Spencer establishes historic preservation incentive grant

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

By Madeline Wagoner


SPENCER — The Board of Alderman was approached Tuesday night by the town’s historic preservation commission to establish a new historic preservation incentive grant program to replace the current residential rehabilitation grant policy.

The existing policy currently offers up to $500 in grants and that is now proposed to increase to $2,000 matching grants.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Kyle Harris said deficiencies in the previous guidelines include no clear procedures for scoring applications and what projects are eligible for funding. The new policy will provide a scoring system that stimulates investments in rehabilitation to historic Spencer homes with severe exterior problems.

Eligible properties include residential, owner-occupied properties in the historic district or homes over 50 years old either in or outside the district.

Harris said he hopes if the residential program is successful, a larger budget for the program may be set in the future.

“It also raises the possibility of, potentially in the future, requesting special funds for lower income homeowners so they can complete their needed projects and maintenance for their homes,” Harris said.

The grant proposed for low-income owners would be reimbursed funding, meaning homeowners would be required to pay upfront for their needs before submitting a reimbursement request to the city.

Board member Pat Sledge asked if the funding provided by the program will be on a first come, first served basis or if there is a certain time to accept applications. Harris said the process of reviewing applications and critiquing their needs would be on a rolling basis, meaning there would be no deadline.

He added it’s possible policies could be set for lower income owners in particular, including what would be outlined in their application. The only requirement in place now is paying up front before submitting the reimbursement application.

Staff members would then check the request before the homeowner would sign a grant contract. Each application will be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission and the contract would be drafted and signed by the manager.

In other business from Tuesday’s meeting:

• The town plans to submit a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant application by May 2. John Wood, a consultant who attended a public meeting concerning the planned park, says 143 people responded to a survey that was sent out.

The parks and recreation committee held two drop-in sessions at the end of January and a community forum at the end of March to discuss the park plan. Once the plan is fully adopted, meetings will be set with the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, government committees, state elected officials and the N.C. Transportation Museum to approve the plan. Park designs will also be presented to the Winterfest committee for approval.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund program provides a matching grant up to $500,000 based on the project budget.

The board also adopted an updated parks and recreation master plan. An up-to-date plan is an important part of receiving a PARTF grant.

• A text amendment to the Code of Ordinances for regulating front yard parking on grass and dirt was adopted. The plan includes notifying owners of vehicles parked on erodible surfaces and providing a timeline to add needed driveways for parking on the property.

• A text amendment to the Code of Ordinances for adding a water and sewer extension policy was adopted to help generate more tax base through annexation. This plan includes extending water and sewer lines outside of the extra-territorial jurisdiction area to reach other parts of the county when needed.

• A budget amendment was adopted by the board for the 8th Street Ballpark. The donation of $10,000 will be used for revenues and expenditures. Organizer Rusty Miller also discussed an event set to take place on June 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate the improvements that have been made.

• The town police department announced the hiring of two new officers.