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Report Suggests Capping Home Construction in Johnston Co.

Johnston County's growth management committee has recommended limiting the number of homes that can be built outside town limits.

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — A committee studying growth has put one of the biggest potential bombshells for any booming community in the laps of the Johnston County Commissioners—a proposal to limit residential growth.

Johnston's population has doubled in the past 15 years.

In a detailed report on the challenges of balancing county services with the swelling population, the county's growth management committee has recommended a cap that would limit the number of new homes built outside town limits to an average of one for every two acres of land.

"If we don't start working together and communicating, we're going to fall further and further behind on these needs for the county," said Johnston County Commissioner Allen Mims, who chairs the growth management committee.

Local developers argue that a cap would send the wrong message and put more burdens on taxpayers.

"When a government says, 'Well, you've got to do it this way,' and it gets much more narrow, that feels like that limits choices," said Michael Mangum, chief marketing officer for Fred Smith Co., one of Johnston County's larger developers.

"This is not an efficient way to develop, because it ultimately raises the costs of all of us taxpayers," Mangum said.

The proposal suggests that developers that want to build higher-density subdivisions could apply for special-use permits. They would be required to prove that they would help provide a balance of services, such as schools and roads.

"If they want to continue to grow and build the way they do, then they need to chip in," Mims said.

Johnston County will hold two public hearings on the issue on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30.


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