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APFs: A Way to Control Growth?

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RALEIGH — New houses and apartments are being built in great number across Wake County, but often no new roads or other supporting services have been installed.

Wake County's growth comes at a price. Families who move into new homes will learn the County may soon be ill-equipped to provide the services they expect.

The concern is that the county lets thousands of new residents in its doors every year but doesn't have the new roads, schools, parks or water systems in place to handle that growth. And that is why at least one Wake County commissioner wants to check out something called an Adequate Public Facilities (APF) ordinance.

Wake County Commissioner Yvonne Brannon fears that explosive growth could soon overwhelm Wake County -- and that's why she wants to at least explore the idea of an APF ordinance that would limit growth where the roads, schools, parks and water systems are already overburdened.

"And the concept has developed different ways in different counties in states across the nation. In Wake County I am not sure how that ordinance would work -- but I do think the concept of how we plan for schools and plan for growth in general is very vital and very critical to our development in the next couple of years," Brannon said.

Homebuilder Jeff Fike admits an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance would cut into his business.

Fike doubts it would address the County's long-term needs anyway. Adding taxes may be the only answer.

"You think about the Wake County Commissioners in the past, not this current board, but the previous board did not raise taxes, and they're very proud of that. In fact, I think they may have reduced taxes. But as a result, we're paying the price now, because we didn't get ahead of the curve on the growth," said Fike.

One Wake County town is already working with an APF. Cary has a plan that has a roads segment, along with segments covering water and sewer, parks and schools. Some portions of the ADF have already been approved.

But one critic says an APF is a one-size fits all solution that cannot easily be applied countywide. In particular, Wake's heavy municipal and rural areas may make it difficult to establish across the board regulations.