Declining Demand for Building Permits in the Fort Bragg Region

- Numbers are Significantly Lower than the NC Average

At the RLUAC quarterly meeting conducted on May 21st Robert Farrell, Hoke County’s Planning Director, presented some very interesting findings from a study that he recently completed concerning residential building construction trends  within the Fort Bragg Region over the past five years .  His sources of information included Fort Bragg, the US Census Bureau, and data provided by local county departments.  

He found that most of the counties within the region have experienced a significant drop in the number of new homes being constructed since 2010. Yet, the overall number of new housing units state-wide has remained fairly constant over the same time period.  

In trying to determine what might be contributing to the construction decline in the Fort Bragg region, Robert contacted staff at the Fort.  They explained that from a troop strength high of 153,000 soldiers in 2012 and 2013, the number has declined to 149,000 troops in 2014.  They are expected to drop even further this year -- to approximately 146,500 soldiers.  

In addition, Robert discovered that the average price of new homes in the Fort Bragg region has dropped from a little over $155,000 in 2013 to a little higher than $140,000 in 2015.  He observed that during that same period construction labor costs rose from $22.51 per hour in April 2012 to $25.13 in December of 2014.  Also, Robert discovered that the cost of residential building materials rose by 45% over the past decade.  

It is likely that speculation concerning the massive population growth in the Fort Bragg region, which was projected as a result of the 2005 BRAC (and did not actually occur) led to the over-construction of new residential units and has contributed to the current glut of unsold units.

RLUAC - FY 2014-15 Annual Report

Please click here to review the RLUAC FY 2014-15 Annual Progress Report.

Regional Perspective of Water Resource Issues

Speaking at the RLUAC quarterly meeting held on February 19th, Jim Perry, the Special Projects Planner for Lumber River Council of Government, stated that there is an “impending disaster” if steps aren’t taken to improve local water systems in the Fort Bragg region.  Although referring specifically to the condition of many local water treatment plants, he also addressed concerns with the overuse of the groundwater aquifers and quality and availability of surface water as a result of inter-basin transfer proposals by the City of Cary.

The surface water issues that he discussed included the potential threat to the Fort Bragg Region with the proposed inter-basin water transfer from the Cape Fear River Basin to the Neuse River Basin.  He explained that a recently prepared “hydraulic model” for the Cape Fear River showed that the permitted water out-take already exceeds the river’s capacity.  He said that the day is coming soon when limits will have to be placed on municipal, county and industrial outtake.  Concerning inter-basin water transfer, Jim said that there is a NC law that requires local governments to return the treated waste water back into the original river basin from which it was taken.  Efforts to change or amend this law should be opposed.  

The ground water issues emanate from the fact that most water users within the Cape Fear River Basin rely upon ground water – tapping into the aquifers.  He explained that aquifers are not underground rivers, but are layers of water contained between geological layers of different materials.  Within our region there are between four and five layers that are contained between clay.  Our major aquifer waters slowly flow from the northwest to the southeast.  Water contained within the aquifers are thousands of years old and very pure.  When the extraction of water from the aquifers is done to excess “cones of depression” occur (as in the case of Smithfield Farms hog processing plant in Bladen County) leading to the potential for salt water intrusion from the ocean and subsidence of the land.  These issues, compounded by the fact that it takes a very long time for the aquifers to recharge, leads to the real threat that the aquifers in our region can be permanently destroyed.  Proposed fracking in the Lee, Johnson, and Moore County areas up-flow from our region, poses another real potential danger for the aquifers.  Unfortunately, there is no way to decontaminate ground water once it becomes polluted.

Concerning water supply, Jim reported that many of the small town water treatment plants within the region are becoming very dated and are on the verge of collapse. He said that for too long water customers have been paying too little for the water they consume – resulting in little or no revenue reserves to upgrade the existing plants or build new ones.  And, grant money that used to be available from the federal government has largely dried up.  To remedy this situation taxpayers are going to have to foot a major cost – and the bill in coming due very soon.  If not addressed, we will have a major water crisis.  

He completed his remarks by observing that North Carolina is a water rich state.  However, he warned that our water resource can be rapidly depleted if we do not quickly change our wasteful and destructive ways.

Upcoming Events - New Meeting Time!

Quarterly Membership Meeting:
 

August 19, 2021

10:00 am (New Meeting Time)

Spring Lake Family Resource Center - 103 Laketree Blvd, Spring Lake, NC 28390