Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council [more…]

The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built [more…]

Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the [more…]

Notice and Hearing Requirements for Economic Development Appropriations

As discussed in a prior post, Session Law 2015-277 requires North Carolina local governments [more…]

The Community and Economic Development program at the School of Government provides public officials with training, research, and assistance that support local efforts to create jobs and wealth, expand the tax base, and maintain vibrant communities. We deploy the resources of the University to support the development goals of communities in North Carolina.

Recent Blog Posts |

  • Local Government Owners of Historic Property Asked to Convey Property by End of 2017: What Public Officials Should Know

    Federal tax reform is likely to be enacted before the end of the year. While the final form of the bill has not been determined, it is nearly certain that federal historic preservation tax credits—an important financing mechanism for preservation of historic properties—will be significantly affected. In fact, most observers anticipate that the value of the tax credits will be diminished by tax reform, thereby making historic preservation projects more difficult to finance and complete. For that reason, some real estate developers have asked local government owners of historic properties to convey those properties to new ownership before the end of the 2017 tax year (December 31, 2017) in order to “grandfather” those projects under the older, more favorable rules. This post briefly describes how federal tax reform could affect historic rehabilitation projects and offers some guidance for North Carolina public officials who wish to respond (on a very tight deadline) to a request to transfer historic properties owned by local governments. Read more »

  • What Barn Raising Looks Like in Petaluma, California

    My last post argued that we should think of the role of local government in communities more in terms of “barn raising” than the more transactional metaphor of a vending machine. This idea was put forth in the great book Community and the Politics of Place by former Missoula, Montana mayor Daniel Kemmis, and later picked up in a popular article written by Frank Benest, former city manager of Palo Alto, California. The crux of the notion is the need for communities to move away from an “us” and “them” relationship between citizens and community organizations on the one hand, and local government on the other, and rather think of local government as a key community institution that is both part of and an extension of the community.

    Read more »

  • How Asheville Revitalized its Downtown: Part II

    Asheville, North Carolina is increasingly lauded for its mountain views, restaurants, craft beer, and art scene.  It seems like Asheville is always on a “best” list – most recently, it was touted as the number one best place to visit in the US in 2017 by Lonely Planet. But just what factors explain this downtown renaissance and revitalization Asheville is current experiencing? And who shapes downtown Asheville, and what can we learn about urban governance and downtown revitalization from their success? A previous blog post explored the former question, and this blog post will examine the latter. Read more »

  • Our Shared Fate, Part 2

    The ongoing debate about the deepening divide between rural and urban America and how this plays out in North Carolina was the topic of a previous blog post, Our Shared Fate. This post discusses some ideas about how the divide can be bridged.

    The Triangle J Council of Governments held its regional summit in September 2017 on A Future Together: Connecting Our Urban and Rural Communities. The Triangle region faces challenges of rapid growth and the associated issues of land use, urbanization, and transportation. The framing for the rural-urban discussion is how to ensure that the benefits of increasing prosperity are fairly distributed. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: November 2017

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    Raleigh and Charlotte are among the top 5 cities in United States with the fastest-growing incomes, according to a new study: http://bit.ly/2lIDos1

    370 acres added to now 1900-acre Greensboro-Randolph County Megasite: http://on.wfmy.com/2AORUBS 

    CBS news reports that 10,000 evictions have been filed in Durham, North Carolina since 2016. http://bit.ly/2zU0EJw

    Other CED items:

    Impact investing post describes distinctions between mission-related investments (MRI) & program-related investments (PRI): http://bit.ly/2zat9jp

    Report looks at evictions and rental insecurity – found 1 in 5 renters recently struggled to pay rent. http://bit.ly/2AEJXPC

    Carsey School reports that concentrated poverty increased in both rural and urban areas since 2000s, reversal from 1990s. http://bit.ly/2B2i4Ai  Read more »

  • Local Government Financial Resilience and Preparation Before a Natural Disaster

    This year’s U.S. Atlantic hurricane season is officially the most expensive ever, amounting to $202.6 billion in damages across the Atlantic basin. This record-breaking hurricane season brought some of the most catastrophic storms in recent memory. As Hurricane Katrina reshaped New Orleans in 2005, the destruction induced by Harvey, Irma, and Maria will have lasting consequences for cities and towns in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The devastation is likely to be even more long-lasting for many of the hardest hit small islands across the Caribbean. And hurricanes are not the only natural disasters with a hefty price tag; drought, freezing temperatures, severe storms, wildfires, and winter storms cause billions of dollars in damages every year.

