Council adopts “master plan” for city projects

Orange-Breckenridge, Zene Street, and Embassy Square projects combined to receive funds

Planning & Community Development Director Erris Dunston told members of the Henderson City Council during its regular Monday evening meeting that the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing first published the Orange-Breckenridge plan of redevelopment in 2006, but there were no funds to implement the plan at that time.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Housing was commissioned by the Henderson City Council under the leadership of then-mayor Clem Seifert.

According to Dunston, the city received $250,000 by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly to purchase property in order to redevelop the area, which also includes Ransom Street. A contract was created between the city, the Friends of Clean-Up Henderson (FOCUH), and the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (Kerr-Tar COG) to enact the purchases.

Dunston said that the FOCUH did not respond, and therefore the Redevelopment Commission assumed its role.

The city director told members that it had been suggested that the Orange-Breckenridge, Zene Street, and Embassy projects be combined to receive funds, a suggesting that was passed by the Redevelopment Commission.

“We have proceeded in that manner,” Dunston said.

Here is a historical timeline of the Redevelopment Commission and its activities provided by the City of Henderson.

Dunston said that the project is now ready to make a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application.

The planning director stressed several times during her presentation that the plan has not changed since it was developed in 2006.

After Dunston’s remarks, Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary opened the public hearing on the plan and asked for remarks from those in favor of adopting the “master plan”.

First to speak was Ruxton Bobbitt, the chair of the Redevelopment Commission. He noted that there are currently nine residents in the Orange-Breckenridge redevelopment area, one private homeowner and eight renters. He said that their relocation would have to be provided for.

Bobbitt also said that the city already owns four or five lots in the area, and that two houses in the zone are boarded up.

21 parcels are encompassed by the plan.

Council member Mike Rainey asked if $250,000 would be enough to acquire the necessary property.

“No, it’s a start,” Bobbitt replied. “We’ll go as far as we can.”

Former Henderson Mayor Chick Young, also a member of the Redevelopment Commission, told council members that all the rules and regulations of North Carolina are being followed, and that the commission is getting “excellent” legal advice from City Attorney John Zollicoffer.

Redevelopment Commission member Juanita Somerville said that the plan was important to let people know that things can move forward “in such difficult times”.

No one chose to speak against the resolution to adopt the “master plan” when O’Geary called for anyone who wished to do so.

The resolution passed unanimously.