An ongoing question about the availability of diverse housing options in northwest Guilford County gained new steam this week when Bill Jones, a lifetime Stokesdale resident, announced he was stepping down from the Town Council and leaving town because of a lack of housing in his price range in Stokesdale.
Oak Ridge Town Councilmember George McClellan said this week that his town is struggling with the same issue. He said there’s now an effort by some in Oak Ridge to push for zoning changes that would create “a little diversity” in the housing market.
According to McClellan, in February of next year, the town will hear an important zoning case about a proposed “duplex-type” housing development. But right now, he said, the rule remains, for the most part, “one house per acre,”
The issue of diversity in housing in the northwest Guilford County got a lot of publicity from Summerfield throughout 2018 as that town grappled with the best plan for its future development. Summerfield Town Councilmember Dena Barnes said earlier this year that no one wants to see out of control development, but a lot of people in Summerfield, she said, would like to see something other than “cookie cutter” homes.
The same discussion is now taking place all across northwestern Guilford County as the area becomes more and more populated.
When Jones announced he was stepping down from the Stokesdale Town Council, he said a lack of housing in the $200,000 range was the reason he was moving away from the place his family had been for over a century.
“I built this house with the intention that I would sell it and move to something smaller one day,” Jones said this week. “I started looking around at all the houses in the $200,000 range [in Stokesdale], but there was nothing.”
He said one big culprit is the skyrocketing property values in the area.
“When I first bought this lot in the early ‘80s,” Jones said, “I paid $12,000 for a one-acre lot.”
He said property in the area is now so expensive after decades of growth – $70,000 or $80,000 a lot – that developers now never want to put lower priced homes on the land.
“They can make more money from a $450,000 house,” he said.
Jones added that, though his final destination isn’t certain at this point, he may end up in Kernersville where there are more housing options.
He said developers in the Stokesdale area have been building some duplexes that rent for around $800 a month, but for those who want to own the choices are severely limited.
Jones also said a partial solution is that someone needs to buy a piece of land in the area and put 100 or so homes in one compact development.
“I think the zoning could get approved,” he said.