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Nov. 29, 2017

This is the post excerpt.

Jim Buice, Political Reporter for the Clemmons Courier, wrote a post-election article and interviewed the candidates (incumbents and those challenging them) and some of it can be read below in the photos. Dwight Sparks, Editor, provided a summary of election day and the results that can be found here.

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Often a single issue dominates a campaign – at any level. Ours was just a little more concrete (pun intended).

This campaign had a single issue that dominated it – median or no median – as a solution to the traffic issues we face on Lewisville-Clemmons Road.  The incumbents refused to recognize it as a political issue yet it was an issue that the incumbents were going to make a decision on and didn’t seem that interested in listening to the small business owners of the strip or the residents of Clemmons. Read more about the hearing that was demanded by the people of Clemmons in 2016 here.

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Excerpt of article where I was quoted. Each candidate was interviewed about the results.

It was frustrating to be called a “single-issue candidate” because while this issue was important and provided a clear distinction between the incumbents and those challenging them it was NOT the only issue that each of us cared about.  I’m passionate about clear, regular communication that will provide transparency to the public and better opportunities for community engagement.  In addition to that, I plan to focus on how we manage projects as a Village, both internally and externally, so that the ball isn’t dropped on big opportunities and that everyone knows exactly where the Village is on any project – large or small.

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My friend promised me that every Election Day is cold and rainy.  She was right! She surprised me with a custom sweatshirt.

May 14, 2017 – Special Session

Last night, prior to the regular meeting, there was a presentation by Pat Ivey, NCDOT Division 9 Engineer and Kimley-Horn Planning and Design Engineer Consultants focused on the solution for Lewisville-Clemmons Road. The majority of the presentation was done by Teresa Gresham, PE Project Manager with Kimely-Horn.

The proposed solution for Lewisville-Clemmons Road south of I-40 shows there will be NO MEDIAN south of Stadium Drive. The proposal was a great beginning.  Here is their presentation: U-6004 Council Presentation 5-14-18.2  *Please note that one item not taken into account yet is the I-40 bridge/interchange. 

Once it was known that a full median wouldn’t be accepted the work began on a more inclusive option. However, this proposal still leaves a lot to be desired. We need to explore more access roads, parallel streets and what type of realistic possibility we have at securing the necessary easements in a timely manner to make any of this happen.

This proposals’ primary focus was safety.  However, I’m concerned not just with safety, but with access to businesses and improving the level of service to the road.

Teresa specifically mentioned that more “ins and outs” at intersections will help to keep a high level of access to busineses where the median crosses in front of them. She provided for that in her proposal. What is also vital is the interconnectivity within the business parks and that still needs to be worked through.  I feel confident that throughout the next couple of months and working together we can fine-tune the plan to make it something that everyone is excited about.

I hope that by creating a safer driving experience there will be a higher likelihood of drivers stopping to conduct business and if the flow is improved (thus drive time is reduced) then there will be more available time for drivers to stop and conduct business. Again, proper access is still key.  Difficult access or time-consuming access may also deter drivers from becoming shoppers.

Kimley-Horn also proposed an added righthand turn lane along L-C Road in front of the Baptist Health center heading North and an additional lefthand turn lane at 158 and Middlebrook.

There are future widening plans for 158 West of L-C Road and this project takes that into account and would take into account a Kinnamon ramp (if that project were to be prioritized).

There was discussion about adding multi-modal opportunities such as bike lanes and sidewalks, but I have a hard time envisioning bike lanes with so many curb cuts. I worry for the safety of bikers.  I believe even walkers/runners will have a difficult time on the sidewalks along L-C Road, but also believe that, that type of access must be made available.

Council must commit to the prioritization of this project (or not) by September, but we will not be making this decision in a vacuum.  If the decision is to move forward then right-of-way acquisition will begin in 2023 and construction would begin in 2025.

We will be seeking both citizen and business input on this proposal over the next couple of months. Please, stay tuned for those public input session dates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 14, 2018 – Tanglewood Business Park

I hate this new name…it’s misleading. It is not a proposed business park, but rather still a proposed industrial park…I digress 😉

Councilman Mike Combest and I now have regularly scheduled meetings with County staff and a core group of Village staff to help shape the future of the land use off of Idols Road in Forsyth County, but adjacent to Clemmons limits.  Essentially, we have decided to follow the same playbook that strengthened communication and partnership between the Village and County as was done for the library.

What we have learned thus far is that the project is not one that any specific Commissioner is passionate about – it’s a staff-driven project.

Unfortunately, we have also learned that the county scope of “economic development” measures only two things – job creation and tax revenue. Economic development is a more comprehensive term that should have more comprehensive research placed behind it.  It should take into consideration logistics, home values, quality of life, environment, and more.  Economic development isn’t just about jobs – it should be about the overall impact on the economic climate of an area.

