White Cross Volunteer Fire Department Set To Expand

CARRBORO – The White Cross Volunteer Fire Department is expanding to better provide safety to the houses in its district.

Currently White Cross plans to renovate its current facility on Old Greensboro Rd. and build a new station on Neville Road.

White Cross Board of Directors president, Tony Blake explains the reason for the expansion.

“We’re out of space and we needed to expand our building, now, we realized that years ago and decided to take advantage of USDA funds at a very low rate” Blake commented.

Blake says White Cross plans to use U.S. Department of Agriculture loans only to renovate their current station, and will use the amount the county allots for building the new station on Neville Road.

On June 4, White Cross had a meeting with the CountyCommissioners to discuss the plans to build the new fire station and hear concerns from people in the area.

“Yes, we believe that it falls within the budget, and that was what we went to talk with the County Commissioners, and showed them our figures; but we believe that there is a good value for the residents here” Blake said.

Some people have expressed concerns over building the new fire station in a residential area. Blake says the White Cross Fire Department heard several of these concerns at the Commissioners’ meeting and responded to the people and commissioners with a letter answering many questions.

He says White Cross plans to hold a community meeting when time permits to address any additional concerns.

The location for the new building took a couple years to find, and Blake says will have positive benefits for more than 500 houses in the White Cross district.

“We looked at several parcels of lands over two years and none of them met the criteria, and so the Neville Road location was by far the best location we could find” Blake said.

One of the benefits for 500 houses in the White Cross district is a lower insurance rating. In North Carolina, houses receive insurance ratings based on how far they are from a fire station, and more than five miles away receives a much higher rate. By building the new station on Neville Road, several houses in the eastern region of their district will now be within five miles and get lower insurance rates.

The new station will hold a tanker that the fire station does not currently have and will allow for its staff to better protect the area.  The current White Cross facility uses an outdoor shed to store some vehicles in winter, making it difficult to use them in an emergency. Also, after building the new facility, White Cross wants to hire two more paid staff members to assist the current single paid staff member for the station.

White Cross is always looking for volunteers to help its cause and assist in any way.  Not all volunteers need to be firefighters; Blake says the station has a need for volunteers with any professional or support services like bookkeeping, electricians, plumbers, legal, and web page maintenance.

“Who ever would like to help us ad contribute, that’s what keeps the cost low and makes it work” Blake says.

For more information, you can visit the White Cross website by clicking here.

The letter that White Cross sent to the Commissioners answers questions that people asked during the meeting is also available click here to view.


OC Fire District Plan Sparks Annexation Debate

CHAPEL HILL -A plan to redraw the fire insurance districts south of Chapel Hill sparked a heated debate about annexation between town and county officials.As he kicked off Tuesday’s discussion on creating new fire districts, Assistant County Manager Mike Talbert reminded the Orange County Commissioners, “This has absolutely nothing to do with fire protection, and everything to do with fire insurance.”

But the ninety minute debate also touched on annexation, tax equity, and the future of the town and county’s joint planning areas, as Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt made clear in a speech to the board.

“Under this new annexation paradigm that we’ve been given by the North Carolina legislature, we can think about how we rationally plan our future together, because these tools that created this map are no longer usable,” said Kleinschmidt. “The concept of the [extra-territorial jurisdiction] and that urban or Orange County citizens who live in Chapel Hill should continue to pay for services into the unincorporated areas-that’s no longer workable. Because that area will no longer become part of the town of Chapel Hill. We know that.”

At issue are a handful of homeowners south of Chapel Hill who have seen their fire insurance rates skyrocket now that insurance companies are using GPS to pinpoint their exact distance from fire stations. Under the new rules, those more than six miles away are subject to higher rates, even if the actual fire protection agreements haven’t changed.

The county’s solution was to ask Chapel Hill to extend it’s fire district to include these homes and levy a tax of 15 cents per $100 to cover the cost, or failing that, to ask Carrboro.

The Chapel Hill Town Council first voted against the plan in favor of annexing the neighborhoods north of Mt Carmel Church Road.

