Fair Bluff native Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, Thursday introduced a bill to appropriate $5 million from the state’s general fund to establish a low-income multifamily housing program in Fair Bluff to help the town recover from the ravages of Hurricane Matthew and, later that evening, Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus, announced the $5 million to the Greater Fair Bluff Chamber of Commerce.
Rabon said Saturday before the funds are appropriated, the measure (Senate Bill 475) must first gain approval in the Senate before going to the House of Representatives for passage. However, the bill could be considered to be on a fast-track for success, at least in the Senate, because it has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee, which Rabon chairs.
In his bill, Rabon said Fair Bluff ’s devastation by Hurricane Matthew received national attention, including in The New York Times, and he described residents of Fair Bluff as “a proud and resilient people who are determined to rebuild.” The bill would appropriate $5 million from the state’s General Fund to the state Housing Finance Agency (HFA) for the fiscal year that begins July 1 “to create a 32-to-40-unit multifamily housing complex within the Fair Bluff town limits.” Under the terms of the bill, the money would go to an “ownership entity” to be selected by the Town of Fair Bluff. The HFA would ensure that a priority for occupying the apartments “shall be given to residents affected by the fl ooding and damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.”
The idea of a multi-unit apartment complex east of Fair Bluff on Rough n’ Ready Road is something that has been pursued since fl ooding in October displaced many town residents. The town government had been in talks with an unnamed private developer who would agree to be voluntarily annexed by the town following construction of an apartment complex.
Should Rabon’s bill become law, any understandings already arrived at between the town and the unnamed developer apparently would be nullifi ed and, instead, the town would select an “ownership entity” that would receive the state funds and which would operate the apartments as a management company. However, the language of Rabon’s bill would not seem to prohibit the developer with whom the town has been negotiating from being that “ownership entity.