City Council Recap – Jan 11, 2024 (Dixon Ridge Development Agreement)

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The January 11th City Council was action-packed, with most of the discussion surrounding the upcoming 384 acre Dixon Ridge Development and the negotiated agreement between the developer and the City.  While the agreement was ultimately approved by the City Council, citizens were given a chance to speak – along with a representative from the developer.

Emotions certainly ran high – with many questions posed by citizens that City Council and City Management were unable to answer given the nature and format of the hearing and meeting itself.  Regardless, Councilman Jimmy West highlighted the need for these questions to be answered.  We trust that Council and City Management will answer and address them in the proper time and format; however, we’ll also try to answer some of them here as well.

Note: Mountaineers For A Better Community does not speak for the City, the Council, City Management, or the developers.  We are simply relaying information gleaned from the meeting itself, as well as our own experience and research.

What Is The Economic Impact Of The Dixon Ridge Development?

In short, it provides the potential for massive positive economic impact for the City of Kings Mountain.  This would be a landmark development, already securing a status as the first Planned Development zoning in the history of the City.  Not only does the development itself represent a potential $750 million investment in the City and surrounding areas, but the future utility and tax revenues generated by it will provide substantial economic impacts to the City budget for decades to come.

What Is The Development Agreement?

There seemed to be some confusion about the nature of the development agreement itself. The City Manager spoke to the history and the need for this agreement, which has been intensely negotiated with the developer for over a year.  Specifically, the City Manager highlighted the casino boondoggle as a reason why the City pursued such an agreement in this way.  When the casino secured approval and it began to move forward, it did so with zero agreement or guarantees with the City.  As we have been saying for over a year, the City dropped the ball.  The City Manager insisted that we not drop the ball again – hence the developer agreement. 

So, what’s in the developer agreement?  First, an innovative (for KM) payment in lieu of taxes arrangement that commits the developer to actually building (remember all of the planned developments around town that developers are just sitting on and doing nothing?).  This ensures that development incentives are structured as property tax rebates, and they cannot receive them until properties are fully developed and property taxes are paid.  This is years down the road.  Today, the city outlay is zero dollars.

Furthermore, this development agreement outlines exactly what can be built.  And it includes guarantees for ample parks, green spaces, and easements for trails and recreational areas.

What About Traffic Studies, Environmental Impact Reports, Etc?

Many citizens raised concerns about the lack of traffic studies, environmental impact reports and other studies to date.  The representative from the developer accurately stated that the Development Agreement itself does not need to cover these because they are covered by the Unified Development Ordinance that every other development or construction is subject to.  In short, they will be occurring before building permits are issued and development begins.  That UDO was recently updated, so it is modern and encompasses everything needed to address many of these concerns.

Are Potentially Hazardous Materials Being Stored In The Development’s Industrial Properties?

No – Several highly intense industrial uses are specifically excluded in this agreement.

Will The Developer Commit To Putting Certain Price Points On Homes?

The developer representative declined to do this, and he raised questions over whether such a thing is even legal under the Fair Housing Act.

Why Is This Agreement Not Able To Be Amended Years Down The Road?

This is certainly a question for the City to answer rather than us, but from our perspective… what developer would ever sign something that could be changed a decade from now?  This level of economic impact and investment is going to be significant for our City for decades to come.  Overly-onerous development agreements designed to allow the City to change our minds in the middle of development are not feasible and severely endanger our ability to attract this level of investment and economic opportunity.

Some of the other items covered in the meeting…

  • A presentation from the local Girl Scouts regarding a proposed dog park project in Kings Mountain (great presentation!)
  • Several budgement amendments regarding infrastructure projects such as a new electric substation, sewer line improvements in Beason Creek and Bethlehem South
  • A budget amendment to complete the Capital Paving Project authorized in the FY23-24 budget
  • A motion to authorize an additional undbudgeted sworn officer position to aid and supplement the hiring of a Police Detective

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