This section responds to 61 questions asked and issues raised during the community meetings held in February, 2019. If your question is not answered here, please send an e-mail to: HampsteadNCstudy@gmail.com. We will be happy to respond to it. Again, we check our facts and information for accuracy. Please let us know if you find errors, typos or misinformation. We will double-check and correct these asap.
- Q. How did the "Hampstead Area Study" and "Steering Committee" get started? What is their history?
- Share the research findings with the larger Hampstead community;
- Understand current community feelings about incorporation; and,
- Avoid the "emotional controversy" that occurred in 2007,
- Q. What were the original purposes for the Hampstead Area Study?
- To gather information and research what is needed to incorporate a municipality in North Carolina;
- To determine if the Hampstead area met the criteria to become an incorporated municipality;
- To understand the reasons, pro and con / for and against incorporating Hampstead;
- To evaluate whether it is time to re-consider incorporation; and, if warranted,
- To share the findings with the Hampstead community.
- Q. Why did the study CHANGE INTO two (2) OPPOSING efforts?
- Q. What do each of these groups believe?
- The research findings demonstrate that incorporation would benefit the Hampstead
community as well as Pender County.
- Hampstead-focused services, self-responsibility, self-government and self-control of the future growth and development in the Hampstead area should be led by Hampstead residents.
- Hampstead-focused, urban services are needed to improve the safety and quality of life of Hampstead residents and businesses; and, would most efficiently be provided through incorporation.
- It is important to share the Study findings and information about incorporation with the entire community.
- It is time to give Hampstead residents an opportunity to exercise our right to vote and decide for ourselves if a majority want to incorporate.
- See incorporation as just another layer of government.
- Do not want additional taxes.
- Do NOT want a vote / referendum on incorporation.
- Q. Why are the individuals in favor of incorporation seeking a referendum??
- No group - pro or con - should DICTATE how our community should be organized, or governed, or the types and levels of services its citizens should expect or accept.
- In an atmosphere of mutual respect, Hampstead residents should be provided with fact-based information and analyses on the pros and cons of incorporation so they canmake their own informed choice. Hampstead residents should be given the opportunity to vote in an official, state-sanctioned referendum. The decision on incorporation should not be left to unscientific, statistically invalid and unreliable polls, opinions and statements on social media, or the loudest voices at a public meeting.
- Q. What five (5) alternatives to incorporation were considered and why were they rejected?
- Alternative 1: Additional seats on the Pender County Board of Commissioners (BOC)
- The Hampstead/Surf City/Scotts Hill/Topsail Township area holds two (2) of the five (5) seats on the Board of Commissioners. Based on population, this is fair and equitable. No additional seats are warranted nor could they be justified.
- County Commissioners are elected to do what is best for the County as a whole and not necessary what is in the best interest of Hampstead. We do not dispute that this is their primary responsibility nor should they be expected to do what is best for Hampstead to the detriment of the remainder of the County.
Alternative 2: Special districts, as provided by NC State law
- Special districts can be established in NC to provide a service or services such as sewer, water, solid waste, fire, EMS, police protection, etc.
- Their cost and set ups are similar to our EMS and Fire services. They are funded by the Ad Valorem tax/property tax you are now charged. These services are functioning well. There is no intent to duplicate or replace these services.
- EMS - $0.0925 Ad Valorem tax/$100 valuation
- Fire district - $0.095 Ad Valorem tax/ $100 valuation
- The 2017 Pender County tax rate is $0.685 /$100 valuation and covers County schools, Sheriff and County administration.
- Your County tax bill includes all three, a total of $0.8725/$100 valuation.
- Alternative 3: Annexation
- Based on a 2011 state law, an area bordering an existing municipality can request to be annexed by the adjacent municipality. Annexation requires a referendum. Annexation would mean the residents of the area to be annexed will accept the tax rate, rules, regulations, zoning and building codes, etc. of the city that is annexing it. They will receive the services provided by the annexing municipality.
- The only municipality with a border close to the Hampstead area is Surf City. The 2017 tax rate in Surf City is $0.41/$100 valuation - twice what is proposed for a Town of Hampstead. It is unlikely Surf City would want to annex Hampstead because Hampstead's population is significantly larger than that of Surf City.
- Alternative 4: Memorandum of Understanding or Agreement (MOU or MOA) with the County or other political or private sector entity
- Unless incorporated, a MOU or MOA would have no legal standing given there is no legal authority to stand behind it or to sign on behalf of all Hampstead residents.
- Alternative 5: Hampstead Advisory Committee to Pender County Commissioners
- Advisory committees are just that - advisory. An advisory committee has no power to implement its own recommendations. And, there is no guarantee the County would accept or act on an advisory committee's recommendations.
- As an example: During this past year, a several groups of Hampstead residents signed-in and spoke concerning a number of Hampstead issues during the time allotted for this at the beginning of Pender County Board of Commissioners' meetings. While they were treated politely, the Board took no action to address their concerns.
- Q. Why do the individuals in favor of incorporation believe it will benefit the community and is the most efficient approach to improving the quality of life in Hampstead?
- An incorporated Hampstead will NOT duplicate services or government control.
