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Sewage Standstill: Permit Freeze Paralyzing North Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Real Estate Market

The indefinite permit freeze for new subdivisions in North Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties is causing a major stir among developers, homebuyers, and real estate agents in the greater Charlotte region.


Capacity Crisis: Sewage Treatment Plants Reach Their Limit

The issue at hand? Wastewater treatment facilities have reached their maximum capacity, forcing a halt in development as no more wastewater can be accepted by the plants that serve these areas.


The Domino Effect: How the Sewage Standstill Impacts the Real Estate Market

This ongoing permit freeze has wide-reaching implications for the entire real estate market in the greater Charlotte region. With no end in sight, developers are left in the dark, unable to move forward with their projects. As construction comes to a standstill, the supply of new housing is severely restricted, resulting in even higher home prices and increased demand for existing properties.



However, it's important to note that permits approved before the freeze will be allowed to continue, and this freeze does not impact the construction of stand-alone single-family homes. The freeze is specifically targeting new subdivisions, leaving developers unable to obtain approval for new permits in these areas.


Answers in Short Supply: Questions Left Unanswered

Despite the urgency of the situation, answers from the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County (WSACC) and Charlotte Water have been hard to come by. Developers are left wondering how long they will be left in limbo, and with no clear communication, frustration is mounting. There are unconfirmed reports in the "Charlotte Real Estate Investors" Facebook group that the freeze will be in effect for years.


The Waiting Game: No End in Sight for Permit Freeze

There is currently no end date for this permit freeze. Home buyers in search of new construction can expect to pay a premium for upcoming new construction communities that were able to get their plans approved before the permit freeze went into effect. Conversely, sellers of large tracts of undeveloped land may find it difficult to sell their property until this freeze is lifted.



Short and Long-Term Actions: A Glimpse of Hope?

Charlotte Water is taking several short, mid, and long-term actions to address the capacity issue. They have received approval for a reduced flow factor from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and are conducting a Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey to identify defects and opportunities for improvement. A new pump station and force main are under construction, with completion expected in early to mid-2024. In the long run, Charlotte Water has requested additional capacity from WSACC, with a planned increase from 6 MGD to 9 MGD after the completion of two phases of a treatment plant expansion.


In the meantime, developers are being advised to consider alternative wastewater treatment options, such as "package plants" or community-sized septic systems, for their subdivisions. While these options may not be ideal, they provide a temporary solution until Charlotte Water can offer increased capacity.


Despite these ongoing efforts, the timeline remains uncertain, and developers, homebuyers, and real estate agents are left to navigate an increasingly challenging market. With no definitive end to the permit freeze, the greater Charlotte region's real estate market faces a period of unprecedented upheaval.


What do you think this means for the North Charlotte Real Estate Market? Drop a comment below or discuss with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!

References

Harrison, Steve. "Charlotte's North Suburbs are Running out of Sewer Capacity, and the Problem Could Last for Years." The Charlotte Observer, 19 February 2023.

Rodriguez, Ely Portillo and Lauren Lindstrom. "As Sewage Plants Fill Up, a Permit Freeze Puts North Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Development on Hold." The Charlotte Observer, 20 February 2023.

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