08/12/12 — County gets $400,000 to fix substandard housing

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County gets $400,000 to fix substandard housing

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 12, 2012 1:50 AM

A $400,000 scattered site housing grant will give county officials the opportunity to improve several substandard dwellings in the county.

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning cleared the way for the project to get under way when they formally accepted the grant and hired RSM Harris Associates of Goldsboro to administer it.

No local funding match is required.

The next step will be to select a limited number of families who qualify for the assistance through the Community Investment and Assistance portion of the Community Development Block Grant program administered by the state Department of Commerce.

The county maintains a file of past applicants and more can be expected, officials said.

The project is focused on helping low-income homeowners and those with special needs, particularly the elderly, the handicapped or those with large families. The objective will be to identify families with the greatest need, including the greatest housing need. That could mean a house requiring major renovations or even replacement.

The county will work with its small towns since municipalities are not eligible to apply for the grant on their own, but do fall under the county's umbrella.

Goldsboro, however, is not eligible since it already receives federal housing assistance.

The county must obligate the $400,000 by Sept. 22, 2014, and must have spent all of the money by Dec. 22, 2014.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved five late applications to include property in the present use value program.

The county tax office had recommended that the late applications be denied. The total taxes involved in cases are approximately $15,000 to $20,000, tax officials said.

As a general rule, all property in the state is valued at its market value -- the estimated price at which it would bought or sold. Present use value is the land's value in its current use as agricultural, horticultural or forest land.

Land that qualifies for the program is assessed at that value, which is usually substantially less than market value, meaning lower tax bills.

Commissioner Jack Best did not vote on any of the five and, in accordance with board policy, was counted as a yes vote to make the decisions unanimous.

Best said he did not disagree with the approval, but had not voted because he had been in the same situation in the past.

Commissioner Ray Mayo said he had a problem with going back four years to recoup taxes once the land is removed from the program.

"There should be no penalty because if people are applying to come on they have good intentions," he said.

Among other items the board approved were:

* the final plat for the 36-lot Olde Mill Creek section 1 that will be built on 18.75 acres on the west side on Perkins Road by Sasser Home Builders. Smith said three new roads already have been built and the developer is ready to start selling the lots.

* a public hearing on Sept. 4 at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex to consider a rezoning request. Sandra S. Thompson has asked the county to rezone 0.27 acres from residential to community shopping to allow her to rent an existing building to be used a thrift store. The building is located on the north side of Potts Road at the corner of Willard Avenue.

* meeting on Sept. 4 as the Board of Adjustments to consider a request by Danny Bryant to open a day care center at 103 and 105 Dell Drive at Dudley. The property is zoned residential 10 where day care centers are allowed as a special use.