New subdivision lots drop drastically in Polk

Published 6:45 pm Friday, December 4, 2009

It was just a few years ago that Polk County residents feared overgrowth, but the numbers over the last couple of years have seen significant drops in new subdivisions.

The county spent almost the entire year without giving a single final plat approval for any new subdivisions. Final&bsp; plat approval was given just last month for one major subdivision, The Farms at Mill Spring.

In 2007, Polk County approved 487 new lots. So far this year only 19 lots were approved, 15 of which are in The Farms at Mill Spring, which just received some final plat approvals on Nov. 12.&bsp; During a Polk County Planning Board meeting next week, another 10 lots are scheduled to be given final plat approval for the Farms at Mill Spring. In 2008, the county saw just 115 lot approvals compared to 487 in 2007. In 2006 the county approved 281 lots, compared to 361 in 2005. The trend this year is even lower than 2004, when the county approved 69 new lots.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The subdivision activity for 2009 from the Polk County Planning Board is on two pages of documents. The planning board this year has given preliminary plat approval to Carolina Hills at Meadowbrook, final plat approval for one minor subdivision, Oak Ridge, consisting of four total lots and preliminary and final plat approval for different phases of the Farms at Mill Spring. The Farms at Mill Spring was not required to seek county approval for its first two phases due to all the lots in those phases being 10 acres or larger.

The Town of Columbus has also been working for the past couple of years with Foster Creek Preserve, a proposed 750 lot subdivision. The town recently approved Foster Creeks master plan and it will sometime next year when final plat approval is given.

Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth says there have not been a lot of new developers contacting the planning office recently regarding new projects or major subdivisions, but there has been some interest in new developers taking over existing projects.

A new law was passed by the N.C. General Assembly earlier this year giving developers in the middle of their projects an extension due to the economy.

There were about 15 developers in Polk County who qualified for that extension, which stopped developers clock for two years on how long they have to seek final plat approval and begin construction.

The earliest the clock will begin running again for developers is Jan. 1, 2011.

According to the N.C. School of Government, the law was put into place over concern about the impacts of the recession on the development industry.&bsp; The lack of credit and dismal prospects for sales led many developers to postpone initiation of previously approved projected. This prompted concern in the development community that with the passage of time and no action on their part, development permits would soon begin to expire. &bsp;

Ruth says the new law, approved on Aug.5, 2009, has revived a few developments in Polk County, but most significantly extended the life of over 15 subdivisions. The affected developers have been contacting the planning office, Ruth says, in an effort to try and better understand the extension.