- Hampstead will accept the responsibility for some County services and add services the County cannot provide, based on NC statutes.
- Incorporation will provide self-governance.
- Decisions about future services, growth and development would be determined by Hampstead residents.
- If left un-incorporated these decisions and the level of services provided to Hampstead residents would remain with the Pender County Board of Commissioners whose decisions are, and should be, based on what is best for Pender County, not what is best for Hampstead.
- An incorporated Hampstead would provide its residents with services that an incorporated municipality can, such as street maintenance and street lights in unsafe public areas.
- An incorporated Hampstead would be a recognized political entity, able to speak for Hampstead residents to regional, state and federal agencies, other local governments, private sector service providers and to the Pender County Commission.
- An incorporated Hampstead would have a seat and vote on regional issues as it could become a member of the Wilmington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) and Cape Fear Council of Governments.
- An incorporated Hampstead could enter into legally binding agreements with other public sector agencies and private sector companies to provide new services, or to improve current services and the quality of life for Hampstead residents.
- Hampstead residents would have a government that can speak for Hampstead interests to the County and at Pender County Commissioners' meetings.
- The contrast in problems, needs and goals between Hampstead residents and the remainder of the County, places an unfair burden on Pender County and its rural residents.
- If Hampstead were incorporated, Pender County could reduce some of its staff or avoid adding staff as Hampstead grows.
- Incorporation would bring a Hampstead Police Department with increased, Hampstead-focused police protection.
- If un-incorporated, law enforcement service will remain unchanged unless more deputies are hired. This may require raising taxes county-wide (again - unfair to the County as a whole.)
- The additional deputies may not be assigned to Hampstead.
- Currently only 5 deputies per shift patrol the entire 870 square (sq.) miles of Pender County, an area over half the size of the state of Rhode Island.
- An incorporated Hampstead would be about the 55th largest city out of 553 cities in NC.
- The density in Hampstead is 465 people/sq. mile
- The density in the remainder of Pender County is 51 people/sq. mile
- Over 550 other incorporated municipalities in the state of NC accept the responsibility for their own future, provide their own services, and govern themselves. It's time we do too.
- Q. Who is "behind" the effort to incorporate?
- None are developers.
- None own or have any financial interest in large areas of undeveloped or underdeveloped land.
- None own multiple rental properties.
- Q. How is the effort to incorporate being funded?
- Q. What does it mean to be incorporated in NC?
- Q. In general - How does incorporation happen?
- A petition signed by at least 15% of the registered voters in the area to be incorporated as verified by their county board of elections;
- A proposed charter including:
- a city name; a map of the city (identifying specific properties or other legal description - such as a metes and bounds);
- recommendations as to the form of government and manner of election;
- a statement that the proposed city will have a budget ordinance with an Ad Valorem tax levy of at least five cents (5¢) on the one hundred-dollar ($100.00) valuation upon all taxable property within city limits;
- the names of three qualified persons to serve as the interim governing board until the first election can be held;
- A statement of the estimated population; assessed valuation; degree of development; population density;
- A statement that the proposed municipality will offer four services (of 8 authorized by law) no later than the first day of the third fiscal year following the effective date of the incorporation; and,
- Verification that notice was given to surrounding local governments of the intent to incorporate.
- Q. Where did the petition wording come from?
- Q. What does it mean to sign the Pro-Incorporation Petition?
- Q. Is a referendum always required by the NCGA?
- Q. How long are petition signatures valid?
- Q. What is a municipal charter?
- Designates whether a municipality will be known as a city, a town or a village. There is no legal difference in the designations. It is a matter of the preferences of the residents.
- Designates the form of government. There are two major forms of government in NC and one variation. One form is mayor-council, where there is not a manager. The mayor and the council, acting together, make decisions about services, revenues and expenditures. All personnel come under the board with this form of government. A second form is the council-manager form in which there is no mayor.
- Describes the elected board (called the city, town or village council, board of commissioners or board of aldermen) that will serve as the governing body in the NC municipality. It describes the:
- Number of members on the board;
- The length of their terms;
- Method of election (partisan or non-partisan); and,
- Whether they represent districts or hold at-large seats.
- Q. Where is the DRAFT Hampstead Charter, how was it developed?
- Q. When will the final versions of the Charter and petition attachments be available?
- Q. Why does the Draft Charter suggest five (5) districts and four (4) year terms for council members?
- Q. What is included inside the area to be incorporated? How was this area selected?
- Q. Is incorporation a political issue?
- Q. Does incorporation create another level of government?
- REPLACE the current Pender County government control over Hampstead planning and zoning with local control;
- PROVIDE NEW SERVICES PENDER COUNTY CANNOT, including street maintenance on the private roads turned over to the Town;
- PROVIDE AN INCREASED, HAMPSTEAD-FOCUSED LEVELS OF SERVICE including local police services to Hampstead residents and businesses;
- PROVIDE A VOICE for Hampstead residents on regional issues including the use of state and federal motor fuel taxes available to cities, towns or villages in the region;
- PROVIDE LEGAL AUTHORITY to Hampstead. As a legal entity, an incorporated Hampstead CAN speak for residents and businesses and enter into legal agreements with the County, State and federal governments and private sector service providers.