I am positive about our next steps and how the conversation has been received by a few county commissioners thus far. I believe that even if this goes the route of industrial or business park that Clemmons will have a voice in the execution of it.

May 14, 2018 – Library Update

As many of you have already read the County approved our need for additional funding. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough money to raise the site the desired 2-7 feet. It was priced out at $18/sq foot. The most we could have raised it with that amount of additional money was 2 feet.

We have been assured that there will be no money spent toward a pump station and that gravity flow sewage will work just fine at the current level. We have been assured that raising the site was purely for aesthetic reasons and the county feels the dollars allocated for landscaping will help to negate that difference between the library site and the sidewalk. That said, the pricing has all be quotes up until now and if there is additional money left in the budget we will have influence over where that goes.

We are looking for partners who wish to donate and deliver suitable soils in exchange for naming and sponsorship opportunities. Please contact the village and we can put you in touch with the right contact at the county to make that happen.

We are also looking for community partners who wish to contribute money in exchange for naming and sponsorship opportunities. The Village will be adding to the what the county offers to further promote any business or family that donates. Money that is received sooner can be put toward elevating the site.

ATTENTION: The Planning Board will review the site plans for the library at 7pm tomorrow at Village Hall.

Library Update – April 26, 2018

Well, it’s officially, official. The Clemmons Branch of the Forsyth County Library has received an additional $200,000 from the county. The money comes from savings gained on the Central Library and was packaged with more money for the other library’s, but with Clemmons leading the way and receiving $200,000.  These dollars will go a VERY long way and bring back the aesthetic and useful design elements of front columns (for a covered porch-like area), courtyard pergolas (that make an outside courtyard inviting and more useable on hot days) and fencing (that will help to define the space and keep kids safe).

The conversations with the County started because of the Clemmons community reaction to such design elements being value engineered out to come in under budget.  The Village Council entrusted Mike Combest and I to represent the community and together we met with Commissioner Don Martin. Thanks to Don Martin the Village and County staff reconnected. The County Deputy Manager (Damon-Sanders Pratt) myself, Mike Combest, David Byington (a Clemmons-based architect) and Village staff began meeting on a regular basis.

After many meetings, emails and phone calls it became clear there wasn’t much ability to reallocate dollars at this point in the project. The dollars have been put toward these elements, but Combest and I are still hopeful about elevating the site two to seven feet… soooo if you know anyone who wants naming rights at the library and has suitable soils (and is willing to deliver and possibly even compact the dirt) their donation would be greatly appreciated and rewarded with a sponsorship level that equaled the value donated.

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*There was a previous miscommunication about when this budget amendment was voted on.  It was passed today April 26th and not last Thursday. My apologies for any confusion and misrepresentation.*

 

April 23, 2018 – Tanglewood Business Park

Mike Combest and I met with Forsyth County Commissioner Don Martin who represents Clemmons on Wednesday April 11th to discuss the library and broach this topic as well.

He made it clear that construction of the Tanglewood Business Park would be taking place. He asked what our major concerns were and we shared a few.

One, that the covenants included a berm but not on the side that would be facing the homes of Clemmons West. I asked if he would consider a berm on that side as well and he felt as though that was a very reasonable request. He asked us to come back with a short list of improvements that would make this park more palatable to Clemmons residents.

Second, we asked that it meet the existing standards of Union Cross business park that the county also built.  The discrepancies are currently being reviewed.

Mike Combest and I left that meeting feeling incredibly hopeful about the future of this project and how it will impact Clemmons. Don Martin also shared that the assumptions we (the Village) were making on when we would make back money invested into the pump station were not accurate, but this is a matter of continued debate as it’s all based on unforeseeable numbers.

So, next steps.

  1. Mike Combest and I were granted authority (just last night) from our fellow council members to maintain conversations with the County and continue to represent the Village in matters regarding the business park.
  2. Mike is speaking with a county employee that Don Martin pointed him to, to discuss the differences in Union Cross and Tanglewood Business park.
  3. We are still waiting to hear on the results from the traffic impact analysis.
  4. Have our Village Planner, Megan, choose specific requests to take back to the county for consideration.
  5. Create an on-going communication plan as was done for the library.

 

April 23, 2018 – County Partnership

Below are some highlights from the meeting last night. Click here to review the full agenda.

CALENDAR UPDATES:

The Community Input Session originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 6:30pm for the Comprehensive Plan Review at River Oaks Community Church (Coffee Bar) will be rescheduled to a later date.

Special Meeting (Worksession with Pat Ivey from NCDOT) on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 5:30pm

Events 
April 28 – 8AM Clemmons Community Spring Cleanup @ Public Works
April 28 – 6PM Movie Night in the Village: Ferdinand @ YMCA

 

The biggest take away from last nights meeting in my mind were all project updates so I will tag those into the appropriate blogs. The underlying theme of them being that the county is listening to Clemmons. They care what Clemmons has to say. And, really, why shouldn’t they? Clemmons is Forsyth County – there is an overlapping voter base and shared group of citizens that need support and partnership from their Village council and their County commissioners.

