Pinehurst: A second shakedown of builders by village staff?

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Pinehurst is a great place. Lots of beautiful scenery.  Lots of really nice people.  The local government bureaucracy is another story.

We’ve posted before on village staff demanding questionable payments from builders seeking to develop property within the village limits.  Now, it appears there has been another questionable move by village staff relating to builders:

Questions raised during a new subdivision’s application process have led to one change in fees the village charges developers and could lead to a more substantial revision.

The Village Council decided Monday to remove a fee charged to developments for the inspection of water and sewer lines.

The developers of Walker Station, a subdivision in the 2000 block of Midland Road that will have 46 cottage-style houses and 24 town houses, had questioned the fee, Village Manager Andy Wilkison said.

The village’s fee for Walker Station would have been about $15,000, Assistant Village Manager Jeff Batton said.

Batton told council members the inspection fee was for a duplicate service because workers from Moore County, which owns the water and sewer systems, inspect the lines.

Batton said that until a few years ago, the county did not have significant rules regarding water and sewer lines. The county’s rules have been upgraded and now are similar to the village standards, he said.

County officials also have a vested interest in inspecting the lines, Batton said.

“Ultimately, it belongs to the county,” he said. “They have a vested interest in making sure it’s properly installed.”

Village and county inspectors often go together to look at installed lines, he said.

“It’s a redundant process,” Mayor Nancy Roy Fiorillo said.[…]

So, we’ve been charging builders for something the county already hits them for? Wow.  *SMH*.

In 2011, the current majority on the village council was elected on the basis of a number of promises — including a shakeup of village government staff.  

Village leaders have been frustrated with the lack of commercial development / economic growth in downtown and surrounding areas.  Builders and developers with experience in Moore County will tell you that Pinehurst village government has historically gummed up the development process with red tape that makes the whole thing too frustrating and too costly. A number of businesses have snubbed historic downtown Pinehurst for the adjacent jurisdictions of Southern Pines, Aberdeen, or Taylortown. 

Excesses like these demands for payment have come about as a result of years of geriatrics being elected to the village council and delegating way too much leadership responsibility to village government professional staff.  Times have changed.  Younger people have been elected to the council — some still working or recently retired — resulting in heightened scrutiny of the actions of the village bureaucracy.

Leaders are looking at the upcoming US Opens as marketing, PR and economic development opportunities.  A great idea to ensure a positive conclusion to those efforts is to weed out unpleasantness from village regulations / SOP — like these two shakedowns — and instill a new attitude of transparency, customer service, and helpfulness within the village bureaucracy.