Columbus takes up final draft of Foster Creek plan

Published 6:01 pm Monday, September 12, 2011

After discussing a development agreement with Foster Creek Preserve for about a year, the Town of Columbus is ready to consider approving the final draft this week.
Columbus held a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 8 and heard several comments and suggested changes to the draft from the public.
Highlights of the development agreement include that Foster Creek will run water and sewer lines to the development, pay for an officer for two years with a vehicle, construct a water storage tank (300,000 gallons) and construct an emergency operation center. The development agreement is for 20 years.
Resident Susan Johann expressed concern over the draft agreement including a dollar figure for the police officer.
She said if the development doesn’t begin for five years, the value of the contribution could change.
Council agreed to change the wording to more broad terms, such as stating that Foster Creek will provide the town with an entry-level salary for a police officer for two years.
Other questions came from David Weiss, who asked why the agreement chose the $500,000 figure for Foster Creek to pay for running water lines.
Town council said that number was negotiated between the town and the development and is based on engineering figures for the cost. Weiss also asked if there’s any connotation that the officer paid by Foster Creek will act as a security guard for the development.
Columbus Mayor Eric McIntyre said the officer will be hired as a town employee and no one officer will be assigned to the development.
He said different officers will patrol the development at different times and there will not be an officer at the development all the time.
Lisa Krolack asked what happens with the agreement after 20 years.
Columbus attorney Bailey Nager said the agreement can be reviewed every year by the town and Foster Creek and the agreement can be extended after the 20 years if necessary.
Nager also said a development agreement is fairly new in North Carolina with large developments and is not required, but is an opportunity for each party to make sure that important things are accomplished.
Foster Creek representatives also attended the public hearing last week, including Scott Kilby, Foster Creek project manager with Forest City Land Group and attorney Michael Burch.
Kilby said the improvements made, such as water and sewer lines, will be dedicated to the town and there will also be turn lanes placed on Hwy. 108 and/or Houston Road.
There will be two entrances to Foster Creek; one off Hwy. 108 and one off Houston Road. The state will determine whether or not turn lanes will be necessary at both entrances.
“We believe this agreement will enhance the development of Foster Creek, and equally important, we believe the town and the public will gain substantial benefits with the development,” Kilby said.
McIntyre said he feels there are many things in the agreement that will benefit Columbus, including all the infrastructure and the 300,000-gallon water tank.
He said the emergency operation center will also be a benefit as he named a couple incidents in history when an emergency station would have been beneficial in that area.
Columbus officials said a generator will be placed at the emergency operations center, whether it is installed by Foster Creek or the town.
Foster Creek is a planned 687 dwelling unit subdivision located on 1,065 acres. The town approved the master plan on Nov. 19, 2009 and approved a special use permit on May 13, 2010, with both parties working on the development agreement since.
Depending on the timing of state and federal approvals, infrastructure improvements, lot sales and approximately 100 lots are planned to be developed in the 2012 to 2014 timeframe.
Lot development is expected to continue until 2030.
Columbus Town Council meets this Thursday, Sept. 15, when the final development agreement will be considered.

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