- Q. What services are proposed for Hampstead? What will I get for my additional city taxes?
- Q. Do we really need all these services? Won't this add more administrative bureaucracy? Are we duplicating services?
- Q. What is the role for a police department?
- Enforcing and supporting laws; Ensuring domestic peace and tranquility;
- Maintaining public order and safety;
- Preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities; and
- Apprehending offenders.
- Q. Is the proposed size and budget for a Hampstead police department adequate?
- Q. What is the authority of the police vs. the sheriff?
- Q. The crime rate in Hampstead is "low." Why do we need a Hampstead police department?
- Q. Isn't it too late to take over planning and zoning? Isn't most of the area already developed?
- Q. Can we just stop all development? How long will it take to get new zoning and development codes in place?
- Q. Who will serve on the planning board, how will it be structured?
- Q. Isn't it expensive to develop a stormwater management plan to minimize erosion and flooding and protect our coastal waters, creeks and wetlands?
- Q. How many miles of state roads and private roads are there inside the proposed Hampstead footprint?
- Q. What is the Powell Bill?
- Q. It costs about $100,000 per mile to pave a dirt road to state standards - how could the Powell Bill funding be enough to cover this?
- Q. Will we take over State maintained roads?
- Q. Does incorporating mean we will lose the use of the solid waste drop off facilities?
- Q. How can we promise an equivalent or better monthly fee for solid waste services? How can we avoid putting small independent solid waste service companies out of business?
- First, if a solid waste collection company is guaranteed an exclusive service area and therefore does not need to market to hundreds of individual property owners and businesses, the company will save money it would have had to spend on marketing.
- Second, if a solid waste company can limit its vehicles' pick-up/service area, it will save on fuel costs and wear and tear on its vehicles.
- This will result in the solid waste company having lower overhead costs and potentially making a bigger profit. The company could pass along some of these savings to customers in the form of lower fees.
- Q. Is cost of private trash/solid waste pick up included in taxes?
- Q. What other services could the Town provide?
- Q. How much will it cost to incorporate?
- Q. How was the draft budget developed?
- Q. Why do we think the 20 cents/ $100 valuation is adequate / realistic?
- Q. What was included in the budget?
- Q. How will costs for a town hall, police station, public works facility be covered?
- Q. What is included in the Public Works budget?
- Q. What is included in the Planning Office budget?
- Q. What will happen to HOA's?
- Q. Don't taxes always go up in cities?
- Q. What will keep the new town council from increasing taxes?
- Q. How will incorporation bring more businesses / attract investors to theHampstead Area?
- Q. What would keep the town council from putting extra taxes on businesses?
- Q. How could incorporation reduce damage to area roads?
- Q. How will hurricane response be handled?
- Q. How will Incorporation help Pender County? How will the County replace any loss of revenue?
- Q. If incorporation occurs - in what TIMEFRAME will things change?
- Q. How can I reduce the impact of paying two (2) years of city taxes into my mortgage escrow at one time?
- Q. What are the long-term impacts of Incorporation?
- Q. Who will benefit from incorporation?
- Q. What happens if incorporation fails?
- Q. Will a community action group form?
Debates and discussions about incorporating Hampstead have been going on for decades. The 1999 attempt at incorporating never got beyond the discussion stage. After heated community debates, the 2007 attempt failed by a large margin at a referendum.
Having heard about incorporation for years, in 2017 several neighbors (Hampstead homeowners and year-round residents) started talking. They had watched as major housing developments were constructed throughout the area. They had watched land developers ripping out many of the trees, re-grading wet areas and removing topsoil. They watched as the population more than doubled and as more young families moved into the Hampstead area. It had been over ten years since the last attempt at incorporation. These the neighbors thought others were also seeing and concerned about this growth and changes. They thought, there might be a "change of heart on incorporation." It may be time to revisit the need and potential benefits for incorporation.
Research began: These neighbors started by reviewing the newly drafted and later adopted Pender 2.0 County Land Use Plan.
(NOTE: In November of 2016, Pender County contracted with the Cape Fear Council of Governments to develop a new County land use plan, called Pender 2.0. This document included data analyses including current, past and projected demographics, land use, and environmental conditions in Pender County. The planning process included seven public meetings held throughout the County and resulted in goals, objectives and the new land use plan for the County. Pender 2.0 was finalized and adopted by the County Commissioners on August 20, 2018.)
Data about coastal Pender County, especially the Hampstead/Topsail Township area, showed its past and projected growth far outpaced the rest of the County. The comments, needs and goals expressed by residents of the Hampstead area attending the Pender 2.0 public meetings indicated that their desired future for growth were not the same as the goals and needs expressed by rural County residents. Based on this and some additional research into what is required to incorporate, an outreach effort was begun.
Outreach to Local Officials and Community Leaders: Informal discussions were held with several local officials, community leaders, a local commercial realtor, members of the local media and individuals who participated in the 2007 efforts. Files, original documents, videos of the 2007 debate and correspondences on the past effort were reviewed. Comments from individuals on both sides of the 2007 effort indicated that the "campaign" surrounding the 2007 referendum was "unpleasant." In 2007, both sides were very passionate about their opinions. Both sides accused the other of putting out false information, misinformation and using "scare tactics." The neighbors were cautioned that those opposing incorporation in 2007 would probably oppose it again.
