By Richard Sullins |

Sanford was recognized in 2020 as the fifth fastest growing micropolitan area among 100 other similar-sized cities in the United States. And for the past three years, the City Council has tried to manage that growth through its processes for annexation and application of the Unified Development Ordinance it shares with Lee County.

But even so, a steady stream of petitions continues to find its way onto the council’s agenda as the city continues to expand, and the council has scheduled May 3 as the date for public hearings on three new petitions for contiguous annexation into the corporate limits.

If approved, the new annexations would add another 83 acres into the city’s land mass.

The first petition was filed by Forge Investment Group LLC and Swartz Properties for a 29.429-acre tract with frontage along South Franklin Drive near the intersection of Wicker Street, and a second petition from MAD M&R, LLC Properties requests the annexation of 21.067 acres off Kelly Drive near Calcutta Lane and Winslow Drive. Both of these tracts are managed by developer Mark Lyczkowski and would be zoned for residential use.

A third petition is for another 32.719 acres along West Main Street in Jonesboro near the intersection with Lemon Springs Road. This tract, owned by Kelly, Foushee, and Boles Properties, was approved by the Council several months ago as part of a project called West Main Townhomes.

Despite the impact of COVID on its public meetings in 2020, the council has been very active in its consideration of requests for zoning reviews. Mann told a recent joint meeting with the Broadway Town Board and the Lee County Board of Commissioners that during the three year period that began in 2019 and ended in 2021, the council approved more than 6,200 single-family dwellings to be constructed within the City.

Today, 1,453 homes are now under construction, another 2,793 have been approved to be built. Still another 1,983 homes are in review.

And that’s just single-family homes.

Multi-family units (apartments) are also seeing an explosion in growth. From 2019 to 2021, the city approved 1,054 units that are now under construction, 1,436 others have been given approval, and 970 more are under review. That’s a total of more than 3,400 new multi-family units under way in the City.

If you add the number of approved single-family homes and apartments that are either now under construction or soon will be, that’s a total of more than 9,600 new dwelling units or lots.

Think about that for a minute – 9,600 new places for families to live in Sanford.

That number includes the construction that is continuing on the 995 lots that will soon make up the Galvin’s Ridge development at the intersection of Colon Road and U.S. 1, and work will begin this year on two other large developments approved in Sanford last year – Ashby Commons with 800 homes just off South Horner Boulevard, and another 900 single-family dwellings and townhome development at Colon and Lower Moncure roads called Midtown Village South.

There is another large development approved on N.C. 87 just south of South Park Village Apartments. This one, to be called Laurel Oaks, is another Lyczkowski project that will add 600 homes in the city’s strip mall district.

Growth areas

So, where will Sanford see growth coming by 2030? Mann’s presentation to the joint board meeting points to areas in both the northern and southern edges of the city.

One of the hottest growth regions will stretch from U.S. 15-501’s intersection with U.S. 1 northward to the Colon Road area, encompassing Galvin’s Ridge, Central Carolina Enterprise Park, new economic developments along Colon Road, and the city’s fifth fire station. Another follows U.S. 421 north from its intersection with U.S. 1 to the Village of Cumnock and Brookshire developments.

To the south, future development is forecasted along Tramway Road from U.S. 1 all the way to the intersection with Horner Boulevard in Jonesboro. Likewise, the same is predicted for the region that lies between South Horner Boulevard and Lee Avenue near the location where the U.S. 421 bypass begins.

Many dimensions are involved in city growth, particularly when it comes to infrastructure, and the City Council took steps to begin planning based on recent and projected growth by approving the Public Works Department’s request to apply for grant funding. The state of North Carolina now has $80 million in planning funds and will give each municipality that applies up to $400,000 to determine its capacity needs and explore what options to meet them are available.