Local News

Cary Votes to Fund Land Banking Program

Posted January 25, 2008 1:12 p.m. EST

— The Cary Town Council on Thursday night unanimously approved $23 million to fund a land banking program that would reserve land for future public uses.

The program would enable the town to buy land at current prices and then set it aside until it is needed in the future, when land prices are projected to be higher. The land could be used for schools, post offices, parks, greenways, open space, community centers and fire stations.

The program "insulates the future public purpose – and the taxpaying citizens that support the governments – from rising land costs," town officials said in a release.

Councilman Nels Roseland proposed the program in August, arguing it was necessary in a town where development consumes as much as 1,000 acres a year.

Town officials will first concentrate on buying sites wanted by the Wake County Public School System, as well as for a post office and open space.

Under a comprehensive plan, the land banking program would be used to purchase more than 700 acres for public use, including up to 500 acres for parks, 250 acres for six public schools,12 acres for a post office and 3 to 4 acres for a fire station.

Officials said the town will look at acquiring large, un- or underdeveloped parcels, as well as sites that are "ideal for community use in the future." Cary will also consider purchasing land outside its town limits.

The sites would be acquired through purchase by the town solely or jointly with another agency, donation by a private party or preservation easements. Developers could also set aside land. Cary will allow other governments to purchase the land in the future at or near cost.

The land banking program will be funded by $3 million from developer contributions, $5 million from the general fund, $5 million from the utility fund balance and $10 million in asset-backed debt.

In September, a citizens' committee recommended that the WCPSS also work with municipalities to create land banking programs.