    As a result of rapid urbanization, climate change, and increases in population and material wealth continue to mount, municipalities are becoming extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, making it necessary for local governments to become more resilient to catastrophes. Natural disaster resiliency often focuses on the built environment and hazard mitigation, but what about weathering the storm from a financial perspective? The following tips can help a local government be financially resilient in the face of a natural disaster: Read more »

  • Tick Tock! The Clock Is Now Running for Zoning Enforcement

    Jimmy lives on a large lot in a residential area of town.  Back in January 2013, he started a small auto repair shop in the garage behind his house.  You can hardly see the shop from the road because of the house and topography, but Jimmy did post a small sign near his mailbox to direct folks around to “Jimmy’s Auto Repair.” The town’s zoning enforcement officer saw the sign in September 2013.  The zoning ordinance prohibits auto repair in residential districts, so the officer sent a letter to seek compliance. Because of limited staff, many other zoning matters, and the lack of complaints about Jimmy’s operation, the zoning officer has not pursued enforcement any further.  This year a new neighbor moved in next door, saw and heard the auto repair shop, and called the town to complain.  Can the town now enforce the zoning ordinance against Jimmy’s commercial business in this residential area?  The law on this is changing.

    A new law sets specific statutes of limitation for land use enforcement litigation.  This blog explores the new limitations and practical considerations for moving forward.  The new law may spark local governments to initiate additional zoning enforcement actions over the next year (in anticipation of the law’s 2018 effective date) and to take a more proactive stance on zoning enforcement generally.

    Read more »

  • Where and How? – The TRF Model for Community Investment

    Of the many challenges in community revitalization, determining how to allocate limited funds is often at the top of the list. Should the dollars be split evenly by focusing on the very worst neighborhoods? Or should there be a form of targeting or some sort of custom-tailored solution? If the latter, how is the solution designed?

    In 2001, the Reinvestment Fund designed a market value analysis system to help this investment decision making process. The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) is a Philadelphia based community development financial institution that brings together individual investors, banks, government officials, private foundations and faith-based and community organizations to invest in communities.

    The market value analysis or MVA is a data-based tool designed by TRF to inform community revitalization and manage neighborhood change. Using spatial and statistical analysis, it identifies and characterizes local conditions throughout a specific locality and creates a typology or index of residential real estate markets. In Philadelphia for example, the MVA categorizes block groups as “regional choice/high value”, “steady”, “transitional”, or “distressed”. Read more »

  • Leveraging Revenues from New Development: Critical Infrastructure Assessment Authority in 2017

    Critical infrastructure assessments are charges levied against property (usually new development) to reimburse a local government for the costs incurred for certain public infrastructure projects that directly benefit the property. In other states this tool offers an alternative to imposing impact fees on new development (that is often preferred by developers) to compensate the local government for the impact of that new development. In North Carolina, local governments do not have authority under general law to impose impact fees (with the limited exception of system development fees for water and sewer infrastructure). Nonetheless, critical infrastructure assessments are among the many tools that counties and municipalities in this state have to fund public infrastructure projects that benefit private development. Like project development financing authority (aka tax increment financing or TIF), the critical infrastructure assessment authority allows a local government to leverage new growth to pay for public infrastructure improvements that are necessitated by and/or benefit the new growth. And it does so without putting all the financial risk on the developer and without directly affecting the local unit’s general fund. For these reasons, it is a potentially attractive tool to both local government officials and developers. That said, of all the methods available to local governments to fund public capital outlay, a critical infrastructure assessment is among the most complex and most costly. Because of that, it is not be the right tool for every circumstance.

    I have blogged about the general contours of a local government’s critical infrastructure assessment authority here, and here. During the past few legislative sessions, the General Assembly has both extended the sunset date (now to July 1, 2020), and made a few (mainly clarifying) amendments to the law. This post reviews the general structure of, and process for levying, these assessments, and for funding and undertaking the underlying project(s), as the law has been amended in recent years. Read more »

  • In Vino, Veritable Impact on Tourism

    Vines at Linville Falls Winery; Source: High Country Press

    As of now, the fires that burned in Northern California’s wine region earlier this month are nearly 100% contained. It has been a dramatic, devastating scene in perhaps the most iconic region for grape-growing and wine-drinking outside of Tuscany or Bordeaux, and the impacts are, and will continue to be, far-reaching. In the wake of the fires lie flattened businesses, torched earth, and the shaken but resurging livelihoods of hundreds of wine growers and vineyard owners. Read more »

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