KM’s Looming Housing Crisis – Driven By Policy, Ignorance And Corporate Interests

Kings Mountain has a looming housing crisis – driven by years of restrictive policy, ignorance and arrogance, and inaction on the part of the Council and the developers who’ve tricked them over and over again. 

In Kings Mountain, housing prices are at an all-time high – up 11% in the last year – and inventory is inching lower and lower.  In August 2023, there were 80 homes for sale in Kings Mountain compared with 117 in Cherryville, a city half our size.  Since 2020, KM’s population has grown 17.7%, and the number of housing units hasn’t kept up.

Why is Kings Mountain at a net deficit for housing in one of the hottest – and most opportune – real estate markets in the Charlotte area?  Why are we missing out on all of the growth in the local economy and local tax base that goes with housing growth?

Let’s dive in…

A Failure On The Part Of The City Council

Your City Council has worked for the last decade to minimize new housing construction in Kings Mountain.  Apart from denying requests wholesale, they and the former City Management implemented restrictive development policies, selectively enforced codes and standards, and generally made it difficult for any new units to be built.

There are probably a few developments you’ve heard about, sure… Canon 35 and Orchard Trace.  Long-time Councilmembers Keith Miller and Jay Rhodes love to point at these as evidence that they’re pro-housing.  But where do these projects sit today?  As empty land for sale to the highest bidder.  

More on that below…

The former City Management and long-time members of the Council have been objectively anti-housing for the past decade.  Why?  Who knows… maybe they don’t want any new voters moving here who would upset their power base and control.  We can only speculate.

But one thing that we don’t need to speculate on is the negative impact of anti-growth policies.

No new houses mean no new tax dollars.  No new tax dollars mean no new economic impact (and higher taxes for you!).  No new economic impact means no new businesses, restaurants, or downtown revitalization.  No new houses essentially means no new growth.

While we all want to protect our small town charm and feel, we also want to see our city thrive and grow.  We believe our City Council members also want to see that, but they haven’t backed that up with their actions.  They’ve consistently voted and advocated for anti-growth policies that will harm our local economy for years to come.

The Albemarle Lithium Effect

When Albemarle started buying up land, homes and properties in town they initiated an economic chain of events that professional city management and qualified Council members would have been able to recognize.  But did they?  Of course not.

All of this buying from Albemarle has contributed to a net housing deficit in KM.  Numerous families have been displaced, and there are few housing options in this community.  Many have been forced to leave our town for other places they can afford. 

Why can’t they afford to stay here?  And why is it so hard for Kings Mountain’s young people – our children and grandchildren – to afford houses here?  Why are families who would love to move here skipping over Kings Mountain for somewhere else?  Because there are simply not enough houses available to buy, and this magnifies the impact of the national housing market especially in times like this. 

When a corporation like Albemarle buys up houses and land at unreasonable prices, it affects every property owner in the community.  This is good on paper for existing property owners, but it makes it extremely difficult for those trying to buy a home here.  Pair these impacts with national market trends that have driven prices and interest rates higher, and the situation becomes especially bad.

More pro-housing policies from the Council over the last decade could have mitigated these impacts – by increasing the available housing supply and empowering people and families who would love to buy their first home in our community.

Did our City Council have any clue that all of this was happening?  Of course not.  Because they look out for themselves, their own beliefs and their personal interests instead of the good of the community. 

Arrogance, Ignorance, and Bad Decisions

These are perhaps the biggest reasons that we have no new housing in Kings Mountain.  Our long-term Council members and the previous City Administration they enabled have long thought that they know best.  This leads to arrogance, ignorance, bad decisions and a lack of transparency with the public.

For example, many communities tell developers that if they want a property rezoned, they must begin construction within two years.  If the developer doesn’t start construction, then the zoning reverts back to the original.  Seems like fairness and common sense, right?

Well, the long-term members of the Council have repeatedly been bamboozled by smooth-talking developers with shiny presentations.  Remember Canon 35 and Orchard Trace?  Both of these developments were sold to our City Council members as great accomplishments that would bring jobs, homes and retail to our community.  They bent over backwards for these projects at the expense of others.  And where are these projects today?  Sitting as empty land for sale to the highest bidder, who will not necessarily live up to all of the promises the original developer made.

When a developer secures rezoning and promises from City Council, they can sell that land for profit without ever breaking ground.  And this is what has happened in Kings Mountain over and over again.  

The Housing Committee, led by long-time Councilmember Keith Miller, has been bragging about all of the new homes coming to Kings Mountain.  In reality, they have just made a few outside developers wealthy while King Mountain’s housing supply stays the same.  Keith Miller and Jay Rhodes can say that they’ve voted for new housing, but not in a way that guarantees it will be built and not just flipped for profit. 

It Starts With City Council

In one of the hottest and most opportune markets in the area, Kings Mountain has ONE new neighborhood under construction on Phifer Rd.  One neighborhood for all of the families displaced by the lithium mine; one neighborhood for KM’s younger residents who want to buy and stay here; one new neighborhood for families who would love to move to KM and contribute to our community.

One new neighborhood for KM’s regular working families and first-time homebuyers who want to become property owners and contribute to our community. 

It all starts with City Council and their long-standing anti-growth policies and arrogance in this subject. 

The community needs to take back control from a few long-time politicians who have been around long enough to be responsible for their failures.  Who have served their own needs and wants without regard to our City’s needs. 

It’s time for fresh ideas, new perspectives and new Councilmembers.  Enough of the good-ole-boys clubs who have repeatedly set us up for failure and lacked transparency and accountability at every turn. 

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