Saturday, August 6, 2011

City Council to Slow Growth Again?

There is yet another resolution in front of the City Council that would harm business if passed, and unfortunately it looks as if some on the council, including Laura Padgett, are leaning toward its passage.  It would require developers to put up a financial guarantee before demolishing a building.

There are several problems with this.  Firstly, a study of several other North Carolina cities reveals that the majority of cities do not require it.  Secondly, the fee can be quite substantial.  It is a minimum of $1,500 or $1.50 per square foot, whichever is greater.  This means that a two story building that is 30 x 30 ft. would have to put up a guarantee of $2,700 before demolition.  Thirdly, the resolution will apply to all buildings in Wilmington, not just to buildings in the Central Business District. 

This resolution is far too broad and blunt for a minor problem.  Since 2006, there have only been 20 cases where the city has demolished a structure.  The total cost has been about $60k.  The city is able to recoup this by placing liens on the property.  Of the 20 cases, 19 have been involuntary demolitions, meaning there never would have been a demolition permit applied for in the first place.

There has been only one case where a voluntary demolition was taken over by the city and that was the recent demolition of a warehouse by the convention center.  Would the council have done this if the structure had not been in the line of sight of their precious convention center, which at least one council member said will create "thousands" of jobs?  (If you believe that, I've got a Skyway Bridge to sell you.)

The city attorney recommends against passage of this resolution, and the zoning board unanimously recommends against its passage.  Will the council be blind to the facts staring it right in the face?

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