06/11/17 — Permit waiver deadline extended

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Permit waiver deadline extended

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 11, 2017 1:45 AM

The waiver deadline for certain county building and inspection fees has been extended through June 30, 2018, for victims of last October's Hurricane Matthew.

Wayne County commissioners approved the extension last week.

The county initially waived all building permit fees (general construction, electrical, plumbing, mechanical and septic tank) for construction necessitated by Hurricane Matthew. The waiver was through March.

"We have had a recent request, and may get more, for the same construction," County Manager George Wood told commissioners. "I have discussed this with our Chief Building Inspector Steve Stroud, and he and I recommend that you extend this waiver until June 30, 2018.

"We don't anticipate a great deal more of these, but this would allow us to offer this same assistance to those that are remaining."

Meanwhile, a plan that grew out of a series of N.C. Resilient Redevelopment Planning sessions in the spring has been submitted to the state.

It focuses on residential houses, rental stock, jobs, infrastructure, ecosystem and business and economic growth.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development required the state to adopt the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 that included the program designed for the 50 North Carolina counties, including Wayne County, that were hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.

The plans, one for each county, will be the basis for any supplemental funding received through Congress, the North Carolina General Assembly and other funding sources.

The plans will also provide the foundation for the state's Recovery Action Plan that is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before it can expend the funding received from the Community Development Block Grant -- Disaster Relief program.

According to the plan, 6,695 houses in Wayne County were impacted by the storm and subsequent historic flooding.

It is possible that number will grow.

Nearly 700 businesses in Goldsboro submitted Small Business Administration applications, and a large concentration of those were located within an area bounded by the Neuse and Little rivers, the Big Ditch and Stoney Creek.

Seven Springs was particularly hard hit with houses and businesses experiencing major damages.

Businesses in the county's oldest town submitted 42 SBA applications.

"In many cases, businesses plan not to return, including a bank and a restaurant," the plan reads. "While once an important resort town as well as a historically important location during the Civil War, the town has struggled to attract visitors and residents in recent years, and this storm event hastened the impacts of the changing economy."

One of the recommendations for Seven Springs is development of buyout properties into a recreational vehicle park and develop ecotourism.

The report notes several areas where stream debris buildup contributed to the flooding.

Those areas include Billy Branch, Falling Creek from the Neuse River to Thoroughfare Swamp, Halfmile Branch, Stoney Creek and Yellow Marsh Branch from Thoroughfare Swamp to First Congregational Church, Dudley.

Wayne County, Goldsboro and the Bear Creek Watershed together have received nearly $750,000 in grant funding for stream cleanup.

The plan recommends development of a program to assess and identify the best solutions for areas of widespread repetitive flooding of homes and that face continual flood risk.

The county would like to include the options of house elevation, reconstruction and/or acquisition as a part of the plan.

One area of particular interest is an examination of the need for additional housing and identifying funding for public development or public-private partnerships to provide quality housing.

According to the plan, much of the housing for low-to-moderate income households was impacted by the storm.

In many cases, for renters, homes are either not being repaired, or landlords are demanding steep rent increases once repaired, the plan says.

Solutions would include building capacity for future growth.

It is a countywide issue, with interest expressed especially for Fremont, according to the plan.

Another suggestion that grew out of the meetings concerns Goldsboro's Herman Park Center.

The city has a schematic plan for a new facility to replace the center. The goal is to not only serve the community's day-to-day recreational and gathering needs, but also to serve future emergency shelter needs.

Another priority would provide funding to Goldsboro to acquire several areas that have experienced repeated flooding.

The land would be for used as greenspace.

The identified properties are commercial, and thus do not qualify for the FEMA buyout process.

The city's goal, according to the study, is to allow the land to return to its natural state.

It would connect and extend parks and greenways and provide opportunities for passive recreation.

They include:

* An area on East Ash Street across from Stoney Creek Park.

* An area on both sides of South George Street from just north of West Elm Street, to just south of where South George Street intersects with U.S. 117.

* An area on the south side of U.S. 70 West just past its interchange with U.S. 117.

The plan is available online at rebuild.nc.gov.