The Village has had a history of feeling snubbed by the county and the county has found Clemmons difficult to work with.  The past is the past and I’m positive about the partnership that is being built between the two entities at both a staff and elected official level.  We are both making compromises and working at promoting an atmosphere of clear, regular communication.

April 9th, 2018 – Brunch Bill

I shared most of what occurred last night via my “project updates”. The most interesting thing going on in last nights meeting included the “Brunch Bill” and the Idols Road Industrial Park (now called Tanglewood Business Park). Here is a link to the full agenda.

TANGLEWOOD BUSINESS PARK

Let’s start with Tanglewood Business Park.  There’s not a whole lot to report on other than there appears to be an offer back on the table. The county had received a loan for the sewage, but they’re still interested in receiving the money for it from Clemmons (and repaying that loan immediately I suppose?). What we don’t know is what we will get in return. No matter what they exchange for it the numbers won’t add up in regard to getting back the money we put in so that angle is fruitless.

So why is this still worth considering?

One, the money we would spend on the sewage is earmarked for projects like that and the only other two projects that could request funds from that same source (in the foreseeable future) are much too large for Clemmons to take on, on our own. This means we have the money to give.

Two, perhaps control of the park and having it annexed to Clemmons has benefits.

  1. It would have to meet our building standards so it would be an attractive building with proper green space and potentially even greenway trails connecting to Tanglewood.
  2. The Village staff would work to ensure the property would be as least disruptive to the residents nearby as possible.  This could be accomplished by including berms, meeting our stormwater guidelines, etc.
  3. Annexation to Clemmons means we would have control of the property in the future and would receive the tax dollars generated from that property.

The Council believes the County wishes to build on this property. Wether it’s today or tomorrow that land will be developed and it is currently zoned for light and general industrial.  If we pass on this opportunity, which they are setting up as the last opportunity (though that’s been done before) perhaps we will lose any opportunity to have a say.

Staff is going to reach out and see if the original offer from a year-in-a-half ago is something that looks more agreeable to them now.  Once we find that out the Council can have a more constructive conversation around this issue. Mike Combest and I are also meeting with Don Martin (Forsyth County Commissioner) on Thursday in regard to the Clemmons Library and will ask for some insight on this project as well.  We will share with the rest of the Council what we learn.

BRUNCH BILL

Last night the Council voted 3-2 in favor of the Brunch Bill.  The “Brunch Bill” is a bill the state passed this past summer allowing the sales of alcohol on Sunday at 10am instead of 12pm. It’s a unique bill because each municipality gets to opt-in.

This issue was brought to us by a number of grocery stores and restaurants calling in to the Village Manager.  It was decided at the retreat to put it on the agenda.  At our last regular meeting Council decided to have a special public comments section regarding it and invite our local ABC Representative Eric Blanks to speak in regard to it. Blanks – Brunch Bill info can be found here. It is the document he provided Council with prior to the meeting and will be included in the final agenda publishing.

Eric Blanks spoke at the meeting and provided some background information on the bill, as well as some history on the sales of alcohol in our state.  I voted in favor for the following reasons:

  1. To attract more restaurants to our community similar to 2520 to better round out our dining-out opportunities.
  2. To show support of the grocery stores and restaurants that are here now and requested it.
  3. Higher sales at restaurants and groceries means more tax revenue for the community and perhaps even a demand for more employees.

There were two interesting arguments brought up against this bill.

  1. There was no one there to support it or fight it so why were we even discussing it?
  2. Who cares that government liaisons from the grocery chains are contacting the village. It should be the local managers.

Let me answer both. To the first, the businesses want it. The reason the businesses want it is because the interest is there from the people they serve.  They called us and therefore we should address it. Regardless of outcome it deserves being addressed as they are a stakeholder in our community too.

To the second, here’s how the process works for chain locations.

  1. Shoppers complain about not being able to purchase.
  2. Store managers tell corporate offices their sales could by higher if alcohol sales were available earlier.
  3. Corporate offices talk to their lobbyists / government liaisons about addressing this issue on their behalf.
  4. The government liaison contacts the appropriate body of government or elected official and asks them to consider their perspective on the issue.

There may even be something prohibiting managers of chain locations from contacting local government. Large corporations can often be restrictive on their employees in order to maintain continuity among their locations.

So I believe that the process that occurred is exactly the one that our society has put in place. Therefore whether or not a call came from down the street (as some of them did from our local restaurants) or across the country the weight it carries in our community on behalf of a business is equal. Certainly, they serve the same residents of Clemmons and surrounding areas.