Annexation, budget on agenda for East Spencer public hearing

Published 12:03 am Sunday, June 5, 2022

By Elisabeth Strillacci

EAST SPENCER — Residents will have the chance Monday night to ask questions and voice their opinions on the proposed annexation of about 130 acres that abuts Interstate 85.

They will also have one last opportunity to comment on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. at town hall Monday before the Board of Aldermen approves it.

The parcel being considered for annexation is on Bringle Ferry Road and the goal is to annex the parcel then change the zoning.

According to Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Brandon Emory, the parcel falls within East Spencer’s ETJ or Extra Territorial Jurisdiction. An ETJ means property is within one mile of the city limits of a town and is therefore subject to that town’s zoning and permit regulations.

“A developer or anyone who wants to develop property within our ETJ will have to apply for permits through the town of East Spencer,” Emory explained.

Currently the parcel is zoned 85-ED, which is the town’s general Economic Development zoning and in order for housing to go up on the site, the zoning will need to change to R-3 residential.

Emory said once annexation is approved, the zoning would be addressed.

The town would see a tax benefit from a residential development on such a large parcel, according to Town Administrator Michael Douglas, who preferred to reserve further comment until after the public hearing.

In addition to a hearing on the potential annexation, residents will have a last chance to comment on or ask questions about the proposed town budget of $5.61 million, an increase of about $450,000 over last year’s budget, which was $5.16 million.

“We will go over the budget one more time because we want to be sure we have properly funded salary increases for our people,” said Mayor Barbara Mallett. “We used money from the sale of some property to bring the salaries up over a three-year period, and we just want to be sure we have all that taken care of.”

Mallett encouraged residents to ask any questions they might have, even if they prefer not to speak at the meeting.

“If they would rather, they can call and make an appointment to speak privately to me or to our town administrator, they don’t have to come to the meeting,” she said. “We just want to hear from them.”

While the $5.61 million will come from town coffers, the full bottom line of the budget will be $9.61 million, because it will reflect an anticipated expenditure of $4 million in state grant monies on the water and sewer systems. East Spencer has been on the Local Government Commission’s watchlist for past financial issues with its water/sewer fund and Douglas has said the grant funds, which total $23 million from the North Carolina Viable Utilities fund, will go a long way toward getting the town back on the proper course. But none of that money will come from the town itself.