Local News

Knightdale family struggles to keep land

Posted May 23, 2008 4:29 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2008 7:58 a.m. EDT

— Growth and a zoning change to a section of farmland near U.S. Highway 64 have added thousands to a Knightdale family's tax bill and might force the family to change their plans for future generations.

Siblings Bill Jones and Wanda Ramm said their family has owned the land, in Knightdale’s commercial district, for more than 100 years. The two plan to build a house and retire on the land, keeping it for their descendents.

“There’s a lot of sentimental and a lot of family value here, more than there is financial value,” Jones said.

Although they do not farm the land anymore, the siblings recalled when their grandparents did.

"She drove the mule and wagon over here or the tractor, and Granddaddy sat on the back," Jones said.

However, the land does also have financial value, which could likely increase: It’s near a commercial district that could catch the eye of land developers, who might eventually pay top dollar for it, local officials said.

In 2005, Knightdale rezoned the area surrounding the property, so it could house multi-family developments.

Mayor Russell Killen said the goal is to make the area around Knightdale's commercial heart more pedestrian friendly, so people can walk to shops and other places.

That rezoning and planned growth drives up the value of properties and the taxes paid on the them.

“Property tax does not look at the person. It looks at what is the value of the asset,” Wake County Revenue Director Emmett Curl said.

Jones, the registered owner of the family farm, said his property tax bill is thousands more than it was a couple years ago.

During a recent re-appraisal, Wake County officials found the property did not have water and sewer hookups. Once the land receives those connections, the property value and taxes could increase more.

Jones and Ramm said it will be tough for them to pay that bill, but they do not want to sell the land.

"It's not just some land that (we can say), 'OK, we're on it now, and we can get rid of that,'" Ramm said. "It's heritage."