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Talk of Our Towns 

Housing Developments, Municipalities Honored with 2015 Housing North Carolina Awards 

Housing developments in Durham, Garner, Huntersville and Mocksville were honored with Housing North Carolina Awards before 1,000 housing industry professionals during the NC Affordable Housing Conference in Raleigh in October. Sponsored by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, the 26-yearold statewide awards recognize outstanding homeownership, rental and supportive housing developments that can serve as models for other communities. 

Winning developments were selected for affordability, design, sustainability, community contribution, resident services and creative partnerships. They are: 

  • Norman Park, Huntersville, a 16- home neighborhood built by Our Towns Habitat for Humanity with support from the town, providing affordable, energy-efficient homes close to local schools and businesses. 
  • The Bungalows at Southside, Durham, 48 new homes that are part of a major revitalization project of the city. 
  • Willow Pond, Mocksville, a community of 50 energy-efficient apartments for seniors, overlooking a pond and close to services, which was developed by The Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina, based in Charlotte, and the Wesley Community Development Corporation of Huntersville. 
  • Timber Spring, Garner, a 48-apartment community for seniors developed by Evergreen Construction in the burgeoning White Oak area. 
  • Denson Apartments, Durham, 11 permanent apartments for homeless and disabled veterans developed by CASA in partnership with the city of Durham and the Home Depot Foundation, and named for Alex Denson, former chairman of CASA’s board of directors. 

Williamston Recognized for Excellence in Sustainability 

Audubon International recognized the Town of Williamston for its continued commitment to sustainability through recertification as an Audubon International Certified Sustainable Community. Audubon Director of Planning Brent Kanipe led the effort to maintain certification status for this town and is being recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International. The Town of Williamston was designated as an Audubon International Certified Sustainable Community in 2009 and is one of five communities in the world to receive the honor. 

Williamston Mayor Tommy Roberson said, “Williamston is very proud to receive this designation from Audubon International and is pleased to be recognized for all the efforts of town citizens, staff, and the town’s Board of Commissioners.” 

The Audubon International Sustainable Communities Program provides information and guidance to help communities preserve and enhance what makes them healthy and vibrant places to live, work, and play. Certified members define a vision for their future founded in the three pillars of sustainability–a healthy local environment, quality of life for citizens, and economic vitality. 

“Williamston demonstrates a strong commitment to its sustainability program. They are to be commended for preserving the natural heritage of the area by enhancing wetlands along the Roanoke River and directing development away from critical farmland and into the historic downtown,” said Joanna Nadeau, director of community programs at Audubon. 

Developing riverside camping platforms, signage, and trail maps; purchasing recycled materials; and updating the comprehensive plan with green building and smart growth principles are the top examples why Williamston is considered a leader in sustainability. In the last few years, Williamston has also reduced municipal water use by 50 percent, installed permeable pavement in two parking lots, and increased affordable housing options. Williamston’s accomplishments have been enhanced by funding awards for historic preservation projects including façade improvements in the historic district and heritage publications. 

“To maintain certification, a community must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a majority of areas,” Nadeau said.

Members maintain certification status in the Sustainable Communities Program by demonstrating continuous progress towards goals in the plan under fifteen focus areas. Communities go through a recertification process every two years. Currently, there are 20 communities in the Sustainable Communities Program. Bald Head Island is the only other North Carolina town working toward certification. 

Cities celebrate completion of Concord/ Kannapolis- Albemarle water transmission line 

The cities of Concord, Kannapolis, and Albemarle celebrated the recent completion of their jointly funded water transmission, which provides a new water source for Cabarrus County into the future. The ceremony was the culmination of a regional partnership developed among the cities over the last 16 years. 

City elected officials, management, and utilities staff from each community gathered at the Mount Pleasant pump station site Thursday afternoon to “Turn the Valve,” marking the opening of the line at the approximate mid-way point. State and federal elected officials and staff members were also at the celebration. 

“Today is a historic day for our region,” said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. “This day has been 16 years in the making and will benefit all of our communities for decades to come. Working through the challenges associated with this process has brought great unity for our local governments and our communities.” 

In the fall of 1998, Concord was experiencing the first stages of a major drought that brought to light the discrepancy between available local water supply and the ability to meet the future demands associated with existing and planned development. The City of Concord began working with the City of Albemarle on the issue of securing a future water supply in 1999. The City of Kannapolis joined the effort after a master plan study determined there was a supply issue for all jurisdictions in Cabarrus County. A major milestone to the solution occurred when the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission (EMC) approved the Concord and Kannapolis IBT Certificate in January 2007. 

“We are fortunate to have three municipalities – three groups of elected officials – three groups of staff – who in a time of drought and economic uncertainty pulled together to do what is right in order to ensure that our cities would have a longterm source of clean safe drinking water,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. 

The completed project with Albemarle will ultimately supply 10 million gallons per day of treated water into Cabarrus County from the Yadkin-Pee Dee basin, which is less reactive to or impacted by drought conditions than existing Cabarrus sources. The project also benefits the City of Albemarle, which has excess water supply and capacity after changes in its local economy. 

“The City of Albemarle is very pleased to be working with Concord and Kannapolis,” added Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael. “As a result of the flow of water in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River and the excess capacity of our water treatment plants, we are able to provide a reliable source of water to meet the needs of our partner cities. The additional revenue is a tremendous benefit for Albemarle and our water customers that will allow for needed improvements and enhancements to our system. This level of interlocal cooperation can serve as a model for successful regional partnerships in North Carolina.” 

The total project included three pump stations, a one million-gallon storage tank, and 19.6 miles of 30-inch and 24-inch ductile iron water pipe, at a cost of $28 million. Construction took 24 months to complete. Albemarle funded 25 percent of the project, and the remaining cost was split evenly by Concord and Kannapolis.