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Davidson’s effort to create affordable housing lands the town in court

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A town’s possible solution to create affordable housing has turned into a court battle.

Home builder Lennar Corporation said the rules in Davidson are going too far.

[ALSO READ: 106-year-old Davidson home relocated, salvaged for affordable housing]

Davidson East boasts amenities like the convenient location, swimming pool and playground with homes starting in the low 500s.

Before Lennar Corporation could build the neighborhood with 480 units, Davidson required the home builder to pay more than $700,000 toward the town’s affordable housing fund.

Lennar is suing the town to get that money back.

The price for the homes may be out of reach for some families, said Laura Belcher, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte region.

“It’s really getting harder and harder for people to find homes they can afford,” Belcher said. “We’re talking tens of thousands.”

Belcher is on the affordable housing board in Davidson.

“We want to see mixed neighborhoods where we have price-points for a variety of different working professionals and families,” she said.

The town of Davidson requires developers to dedicate 12.5% of units as affordable, sell them for less than market value or the developer must pay fees to Davidson’s Affordable Housing Fund.

Lennar chose not to dedicate units to affordable housing, so it had to pay more than $769,000, which includes interest, for the construction of Davidson East.

“The town does not have, and never has had, the legal authority to require a property owner to pay as a condition for development, an affordable housing fee...” the lawsuit states.

State Sen. Deandrea Salvador, D-Mecklenburg County, sponsored Senate Bill 426, which would give cities and towns more authority to enact inclusionary zoning for towns like Davidson.

“I certainly understand there may be developer concerns, but we do still have these pressing needs in our community,” Salvador said.

[ALSO READ: Davidson sets priorities on affordable housing]

The bill stalled in committee and didn’t pass last session, which is another reason Lennar’s lawyers argue the town went too far.

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Town officials told Channel 9 that they can’t comment on the lawsuit but the response they filed in court asks the judge to toss out the case.

Attorneys for Lennar wouldn’t go on camera either but said it may be late this year or 2023 before the case is resolved.

The only other place with affordable housing rules for developers like Davidson is Chapel Hill where there is a lawsuit over it as well.

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