GIS Map: In December of 2017 the neighbors approached Pender County and requested a GIS map laying out a potential footprint for a Town of Hampstead including the data within the footprint that is required by the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) to submit a petition to incorporate a municipality. The map and data were received in January 2018. One of the neighbors personally paid Pender County for the map and data.
Study Steering Committee: As an approach to:
Hampstead area Homeowners Associations' (HOA) Presidents were called and/or emailed. Efforts were made to contact each HOA. Some did not respond or did not have an official contact person. Phone calls were made and e-mails sent asking them to attend meetings, bring neighbors and representatives to discuss incorporation. These people made up the "Hampstead Area Study Steering Committee."
At the initial meetings, Steering Committee members were asked, "Has there been a change of heart? Is it the right time for the community to revisit incorporation?" Many agreed it was. Meetings were held almost every month from June through December 2018. As meetings progressed, members were asked what details and additional data the community would need in order to make an informed choice about incorporation. Every individual who attended the meetings was welcomed. Most meetings had about 15-20 participants. About 35 different individuals came to at least one meeting. No one was ever asked if they were for or against incorporation. The meetings were about research and exchanging information.
Community Meetings: In December 2018, Steering Committee members were asked, "Is it time to present this information to the broader Hampstead Community?" The majority said, "yes." Following the December meeting, several members of the Steering Committee donated their time and prepared a PowerPoint presentation, a website, handouts, business cards and got a P.O. Box. They located facilities for community meetings, advertised and hosted the events.
Prior to the first community meeting several individuals opposing incorporation identified themselves. They included individuals who were members of the Steering Committee and individuals who opposed incorporation in 2007. These individuals were offered time on the agenda at the community meetings. They initially declined. At the first meeting, they asked for 15 minutes and were given this time.
Members of the "Steering Committee" reviewed the facts and came away with two different opinions.
Different people can review the same facts and information and, based on different value
systems, goals, life style choices, needs, resources, and self-interests, reach different
Different people can review the same facts and information and, based on different value
systems, goals, life style choices, needs, resources, and self-interests, reach different
(Yes, this happens.)
Those IN FAVOR OF INCORPORATION BELIEVE:
Those OPPOSED TO INCORPORATION, as they explained it to us:
(We do not speak for them. We suggest you check with them.)
The fundamental answer is that we live in a democracy:
The pro-referendum, pro-incorporation sub-group includes "Steering Committee" members and other individuals and businesses who are residential property owners, living year-round in Hampstead.
Many pro-incorporation residents are your neighbors who have chosen not to identify themselves publicly.
As of February 2019, two people on the Steering Committee donated $100 each. This was used to buy to inexpensive business cards, get a P.O. Box and make a donation to the Hampstead American Legion Post for use of their facility. One individual paid Pender County GIS services directly for developing the map and providing the data for the area within the proposed footprint. Various Steering Committee members donated the use of their personal equipment for the presentations. Steering Committee members with home printers donated paper and printed the flyers and other materials. A Steering Committee member paid for the website name. A family member of a Steering Committee member developed for free the website and cover its $15 annual fee. Time researching, writing, organizing meetings and cleaning up after meetings was donated.
We welcome donations of materials, services and your time. We do not have an LLC or non-profit corporation. We are not a business and no one is making money out of the effort to incorporate. If you are able or willing to help, please send us an email at:
Municipalities are established to protect the citizens and provide residents of a particular area with urban type services. In North Carolina, cities, towns and villages are incorporated municipalities. This means that the North Carolina General Assembly has granted a charter authorizing the establishment of a municipal corporation (government) and outlining the powers, authority and responsibilities of the municipal government. Some of these are specified in the municipal charter and some are authorized by state statutes.
In North Carolina (NC) there are 552 municipalities and 100 counties. These are general-purpose local governments. The individual city or town determines which services it will provide, based on local circumstances. A few services are mandated by state or federal law.
In NC municipalities and counties do not have home rule. NC is a partial "Dillion's Rule" state. This means that the state legislature must grant the powers and authorize them to perform certain functions. This is different from a total "Home Rule" state where local governments can choose what powers and services they provide.
In addition to incorporated municipalities, there are some special districts providing particular services such as water and sewer services. Throughout the state, there are many unincorporated areas or communities. Unincorporated areas are not towns, cities or villages. Unincorporated areas have no powers, no authority or responsibilities to their property owners or residents.
Only the NC General Assembly (NCGA) can create a city, town or village. In general, to request incorporation a community must present to the NCGA Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations:
The NCGA Committee reviews the submission including the proposed charter and budget to determine if it meets all the requirements of state statutes and is realistic, (i.e., the proposed budget will reasonably cover the costs for the proposed services.) After the NCGA Committee requested corrections are made, the petition may move on to the NCGA under the sponsorship of the local state NCGA elected officials representing the area be incorporated. For Hampstead, they are Representative Carson Smith and Senator William Rabon. Signing the petition gets the issue in front of our local NC state legislators and potentially the NCGA. The NCGA makes the decision whether the community may hold a referendum. Only the NCGA has the authority to incorporate a city, town or village. Only the NCGA has the authority to direct the Pender County BOE to hold a referendum on incorporation.
Pender County has no role in the decision to hold a referendum or to incorporate Hampstead.
The wording on the petition was provided by the NC and Pender County Boards of Elections (BOEs). It is their wording - we did not choose this wording.
If you sign the petition in favor of incorporation - it means you favor incorporation.
At this time, signing the petition is primarily intended to get approval for a referendum.
YOUR VOTE - NOT YOUR SIGNATURE - IS WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.(Note: A copy of the petition can be downloaded from this website. Go to the Petition page and follow the instructions on how to sign it and where to mail it.)
Based on NC state statutes, the NCGA does not require a referendum. The NCGA is not bound by population density, development, or tax base. If the area to be incorporated is within 1 to 5 miles of an existing city, NCGA approval requires a larger than normal majority (3/5ths) vote.
While it is the NCGA's call, unless there is a petition signed by more than fifty percent (50%) of the registered voters in an area (this would be over 6,000 registered voters in Hampstead), the NCGA typically calls for a referendum. State and federal voting regs apply, GS Chapter 163 Article 22A.
There is no statute of limitations (i.e., time limit, expiration date) on signatures. When they are submitted to the County Board of Elections (BOE) for certification, the BOE determines if each signature is of a currently registered voter and therefore valid.
A municipal charter:
A Draft Charter is posted on this website. The Draft was developed based on review of about 150 NC city charters together with advice from UNC Chapel Hill School of Government publications.
Only one substantive edit to the Charter has been made since it was originally posted. The change is in the amount by which Hampstead elected officials can raise Ad Valorem city taxes. This was reduced to no more than $0.01 per/$100 assessed property valuation per year without a referendum. Also, a section numbering typo was fixed.
The Charter, proposed budget and other attachments are currently drafts. The NC General Assembly Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations reviews the petition including the Draft Charter, the budget and other attachments. It may ask for revisions or corrections to meet the letter of the law. Because documents may need to be revised and resubmitted, we cannot promise the current version is the exact final version. Each should be close. When all corrections are made, the Charter and 14 other related reports and petition attachments will be finalized. If incorporation moves forward to a referendum, these documents will be available and posted to this website 60 days prior to a vote.
Based on the geographic size and population of the proposed Town of Hampstead, five (5) is the number of elected officials typically recommended. Having districts helps to ensure that not all elected officials are from one location within the Town.
Four (4) year staggered terms allow for an alternating two or three members to be voted on in each election cycle, providing at least two experienced members to remain on the council.
The draft map shows the area proposed to be incorporated. It includes what locals commonly refer to as Hampstead. It does not include all the area in the 28443-zip code because that includes parts of Surf City.
It does NOT include Holly Shelter Game Preserve. Boundaries follow property ownership lines.
By law the area to be incorporated must include all land within the proposed boundaries. There cannot be gaps or holes of unincorporated areas within the incorporated area.
Prior to developing the map and proposed footprint, a group of homeowners at one potential boundary requested they not be included, so that area is not in the proposed footprint. In February, one property owner at another border asked to be included, and he will be. These requests are being respected, so the final boundary/footprint may shift a little.
NO, incorporation is not and should not be a political issue. It is not about a community being "right or left" leaning. It is about democracy and self-governance.
According to the NC BOE there are an estimated 12,880 registered voters inside the draft footprint to be incorporated as Hampstead. Of that figure, 15% is about 1,950 signatures needed for a petition to be submitted.
As of August, 2018, Pender County BOE stated the entire County has:
Yes, if incorporated, the Town of Hampstead will:
The Draft Charter recommends a locally elected mayor and council form of government. The elected officials will be your neighbors - residents from Hampstead whose primary concern and focus will be on what is best for Hampstead. If you do not agree with how they are governing, you will vote them out of office.
The selected and recommended services include a local police department, a local planning and zoning department, a street maintenance department to handle some local/now private roadways, a household trash pick-up service, and street lights in public locations that "warrant" these for safety reasons.
No services will be duplicated. The new Town of Hampstead will either replace services with Hampstead-focused services that will be more cost effective for residents or add new services not provided by Pender County. Based on NC law, cities and towns in NC can provide some services that a county CANNOT.
The basic purposes of policing are:
The role of the police is more than just to respond to crime. Law enforcement performs a vital role in crime deterrence.
The proposed size, salaries and budget ($1.9 million) for a Hampstead police department is comparable to other local area police departments. The initial proposed Hampstead police department would include 12 staff including a chief, administrative staff, officers and patrol personnel.
The initial Hampstead Police department is envisioned as having two daytime shifts and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pender County Sheriff to cover the overnight shift. Prior to settling on this size department, discussions were held with the research staff of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and several high-ranking officers in several county sheriff's departments. All agreed to assist in planning when the time comes. Advice and coordination with the Pender County Sheriff's office and neighboring police departments will be an important part of the discussions on how best to organize the Hampstead Police Department.
The County Sheriff retains policing authority throughout the County. County Sheriff deputies typically do not patrol inside a city with its own police department unless there is an agreement to do so. Sheriff Deputies will respond when called or will patrol based on formal agreements or MOUs with the Town.
A Town police department will use the County jail and court facilities, investigators and other services of the Pender County Sheriff. Our County taxes pay for the County Sheriff's department and we will continue to receive their services.
The definition of a "low" crime rate is subjective. Currently, Hampstead's crime rate cannot be quantified because of the manner that crime statistics are collected and reported in Pender County.
There is crime in Hampstead. This is evident by reports in the local media (e.g. Hampstead Pharmacy on US 17 being burglarized several times) and the weekly "Pender County Arrest" reports in the Pender Post and Voice newspaper. Sadly, Hampstead residents are among the perpetrators and victims. There was even an occurrence of human trafficking out of Topsail High School. The FBI handled it. A group was formed at the High School to educate young people about this issue. In 2018 this group won a top regional award for their program and efforts. As the area continues to grow crime will also grow.
A Hampstead police department would boost NC State Highway Patrol TRAFFIC and SPEED enforcement on US 17 and other local roadways.
A Hampstead Police department would reduce the Sheriff's office call volume. Hampstead Police officers would have the time and duty to patrol local Hampstead streets, residences and businesses. In an event like a hurricane when many residents must leave the area, local police will remain and monitor local homes and business to deter or respond to vandalism.
A Hampstead Police Department's officers will be very familiar with streets and local businesses, always be in the area and have quick response times for critical calls.
Planning and Zoning
According to the GIS data provided, only 46% of the land inside the "footprint" of the proposed incorporated Town of Hampstead is already developed. That leaves 54% undeveloped.
NOTE: Holly Shelter Game Preserve is NOT inside the proposed Town boundaries and not counted as part of the 54%.
While some of undeveloped lands are wetlands and should not be developed, there are hundreds of acres of properties that may be appropriate for homes, businesses and small industrial uses.
There is no intent to stop development. And, based on state law, we cannot put a moratorium on development. We can put a short, reasonable delay on a specific sites to research and determine if adequate service levels are available for development at that site.
It typically takes about a year to get new zoning and development codes and ordinances in place. This would be a priority upon passing a referendum.
State law provides guidance on planning boards and boards of adjustments. Members of these boards will be residents of the Town of Hampstead, serve as unpaid volunteers, and provide advice to the Mayor and Town Council.
Long term, it is more expensive not to do this. Improving drainage in the area and designing new developments to avoid flooding will improve property values, safety and avoid costs of remediation and repairs.
There are 67 miles of state roads and 103 miles of private roads inside the proposed footprint.
The Powell Bill provides a share of your state and federal motor fuel taxes back to NC cities, towns and villages who own roads and apply for these funds. To be eligible for funding roadways must be surveyed to verify they meet Powell Bill standards. These standards include including being at least sixteen (16) feet wide and open to the public. They may be dirt, gravel or paved.
Powell Bill funds are not available to counties. The amount is determined annually by the NCDOT. It is based on a formula that includes miles of roadways and population within a municipality. Funds may be used for maintenance, repair, resurfacing, paving, staff and equipment, or to pay a private contractor.
Not all roads need or should be paved. Gravel roads make sense in some areas. Not all roads need to be paved or resurfaced immediately. The Powell Bill permits a city to present a plan to "carry-over" funding from year to year to allow for large projects. It will take years to bring all the roads up to a good condition.
Logically, a town transportation plan would be developed to prioritize projects and the best uses for the Powell Bill funding. For example, roads with more houses or businesses would be prioritized for improvements ahead of roads with fewer houses. Driveways are not considered roads.
There is no plan or intent to take over NCDOT State maintained roads. The NCDOT will continue to maintain state roads within Hampstead.
All currently incorporated municipalities in Pender County (e.g., Burgaw, Surf City, Atkinson, etc.) provide solid waste services and therefore are not billed for this service on their County tax bill. Use of County drop off facilities by individuals or businesses in incorporated areas pay a per ton fee. Also, even residents and businesses with a County permit/sticker, must pay a per ton fee if a load is over a set weight limit.
If Hampstead incorporates and provides solid waste services and you want to use the County drop off facilities you will need to pay a fee. This fee will depend on what can be negotiated between the County and the Town of Hampstead.
It is important to understand that whether it is a county, a city or private business managing a solid waste / garbage service / transfer station or landfill, these facilities are and should be run like a business. Pender County and the Town of Hampstead will use good business management practices to negotiate a reasonable relationship and rate for residents who wish to continue use County facilities.
The "service" the Town is providing is in negotiating for better rates and reducing the amount of truck traffic on local roadways. This is based on the principal of "Economies of Scale."
Private sector garbage / solid waste services are run for profit
There is no need to limit the entire Town to contracting with one single waste hauler. It is not our intent to put any Hampstead-based company out of business. Hampstead has a large enough population and geographic area for several haulers to serve different sections of the town.
No, it will continue as it now is, billed by the provider and paid for by individual households and businesses.
People have asked for free city-wide WIFI - at this time there is no intent to provide this.
People have asked about providing water and or sewer service or a changing the water provider for an area. At this time these services are provided by other vendors and are not being considered for a city-based service. You will keep your existing water and sewer service and provider. However, a town could assist residents in negotiating issues with the private sector providers in the Hampstead area.
Based on the Pender County 2017 assessed values in the Hampstead area, an Ad Valorem tax of 20¢ per $100 property valuation would be needed. For a homeowner whose house is assessed around $200,000, the city tax would be about $400/year, or $1.10 a day.
One of the major responsibilities for every municipal governing board is to adopt the annual municipal budget. By law, all NC city and town budgets must be balanced. There is a state agency that provides oversight over municipal finances.
No two NC cities are exactly alike in population or assessed property values. Not all municipalities provide the same types and levels of services. Comparing municipal budgets is not like comparing “apples to apples.” We cannot just take the tax rate for all municipalities in NC, calculate an average and assume this is what the tax should be for Hampstead.
Estimating the draft budget and tax rate for the Town of Hampstead included reviewing in detail, over 20 municipal budgets for cities and towns with similar populations, geographic areas, and providing similar services as those proposed for Hampstead.
Budget estimates were developed for each service and city administration based on the types and levels of services to be provided.
The level of Ad Valorem taxes needed was based on the 2017 assessed valuation of the properties inside the proposed town and estimates of additional potential revenues such as local option sales taxes and Powell Bill funding. Most comparable cities in NC seem to receive half or less than half their revenues from Ad Valorem/property taxes. To be conservative, the proposed budget revenues are primarily based on what the Ad Valorem taxes will generate inside the boundaries of the Town of Hampstead. In reality, an additional estimated $1 million or more in sales taxes annually would come to an incorporated Town of Hampstead.
The estimated Ad Valorem tax needed was estimated as $0.20 per hundred dollar assessed property value. (Note: The assessed property tax value is not the same as the listed or sales price.)
We "low-balled" estimated tax revenues. We looked around and saw all the new development going in and realized that by the time incorporation occurs, there will be even more businesses, houses and apartments generating more tax revenues. We are aware that the County is re- appraising all properties. This may result in a higher assessed value for the area.
Also, as part of the petition review process, the NC General Assembly Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations reviews the draft budget submitted to determine if it is realistic and reasonable. If the draft budget is truly unrealistic, the NCGA Joint Legislative Commission will identify it and may refuse to accept the petition to incorporate.
The budget includes salaries, overhead, benefits (disability, insurance, taxes, pension), equipment, training, building rent and maintenance, vehicles, desks, computers, software, phones, etc. for a Town staff of 32 by years three (3) through five (5).
The proposed budget includes funding for rental space and maintenance. Long-term, public buildings (e.g., town halls, police stations, public works facilities) are built and paid for through a bond or "mortgage" type arrangement. The money budgeted for rental costs would be used to pay a "mortgage" over time.
The Public Works department would include the staffing/management of solid waste and street lights services; equipment and maintenance staffing for parks, sidewalk, and streets.
The Planning Department would include planning staff, a building code inspector(s)/officer(s), as well as staff to promote economic development. The Planning Board and Board of Adjustments would be comprised of volunteers with small training and travel budgets.
By state law a town, village or city must enforce building codes. Many cities use building permit fees to cover the salary of inspectors and costs for inspections.
HOAs and HOA covenants run with the property and would continue until and unless their by-laws allow for homeowners to vote to have them changed or removed. Their enforcement remains a HOA responsibility. In cases where a HOA owns and is responsible for private roads and dues cover road maintenance, the HOA can vote to turn-over their private roads and maintenance to the Town. This could reduce HOA dues.
Research on eighteen (18) years (2000-2018) of tax rates for sixteen (16) municipalities in Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties showed that during this time period eleven (11) cities reduced their tax rate and five (5) raised their taxes. According to verbal comments from faculty at UNC Chapel Hill School of Government, most cities in NC maintain a fairly stable tax rate.
The Draft Town Charter restricts an increase in Ad Valorem/property taxes to no more than $0.01/$100 valuation per year without a referendum.
Federal and NC state laws restrict what, how, and how much a municipality can tax. For example, a city may not put a tax on gasoline sold within its boundaries.
There are ways to add taxes that do not impact local residents. For example, some cities add a hotel/motel room tax or tax on rental cars (assuming a car rental company locates in Hampstead.) Such taxes do not burden residents.
There are ways a town can add fees and taxes, and many do. Such a proposal would need to be publicized and residents would be made aware before added taxes or fees are enacted. As voters, you are responsible for voting the mayor and town council members out of office should you object to how they are running the Town.
Businesses locate in areas where there is good infrastructure, a trained and educated work force, access to good transportation, good schools, attractive neighborhoods and business areas, good housing for their families, effective and responsive law enforcement, reasonable taxes, and a local government that is fair, honest and easy to work with. Hampstead offers most of these attributes and could offer all if incorporated. The proposed budget includes funding for staff focused on marketing Hampstead and attracting business and light industry to the area ---- not just more houses. Local control over zoning and land use would identify proper locations for varies types of land uses.
If the Town of Hampstead wants to attract new businesses, it would not be in the Town's best interest to impose new businesses taxes. Businesses look at tax rates as one of the many factors they consider in selecting a location. See question 51.
Because of their weight and depending on their number of axles and axle distance, a single truck driving on a roadway can cause 200 or more times the damage of a single car. For this reason, many cities designate specific truck routes. One example of how incorporation will reduce truck damage to roadways is through the coordination of solid waste services and limiting the number of garbage trucks on each individual roadway.
FEMA will deal with the Town of Hampstead as well as the County and State.
Hampstead residents and businesses will continue to pay, and Pender County will continue to receive, its Ad Valorem property tax revenues. As Hampstead continues to grow, more houses and businesses will provide additional taxes to the County as well as to the Town.
An incorporated Hampstead will relieve Pender County from the obligation to handle Hampstead-specific planning, zoning, permitting and code enforcement. This should allow the County to reduce its staff. The demand for additional sheriff deputies will be reduced since the Town of Hampstead will provide its own police officers who will supplement and coordinate with the Sheriff.
One foreseeable loss in revenues to the County will come from their need to share the Intergovernmental State Sales Taxes, Beer and Wine tax revenues and other similar revenues that make up a small portion of the County's budget.
Having a Hampstead representative on the Wilmington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) will help Pender County by adding a second voice and vote to support transportation needs in Pender County. Having a relatively large local government would elevate the County's presence at the NC State government level as a second voice supporting what is best for Pender County and the Cape Fear region.
A municipality is eligible for state and federal funding that a county cannot receive. These funds will bring additional revenues to Hampstead that are not available without incorporation.
Taxes: Ad Valorem taxes are billed and paid a year in arrears. Residents will have a year after the referendum passes before their town taxes are due.
This also means it will take a year for the Town to receive tax revenues to operate. Some towns take out loans based on anticipated revenues or ask homeowners to volunteer to pay early. This will need to comply with what is permitted by NC laws.
This also means it will take a year for the Town to receive tax revenues to operate. Some towns take out loans based on anticipated revenues or ask homeowners to volunteer to pay early. This will need to comply with what is permitted by NC laws.
Interim Government: After the referendum passes, the three qualified individuals designated in the Charter as the interim governing body will begin to establish the municipality. Organizations and governments including but not limited to the NC League of Municipalities, International Association of Chiefs of Police, International City Management Association, Pender County, Cape Fear Council of Governments, other professional associations, and neighboring municipalities will be contacted for advice on how best to move ahead. Setting up the incorporated Town will include locating temporary space for the Town government to operate, setting up phone, internet, mail services and organizing and working with other levels of government. The interim governing body will begin negotiating with neighboring governments and private sector businesses to establish and provide services. It may begin by hiring a Town Manager if required, a Town Clerk, attorney and a few administrative staff. The governing body will call for and help monitor the first election.
First Vote for Elected Officials: A call for candidates and an election for Town officials will be held during the next election cycle.
Three Years or Revocation: The NCGA gives a newly incorporated municipality to the beginning of Fiscal year three (3) years after incorporation to provide four (4) services. If the Town is unsuccessful, the Charter is revoked.
Many mortgage companies require an escrow amount equal to a year's taxes. If a new town is formed and a new tax required, a mortgage company may require an entire one year of taxes paid in full immediately. This could create a tax burden on some Hampstead residents. As explained above, taxes are paid a year in arrears. One option is to negotiate with your mortgage broker to allow the additional escrow to be paid in installments over a year rather than all at once.
Ideally, property values will go up and an improved quality of life will result from incorporation. New businesses will be attracted to the area, existing businesses will grow, yet Hampstead will have the opportunity to retain some small-town charm rather than be forced to accept uncontrolled urban sprawl. The next generation of residents will benefit from developments with improved drainage, more open space, and potentially trails and active recreation sites. The coastal and inland waters will be protected by more conscientious planning and zoning.
The overall look of the area will be improved by locating the "right" kind of businesses in the right locations. (For example: Not locating a manufacturing facility at the "entrance" to Hampstead as was recently approved by the County Commissioners; and not locating storage facilities in the front of a commercial site when they could be built to the rear of the site with more attractive and appealing uses such offices, restaurants and stores in the front.)
Current and future residents and businesses. It is anticipated that better control over zoning, conservation and historic preservation, a focus on smart business development, street maintenance and street lighting to improve safety, efforts to bring more recreational areas and businesses to the area together with increased police protection will result in a rise in housing values and an improved quality of life.
If a petition for NCGA consideration fails to garner enough signatures, residents of Hampstead will not have the opportunity to cast an official "yes" or "no" vote on incorporation.
If incorporation loses at a referendum, we project that in the ensuing 10-12 years the Hampstead area will lose the charm it has retained to date. Life-long residents will lose the heritage and familiar landmarks that have survived this long. We will continue to lose neighborhoods with wooded lots and tree-lined streets, the mix of housing styles will be replaced by "track" homes and we will lose the unique coastal environment that we appreciate, hope to protect, enjoy and that brought us here from the beginning.
As of now, there are no formal plans to form a community action group. If we felt that would accomplish the goals, we would have recommended it from the beginning.