City exploring infrastructure funding for River’s Edge

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:59 pm

The reduction and expiration of a performance bond for the River’s Edge subdivision has Roanoke Rapids city leaders thinking of ways to raise money for infrastructure to serve the needs of the community as developers press to move forward.

Mayor Emery Doughtie said the subdivision, located off East 7th Street not far from Manning Elementary School, is very important to the city’s future, considering new projects around the city, from the Geenex solar power development, to the Klausner project in Enfield will bring more people to the area.

“With all that going on, and with even more things happening, if anybody wants to be in Roanoke Rapids, we really don’t have a lot of subdivisions where people might want to build a new home,” Doughtie said. “We want to get that property where it’s marketable.”

The city’s part in that, Doughtie said, is helping boost infrastructure in the development.

City Manager Joseph Scherer said this includes installation of street lights, paving streets and other infrastructure.

The original performance bond agreed upon by the city’s planning department and the property’s original developer, Scherer said, came to $1.3 million. This bond insured against the developer failing to finish the project, which in the end happened. The money, Scherer said, is designed to allow for the installation of infrastructure by the city in the event the developer failed to finish.

In 2008, Scherer said, city council members authorized a reduction in the bond to $168,437.58. So far, Scherer has not been able to determine why council members authorized such a reduction.

However, the bond has since expired. The city was able to settle with the bond company for $115,000, but that amount will not cover the costs of installing the infrastructure the current developer, RBD Investments, are asking for in order to help move the project forward.

“They are interested in moving forward as quickly as they can,” Scherer said. “We’ve had preliminary discussions about responsibilities such as infrastructure.”

Scherer doesn’t have a timeframe on when work could begin in the development, but for those already living there, he’s eager to get infrastructure and city services in place as soon as they are able.

“We’re looking at what options are out there and we’re trying to decide how this can and should be handled,” Scherer said.

While it is possible the city will have to find some money to pay for future development at River’s Edge, Doughtie said the city and county have already done the taxpayers a huge service by putting in a $400,000 bid on the property when it came up for auction Oct. 25. This bid was designed to cover the taxes, and RBD’s upset bid a few days later meant the city and county would get the taxes owed out of the deal.

“It was a good business decision when they stepped up to put that bid on the property,” Doughtie said. “Some people questioned that, but that prevented the property from selling for less than what was owed on it in taxes. Then the taxpayers would have come up short, not being able to get what was owed on the property.”

RBD purchased the property for around $432,000 in early November. Robbie Davis, head of RBD, said he considers the development a long-term project but wants to get the properties marketable as soon as possible.

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