Hamlet Council Considers Ways to Encourage Home Construction on Town-Owned Lot

A Hamlet Town Council member has a plan to get a new home built on a piece of vacant land, but finding a way to do it that’s legal and fair may be tricky. For months, council members have expressed their desire for a new home on a piece of town-owned land at Lincoln and Pearl streets.

Last week, Council Member Brian Earnest suggested selling the land at a significantly reduced price to a contractor who would build a home to the town’s specifications within 12 months. “A 1,500-square-foot house, three-bedroom, two-bath, with an attached garage with a minimum of one car; some contractor stipulations: show prior work history so we can see that it’s someone who has built homes before,” Earnest explained. He felt that selling directly to a contractor would help make sure a home would actually be built and give the town a chance to vet the builder.

Town Attorney Martin Bedrock thought that accepting sealed bids would be a fairer method. Earnest generally agreed but wanted to make sure that the winning bidder could still be held to the stipulations the town wants to put in place. “If they’ve got half a house built on there and the bank’s released money on it already, it’s going to be tough for us to get return of ownership on it,” Earnest said.

Bedrock suggested that the town could hold onto the deed until the project is complete, but others worried that banks wouldn’t give builders financing under such an arrangement.

Council members decided to hold off on any action to give town officials a chance to do more research. Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts agreed to look into programs in place in other communities, in which they sell homes for a dollar if the buyer agrees to repair them.