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Cary Water Shortage Threatens Housing Industry

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CARY — Cary's water shortage may put a cap on the town's booming housing industry, and town leaders are tackling the controversial topic.

This is a problem that could eventually affect a number of the Triangle's fast growing towns.

Cary cannot build another water plant for at least five years, so town leaders have to find a way to cut the demand.

They are looking at dramatically reducing the number of building permits issued, and at least for now, they are not giving out any. Builders say if a permanent building permit limit does go through, they will not be the only ones feeling the pinch.

"I've got close to $5 million in the ground already," said Centex Homes Regional President Scott Batchelor.

Centex Homes says if the town council does decide to limit the number of building permits issued each year, it will have to lay off some of its 90 Raleigh area employees.

"It's catastrophic when somebody yanks your ability to go and get the building permit out from under you at the last minute at a complete and total surprise to you," said Batchelor.

Cary's best known controlled growth supporter, Councilman Glen Lang, says the town has little choice in the matter. Either it slows down the home building, or current residents may have to resort to water rationing.

Subcontractors with no vested interest in the Cary properties they work on seem less alarmed by the town's stance, since they could easily find work elsewhere.

But another Cary builder who is sitting on an empty lot says subcontractors should worry, because these kinds of growth issues will follow them from one boomtown to the next.

Cary's town council proposes to limit the number of residential permits to 368 a year. Right now the town annually issues close to 2,000 of them.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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