Raleigh homeowners may pay twice for road projects
Posted September 30, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Next week, Raleigh residents will get the chance to vote on a $75-million transportation bond – the largest bond in city history, which carries with it a one-cent property tax increase. If it passes, some residents say they will have to pay twice for the price of progress.
The proposed bond covers 18 transportation projects, including the widening of Buck Jones Road to three lanes from Farmgate Road to Xebec Way. Bicycle lanes, sidewalks and streetlights would also be added.
Eighty two homeowners and businesses along the road will have to pay the city for planned street improvements. That happens with any major road improvement, so it’s not unique to the bond. However, since the bond includes 14 major road projects, there's a good chance plenty of other residents will get letters from the city telling them to pay up.
Homeowner Phyllis Nunn says she may lose the grand old oaks that sit on her lawn due to the widening of Buck Jones Road. What really irks her, she says, is that she might have to pay for that. A letter from the city to residents along the one-mile stretch of the road explains how the multi-million project will add curbs and sidewalks. It also says the city will assess each homeowner $32 a foot for the improvements.
“It's not a good feeling that you get from the city when, not only are they going to chop up your front yard and bring noisy traffic closer to you, along with pollution, and you may lose your trees, and they're going to make you pay,” Nunn said.
Nunn and other neighbors will have 10 years to pay the assessment once construction is finished, but they say that’s little consolation.
“To me, over $3,000 is not a small amount of change for me, not when I look at my checkbook. It's a large amount of money. It just doesn't seem fair,” said homeowner Barbara Turner. “Bottom line is it’s not right, and it’s not fair.”
A state law passed in 1949 allows municipalities to recoup part of the cost of roadwork. Raleigh Public Works Director Carl Dawson says, in most cases, curbs and gutters are paid for by developers and the cost is passed on to homeowners.
“In Raleigh, we only assess for a portion of the curb and gutter cost,” Dawson said. “In this case, the curb and gutter are not there. Theoretically, they got a lower price for their property because it cost the developer less to build it, and the city is recouping the equity in putting that curb and gutter in.”
The city council plans to hold a public hearing on the Buck Jones Road improvement bond at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers.