by Carrie C. Causey
YOUNGSVILLE — It’s the difference of being Rolesville or staying as Youngsville, resident and business owner Twig Wiggins told the Youngsville board of the need for downtown revitalization and new business.
June 13, the board agreed to help a proposed business apply for a Rural Center Reuse Grant, though Town Manager Bill Tatum wants to ensure the town won’t be held to any unexpected expenses.
Matthew Winslow and Tim Gray, working under the name Boondocks Boys, LLC, hope to turn 201 E. Main St. into the new home of Winslow Custom Homes and Frigi Temp Temperature Solutions. The Boondocks Building, built in 1915, will be renovated to offer 15 offices, bathrooms and storage.
In order to even apply for the state grant, the pair needed the board’s support with a resolution. Not only does the grant help fund improvements to old buildings, it hinges on job creation, offering $5,000 for each new position.
Boondocks Boys plan to have 24 jobs created during the process, making them eligible for $120,000 in grant funding. The town would have to pay a 5 percent match of $6,000, if they are accepted, but it can be given through incentives like tax cuts. The value of the whole project, including the purchase price, renovations and other expenses planned totals more than $400,000.
Tatum’s bone of contention is a requirement that funds have to be returned if the jobs don’t come to fruition or the requirements aren’t met. It’s the town’s responsibility to go after the money. The stipulation by the Rural Center says the town has to prove they have done everything up to, and including, litigation to get the refund. Tatum said the town wasn’t prepared to do that and worried staff needed more time to research and learn more about the process.
But there wasn’t much time for deliberation as the application process is time-sensitive — the deadline is Friday. The pair said they needed an answer that night, adding if they had to postpone their application, they would have to delay all of the work.
Commissioner Cat Redd, who leads a revitalization committee, said the repairs and new business are essential. The risk was not fear for the town, but rather the risk of not having the renovation done, she said.
The board agreed to sign the resolution so they could move forward on the grant process, but said they should have the ability to withdraw the application.
•Litigation threat: An area Sweepstakes owner is threatening to sue the town and shut down his business in response to Youngsville raising its special-use permit costs for Internet cafes last fall.
Rick Earnhardt representing the Youngsville Business Center complained the Sweepstakes fees for the business had gone from $250 to $29,250.
“My concern is why the fees are so high and why there was an increase of more than 10,000 percent,” he told the board.
Hardwick said the fee increase had been approved last fall through proper measures, including holding public hearings after they checked the legality of spiking the costs.
Earnhardt claimed it isn’t legal, citing a case in Lumberton where the N.C. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. He threatened to take his own legal action and said he already had a lawyer.
Attorney Joe Olivieri said there were issues because Sweepstakes businesses are already an ongoing debate in legislature with their own constitutionality in question. The Lumberton case also had different circumstances.
Hardwick added they chose fee amounts that are in the middle of what other towns are charging. The town’s rate is $500 per location, $1,000 per machine up to 25 machines and $250 over 25. The discount for machines over 25 wasn’t offered when the price hike was first proposed, but was offered when another business owner complained during the public hearing.
Youngsville Business Center will be forced to close the doors if they can’t pay the six employees to work there in order to pay the fees, Earnhardt said.
“That’s the whole budget. You just want us out — that’s how we feel,” he said.
•Budget passed: With no discussions and no work sessions other than committee meetings, the town passed the budget unanimously. It includes no tax increases.
•Getting N*Focus: The board approved a six-month contract, costing the town $14,000, with N*Focus, a company which does contracted zoning and planning work for municipalities. The business recently hosted a training session for the board on procedures for quasi-judicial hearings. Tatum said the work they need the company to do needs separate licenses and knowledge, that he doesn’t have.
“If we need it done right, we need it done by professionals,” he said to the agreement of Olivieri.
Among the duties he expects are looking over ordinances.
Though he approved it, Commissioner Marvin Roberts commented, “If we keep farming everything out, they won’t need us.”
•Sold: The board has been trying to find a way to improve the aesthetics of a town-owned storage building and had previously decided it was easier to tear it down. Tatum told the board someone offered to give the town $5,000 for the lot and tear the building down themselves.
How do you Envision Youngsville?
The town of Youngsville is working with graduate students to come up with a plan about the future of downtown and they want residents’ ideas.
An Envision Youngsville meeting will be held Thursday, June 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Community House, 115 E. Main Street. Among those involved are the town board,
Youngsville Area Business Association, Community Advancement Program, among other parties. Topics include suggestions for downtown businesses, solutions for parking and public space, discussion about bicycle and pedestrian accessibility and opinions regarding traffic.
For more information, call town hall, 919-556-5073.