Workforce housing development

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Columbus applies for grant for 32 homes at Little White Oak Mountain

COLUMBUS—The Town of Columbus is applying for a grant to run water and sewer to a proposed workforce housing project at Little White Oak Mountain. 

Columbus Town Council met Thursday and heard from Sarah Grymes, with Housing Assistance Corporation, who is developing the project. 

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Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth said the HAC has acquired the front 35-40 acres of the property to put in a workforce housing development. The houses that would be in the subdivision, Barth said, would be three different types. 

Barth said the construction costs will be taken care of by HAC and the HAC asked the town to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to pay for the water and sewer improvements. The total costs for water and sewer improvements are estimated at $1,618,148. 

Council approved applying for the grant. The town needed to make the application because HAC does not qualify to apply for a state grant because they are a nonprofit. 

Grymes reviewed the project, saying HAC is looking at developing 32 lots on the bottom 30 acres. 

Barth said the main sewer line will be 8 inches and the lines to individual lots will be 4 inches. 

Grymes said they will build 8 houses, with the project being built out in stages. 

Grymes said typically, HAC builds 12 houses in a year with their current staff. 

“We will have two employees working just in Polk County,” Grymes said. 

She said the potential for the Little White Oak Mountain property is 32 homes, so it will take several years to build out. 

“We’re just excited to be bringing this to Polk County,” Grymes said. 

The grant is due Sept. 30 and it should be known if the town was approved by the end of November. 

Grymes added that there is no match to the grant, so there will be no cost to the town. 

She also reviewed the type of homes HAC builds, including 3-4 bedroom homes. 

Councilman Robert Williamson said he saw some HAC homes in Black Mountain recently and they are very impressive. 

Grymes said the first 30 or so acres at Little White Oak will be developed, but the grade gets steep after that, so the best estimate is 32 homes. 

The subdivision fronts Highway 108 so all traffic will flow onto Highway 108. 

Council asked Grymes to meet with its planning board to discuss the project. 

Conserving Carolina acquired the former Fosters Creek Preserve, which is off Houston Road and Highway 108 in Columbus. Columbus annexed the property a few years ago. Fosters Creek did not get developed, so Conserving Carolina acquired the property and granted approximately 300 acres to Polk County for walking and biking trails, the approximately 30 acres to HAC for the workforce housing development and approximately 600 acres to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission to extend the game lands in the area.