the county can’t get any reasonable bids at acceptable prices.

Historically, the lack of at least either county water or sewer has kept growth directed more toward the urbanized municipalities. But expansion of infrastructure — including increased broad- band internet access — is pushing developers farther out into the county.

Changing Nature of ‘Rural’

County commissioners are increasingly seeing evidence of development moving farther out. On Tuesday, they heard a request by Tri-South Builders for a 53-lot subdivision on a 73.7-acre par- cel off Union Church Road in Carthage. Current zoning would allow for 80 homes, so the builder is proposing a less-dense project.

That’s of little comfort to rural residents, a few dozen of whom turned out Tuesday night to oppose this development.

“We want to protect what makes this county special by developing family farms in Moore County,” Cameron resident Nick Lasala said. Lasala is part of Moore Family Farms, a recently formed grass- roots group that created a petition opposing the subdivision. It has more than 600 signatures.

“And these are concerned citizens who want to keep Moore County rural agriculture in the unincorporated areas and develop family farms,” Lasala said. “(We want to) develop subdivisions in the town limits, in the corporated areas and ETJs — that’s where we think they belong.”

Commissioners put off discussion and a decision until at least next month, but the reality is that more of these types of projects are coming as the county continues to grow, and demand for housing pushes developers farther out from urban cores.

This, then, is the climate Moore County finds itself in and the pressures it is experiencing. Tuesday’s roundtable discussion is a good first step that at least brings together many of the stakeholders. What we all need to listen for, though, is where we go next.

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(5) comments

Robert Hansen

It may be time for community leaders to form a Mission Statement for what the County will look like in 20-30 years. Who will it serve? How much development is appropriate?

Are massive amounts of multi-family development desirable for this region? Who is going to fund and build the infrastructure necessary to support further development?

Will regional authorities seek out new industries to provide jobs for new residents? Or will the region become housing for commuters? Will we continue to add density to the core...or will we best be served by preserving the core and sending new development to the surrounding open lands? History shows the so many fine small communities face decline by big density development.

This is the time to define Moore County. Not in 10 years when it will be too late.

Kent Misegades

“Affordable housing” is completely subjective. It all depends on income and needs and locations. Drive a few miles from Pinehurst to places like Candor or Ellerbe and there are plenty of modest fixer-upper houses. Or buy a few acres of land in the country and put a pre-fab SIPS house on it and finish it yourself. Or build an A-frame and add on as budgets allow. Planners need to also expect a market collapse given 40-year high inflation and governments unwilling to cut spending and paying down our debt.

Chris Smithson

Kent you have no clue

richard larson

Location, location, location. And, it's addressing the volumes of housing units that are necessary. It is not the odd one house here or there out in the western part of the County or further West. And to a very large extent, it's anywhere drives or commuting time exceeds one hour each way. Nope, that's not practical making that location much less attractive. The bigger concern is the attempt to shove everyone back into a 'one size fits all' living scenario. The recent grass roots farm 'movement' seems entirely misguided. You never hear a headline saying all the farm land is gone. No more left, all gone. To the contrary, there's a bunch of it sitting around. It's simply not getting worked. I'd bet it's not financially feasible, so there it sits. Not everyone wants to live on an 'in town' 10,000 sq. ft. lot either. Nor can just anyone afford to buy 10 acres around here. Subdivisions, such as the one under heavy review right now, provide options that don't otherwise exist. Those locations with attractive proximity to Fort Bragg and yes, Raleigh need to be once and for all understood. A practical location and housing options are not an unrealistic request.

Barbara Misiaszek

And that farm land that's not being worked is also exempt from property tax under current State law. Actually, taxes on that land is "deferred", if it comes out of a farm zoning it will be again taxed. Approximately 1/2 of the land in Moore County falls into this "deferred tax" category.

John Misiaszek

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