By Michael Praats | October 10, 2020 at 3:46 PM EDT – Updated October 10 at 3:48 PM
CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – A development company in Carolina Beach is claiming poor communication from the town has cost their project more than $40,000 and wants and the town (and taxpayers) to make up for their losses.
The project in question is for a business center that will be located at Lake Park Boulevard and Bertram Drive. However, the development is not a public-private partnership and in general, cities and towns do not pay for private development, even if they add to the tax base. The developers, RGL Development Inc., was first issued a conditional use permit in 2017 to construct the business center, however, the project has faced some delays and changes.
As the name implies, a conditional use permit sets some conditions on the development and often includes additional requirements, in 2017 Town Council approved the CUP that did just that.
“During this quasijudicial hearing it was discussed that public and private water, sewer, stormwater, and road improvements would be required,” according to town council’s agenda.
These types of improvements are typical of what is asked of developers when conditional use permits are requested and developers are typically required to pay for the costs associated with extending public utilities to new residential and commercial projects.
“The Town could not sustain continued partnerships to expand our infrastructure for new development without significant increases in fees. However, the applicant believes their situation is unique,” according to town staff.
In general town staff does not have the authority to agree to pay for private development, even when it means expanding public infrastructure. However, town staff did make several concessions and agreed to pay portions of the project including:
- The contractor was going to cut and patch the Bertram to accommodate water and sewer lines for their property. Based on concerns with the final product (patched road) we agreed to pay half of the costs for the final overlay. This equates to $7,809.96.
- The turning radius of Bertram and LPB was discussed during the quasi-judicial hearing and Town Staff did agree to pay for extending Bertram to LPB 314 square yards at a cost of $4,317.59.
- Staff provided the required fire hydrant for the project because it was difficult to find the specific type used by the Town. This was at a cost of $1,700.
Despite these payments, RGL believes the town should pay for more of the infrastructure costs due to what they claim were poor communications from town staff.
“RGL Development LLC (RGL) have faced unanticipated infrastructure costs associated with water, sewer, and streets. RGL believes these circumstances are a result of poor communications by the Town staff, therefore there should be additional costs paid by the Town for the project,” according to a request from RGL to the town.
Ultimately, the developer is requesting more than $40,000 from the town which includes change orders and interest based off delays in the project.
“We collectively feel the town is financially liable for these additional expenses and delays based on the noncommunication and miscommunication throughout the course of the project which started in April of 2019. The Town routinely did not return phone calls and was incredibly slow in returning emails,” according to the letter to the town from RGL.
A summary of the requests RGL is making as outlined by town staff can be seen below.
- Waterline: Staff did request that the water lines be looped for water quality and fire protection. This is standard practice for a water system. This was not discussed on April 22, 2019. This meeting did not include utility staff, but did include planning. At that time the project was about to expire and the focus of the discussion was how to get the project extended. Staff worked with RGL to obtain the extension of their permit which was granted on July 9, 2019. During permit review utility staff did tell the applicant that the water line needed to be looped.
- The design fee for this was listed at $360.
- RGL is requesting costs incurred for lost time due to having to loop the system at a cost of $10,500.
- Sidewalks: The project must be in compliance with ADA including sidewalks. The slopes of the driveway cuts were initially too steep to meet Fire code and ADA code. The building inspector was in constant communications with RGL.
- RGL is requesting $2,250 due to delays. The plans did not illustrate the slope that would be put in. Due to lack of detail staff informed RGL that it would need to meet ADA requirements.
- RGL is requesting $15,047.
- Water Line Connection: The contractor was required to field verify as identified on their plan. The Town did have an old as-built from Portside that staff provided, but we also asked that they verify locations/sizes as their engineer also noted on the plans.
- RGL is requesting $8,282.
- Poor Communication: RGL is requesting $7,000 due to delays caused by Town Staff. Staff has reviewed correspondence. All phone calls and emails were returned as soon as staff could obtain information and typically same day.
- Total request from RGL = $43,439.
“In closing, we would like the Council to respectfully remember RGL Development, Inc., Terry Greer and Beau Long, are not Publix or Food Lion with deep pockets for development. Nor are they outsiders of the community, these are two long-term residents of the Town of Carolina Beach investing in and providing services for the Town of Carolina Beach and their residents. There are 24 units within the CB Business Park. All these units are going to require upfit permits and all of these units are going to contribute to the property taxes for the Town of Carolina Beach. We would like the Town to consider the reimbursement of $43,439 from the economic development fund or capital improvement fund. RGL through executing this project has invested well over $250k into the Town’s water and sewer infrastructure, permit fees, and will be contributing as well with future permit fees and property taxes,” the request from the developer’s reads.
The Town of Carolina Beach’s staff is not recommending the Town Council approve the request for funding by RGL, Town Council will meet on Tuesday and will have to decide on the request at that time.
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