But last week the council backtracked, approving a two year contract to cover the homes, after it became clear that recent changes to state law make it impractical to annex the neighborhoods.

On Tuesday however, commissioners argued they want a five year contract that gives the town the chance to opt out annually.

“What I do not want to see us do, is get in a situation where we come back in two years and do the same dance again, “said Commissioner Earl McKee. “I think that if we’re going to make another attempt to work with Chapel Hill on this, it has to be a five year contract, because there is the one-year out.”

Kleinschmidt responded that the town council only approved a two year contract, and would need to reconsider a longer commitment.

Further more, he said it’s time the towns and county revisit the question of what to do with land in the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Much of that land was slated for eventual annexation by Chapel Hill, but lingers in limbo since the general assembly changed the rules to preempt town-initiated annexation. Now, either 100 percent of residents in the affected area must petition the town, or a majority must approve the annexation in a referendum.

Commissioner Mark Dorosin said he’d welcome the chance to revisit the matter of the extra-territorial jurisdictions, or ETJs.

“I think these folks should be annexed, I think they live in Chapel Hill and they should be part of that,” said Dorosin. “But I don’t put all the blame on them, they’ve been in the ETJ for 20 years. Chapel Hill had a long time to annex them and didn’t. To the mayor’s point, about ETJs as a planning tool that allows growth, it has been abused by a lot of towns and they’ve kept areas in their ETJs for decades.”

The board voted unanimously to send a proposal to the town council for a five year contract to extend the Greater Chapel Hill Fire District, as well as an agreement to begin discussion on long-term land planning.

How to prepare for your next mortgage application.

Many people I speak with dread the gathering of documents. Use this checklist, and it will be much easier.
Remember that every lender may have slightly different requirements. When Automated Underwriting is run, a list of documents will be requested “per current guidelines.” The human underwriter may always ask for additional documents.
Whether you are buying or refinancing:
      Legible copy of driver’s license for all borrowers. If it is expiring before you close, renew it now.
      Proof of Income:
a.       If employed:
                                                               i.      Bring two years W-2’s.
                                                             ii.      Most recent months pay stubs. If you are paid weekly, that would be four.
b.      If self employed, commissioned, own rental property, have partnership income,  or will use asset income, bring:
                                                               i.      Two years Federal Tax returns, all schedules, including K-1’s.
                                                             ii.      If you haven’t filed your taxes, bring the extension form.
                                                            iii.      In most cases, the most recent two years income will be averaged.
c.       If relying upon alimony or child support:  The income must continue for a minimum of three years after closing to be included.  Proof of receipt will be required for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, depending upon the lender. If this income has been received for less than 12 months, you may not receive 100% credit.
      Show the money (down payment):
a.       If purchasing, bring most recent bank statement(s) showing sufficient funds for down payment, closing costs, and escrows. Whether you need more than the most recent statement will depend upon your loan type. Ask your lender.
b.      If refinancing, even for a loan where you will bring no money to closing or receive money back, you’ll need a most recent bank statement, all pages.
c.       TIP: Be sure to look at the “deposit” section of your statements. If there are non-payroll type of deposits, you’ll have to show a paper trail to prove those deposits were not “borrowed.”
d.      If you are receiving a gift for all or part of the down payment, your lender will have a “gift” form letter for the donor to complete.
      Citizenship: if you have a green card or visa, speak with your lender first. They will want to know the expiration date and type of visa.
The above are the basic items. You’ll also be asked for the following:

      If purchasing:
a.        A copy of the fully executed contract.
b.      Copy of the earnest money check and proof that it has cleared your account.
c.       If you are using the equity from the sale of another property for down payment, bring the fully executed contract. You will also need the HUD1 Closing statement at a later date.
      If refinancing:
a.       A copy of your most recent mortgage statement and Home Equity Line of Credit or second mortgage statement.
b.      A copy of your prior Title Insurance Policy will allow you to save significantly on the new title insurance.

      The name and contact information of your closing attorney.
      The name and contact information of your Home Owners Insurance Agent.
With the above information ready, you will make a mortgage loan officer and their processor very happy.