City Council will consider the proposed management contract for the creation of a land trust | Local news


City Council recently gave the green light to City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney to negotiate a proposed service contract, in the amount of up to $ 250,000, for a management team to establish a community land trust in Rocky Mount.

This authorization is based on the condition and expectation that the proposed agreement is presented to the board for consideration and vote.

The point was raised at the regular board meeting on December 13, which was the last of the seven-member panel in 2021.

The item is on the agenda for Monday’s regular board meeting, which is set for 7 p.m., with the proposed contract amount, if approved, to be paid from over $ 11.52 million. American Rescue Plan Act federal funds dollars tagged for the town of Mont Rocheux.

During the regular December 13 meeting, Councilor Lige Daughtridge proposed, with a second from Councilor Richard Joyner, permission for Small-Toney to negotiate, but after much discussion and questions.

“And the final contract will include the details of what we would get for that money?” Councilor Chris Miller asked for a few moments before the vote.

“Yes ma’am,” Small-Toney replied.

Moments before the vote, city councilor Andre Knight wanted to know from Small-Toney that, if council endorsed this, she would also say that council would receive detailed information in January about a proposed affordable housing bond issue. , as well as how this would relate to the proposed community land trust.

Small-Toney replied in the affirmative.

At the April city council retreat in Asheville, Small-Toney and his team presented a proposed affordable housing plan in Rocky Mount. The plan includes the creation of a community land trust, which is a non-profit organization that owns and manages land on which homes are built, with people licensed to buy a home on one of the properties.

Small-Toney also said she wanted to spend $ 1 million on the proposed community land trust from American Rescue Plan Act funds for the city.

At a board working session on November 8, the board heard by teleconference from Professor Jim Johnson of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School about the proposed leadership team. Johnson said at the time that he and his associates raised $ 1 million to help the effort from a source whose identity he was not currently disclosing.

During the discussion at the regular council meeting on December 13, Knight said he would like to have more time to see how the proposed community land trust will work and noted that he had not had enough time. to speak with stakeholders.

Knight has made it clear that he prefers to focus on a bond issue to build lots of houses.

“We have seven neighborhoods in this city – and just piecemeal it won’t work,” he said.

Knight recommended filing the Dec. 13 update until the board gets the information he, and the community, have requested about the proposed bond issue.

He clarified that he would agree with coupling the proposed community land trust with the proposed bond issue.

“But this council did not ask us to do the land trust and not pursue the housing bond,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

He also wanted to know how the board of directors of the proposed community land trust would be structured, how people would be appointed and how the city would work with stakeholders.

Joyner asked Small-Toney to talk about what has been done with the proposed community lands and some of the other things that have been done.

Small-Toney said one of the reasons for the April retirement in Asheville was to learn more about the community land trust there.

Small-Toney also said the community land trust is just one of many vehicles identified for establishing more affordable housing stock in Rocky Mount.

Prior to retirement in Asheville, Johnson and fellow Kenan-Flagler professor Jeanne Milliken Bonds had contacted city officials about the creation of a community land trust in Rocky Mount.

Small-Toney also clarified that she understands city council is interested in further researching and investigating the creation of a community land trust.

As for the proposed leadership team, Small-Toney said they would establish a small core of people, mostly from the community as well as one or two people working in banking and real estate in Rocky Mount, to form the group. initial, which in turn would seek nonprofit status and put in place the rules of community land trust.

Small-Toney said the result would be a partnership between an independent group and the city.

Regarding a bond issue, Small-Toney said two previous studies of housing in Rocky Mount identified at least eight neighborhoods to focus on.

She said small groups have conducted inventories in these neighborhoods and municipal staff have also been hired with bail attorney.

Later in the discussion, she clarified that the end goal was to completely restore all eight quarters, which will require a considerable amount of resources.

She also said that she and her team met with council members in breakout sessions.

She said if she remembered correctly, “we looked at numbers that approached $ 47 million for a bond, up to $ 56 million, to give you an idea of ​​the city’s debt capacity.” and the tax rate associated with the issuance these bonds would be.

Daughtridge has made it clear that he believes the secret to such a nonprofit would be the ability to seek and obtain grants, given that the municipality does not have sufficient funds to fund affordable housing.

Daughtridge also made it clear that he understood that the proposed community land trust and the proposed bond issue would work together, so to speak, if the two were approved.

Daughtridge has also made it clear that he is comfortable moving forward by giving Small-Toney the opportunity to negotiate.

“And I think it’s probably safe that we continue with some of the small meetings because there are obviously still questions,” he said.

Additionally, he said he believed there was land the city needed to do things with because there were landowners who didn’t pay taxes and community codes needed to be enforced.

He also said that there is land that will not be part of the proposed community land trust or that will not be affected by the proposed bond issue that can be put on the market for people wishing to invest in Rocky. Mount can do it.

Ahead of the vote, City Councilor Reuben Blackwell said he needed clarity on a list of items.

They indicated whether the city would be able to transfer ownership to a nonprofit without having to go through a messed up tendering process or grant exemption from fees and taxes. Usually, a thwarted auction process refers to a period after a foreclosure sale of a property that gives another buyer the opportunity to bid higher for that property.

Blackwell also wanted to know about the proposed community land trust: “What are our returns that we are looking for?” Is it going to be ongoing or is that one-time funding for the setup, a start-up effort, and then you’re on your own? “

Small-Toney, in response, said there is legislation that she and her team are reviewing that originates from Winston-Salem.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that a bill, which is now law, gives the Town of Winston-Salem the ability to convert up to 253 municipality-owned lots into affordable housing for low-income residents and moderate.

The newspaper quoted Winston-Salem City Manager Lee Garrity as saying that the purpose of the law is to ensure that municipalities can sell such land as long as it is used for certain purposes, such as affordable housing. .

Garrity also said that in such situations the City of Winston-Salem could transfer the property to the developers without the money changing hands and in those cases the City could restrict future use of the property.

At the regular Rocky Mount city council meeting on December 13, Small-Toney made it clear that his intention in January was to bring back to council what the affordable housing and bond issuance processes in Rocky Mount would look like.

At the same time, Small-Toney said the specific amount of funds to invest in affordable housing would not be his decision and told council “I should leave it to you.”

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