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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 26, 2018 – New Meeting Structure

We tried out our new meeting structure tonight. Typically, we have two meetings each month that include regular business and agenda items that require deeper Council consideration. What we are currently test driving is a a meeting structure were we DISCUSS an item in the first meeting of the month and VOTE on it the next meeting. What this accomplishes is twofold.

  1. Council is able to digest information presented over the course of two weeks before having to speak to it or vote on it. As opposed to three days at times.
  2. It puts the same issue on the agenda TWICE so that members of the community have two opportunities to be heard on it.

One concern was about only voting at one meeting – if we only voted at one meeting it might hold up some of the regular business items the Village staff needs approval on to move forward. We think we resolved this by not being too strict on voting or not voting as a general rule, but rather as a tool to postpone an on-the-spot decision for the bigger issues and not the day-to-day Village business.

The full meeting agenda can be found here.

Here are the two issues I found most intriguing from the last meeting.

Brunch Bill

The state passed the Brunch Bill, which allows counties and municipalities to opt-in to allowing locations to serve or sell alcohol on Sunday at 10am instead of 12pm. Currently this cannot be done until Sunday at 12pm in Clemmons, which was the statewide law until this past summer when the Brunch Bill was passed by Gov. Roy Cooper on June 30th.

Forsyth County has passed the Brunch Bill, but each municipality within the county can decide on whether or not they wish to also pass it.  Nearby Lewisville has not yet passed it, but Bermuda Run has.

I plan to vote that we pass it at our next meeting.  I think not passing it can put our businesses (Publix, Lowes, Harris Teeter, etc.) at a distinct disadvantage from their nearby competitors.  I also worry it could deter a restaurant from choosing to open in Clemmons.  Here is a slightly outdated list (last updated in November 2017) of counties and municipalities who are “brunching”.

While a public hearing is not necessary the Council agreed to set aside time on the next Agenda (April 9th) for people to respond.  I look forward to hearing comments on both sides of the issue and while I plan to vote in favor of it I am open to hearing reasons why I should not. I just haven’t heard a compelling one yet.

Speed Limit Reduction

Any street in Clemmons can apply to have their speed limit modified from the Village speed limit of 35mph and if they receive 75% of the streets residents’ signatures it is likely to be approved by Council based on past precedent. West Blue Bonnet Lane has applied for a reduction and met the threshold of 75%.

I will absolutely vote in favor of the speed reduction to 25mph and have  previously spoken with Village staff about the cost to reduce ALL neighborhood speed limits to 25.  There are so few neighborhoods in Clemmons that have sidewalks and 35mph just feels too fast.  Many of our neighborhood roads are long and straight with few stop signs, which may encourage speeding above and beyond 35 and, again, I feel even 35 is too fast when there are people out walking, biking and playing in the streets.

The cost would be minimal to decrease all neighborhood speed limits to 25mph, but potentially so would the impact.  While I personally still think it’s worth exploring it was explained to me that reducing the speed limit may help to deter a few drivers but not as many as residents may hope.  There are traffic calming measures that should be considered instead as a more real solution to speeding and pedestrian safety, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Speed humps
    • This would limit snow plowing.
  • Roadway narrowing or lane reductions
    • This can be done by adding sidewalks or bike lanes (win-win?)
  • Roadside shrubbery
    • Large expense and is often up to the homeowner and not the Village
  • Allowing on-street parking
    • Most of our neighborhood roads (to my knowledge) do allow this already
  • Improving speed limit compliance
    • This means more traffic cops, which would be a huge expense

 

 

 

March 12, 2018 – Market Center Drive

The biggest part of the meeting last night was in regard to the Market Center Drive project.  Market Center Drive is a road that runs parallel to Lewisville-Clemmons Road and connects Stadium Drive to Meadowbrook Mall Court.  The scope of the project includes the reconstruction of it (if you’ve been on it you know how bad it is), including road repair, sidewalk creation, increased and improved parking, street lights, crosswalks and street trees (i.e. it includes pretty stuff and super, useful pedestrian stuff, as well as creates more safety type of stuff).  A fully itemized list is available via the draft agenda for March 12 here.

The money for the project comes from many areas, but the one that came into question last night was in regard to the Main Street grant, which is a grant that comes from the NC Department of Commerce.  This is because $57k of the $100k from that grant was allocated toward a stamping of the Village logo on Market Center Drive and the project has gone over budget by about those same dollars. Last night Council was asked to adopt the revised budget with the project overage…instead it was sent back to Megan Ledbetter, Village Planner, to see if we could reallocate some of the received grant dollars for the logo stamping to a more necessary part of the project and remove the logo stamp from the scope of the project entirely.

The project has gone over budget for a number of reasons, including:

  • Costs were forecasted (so were approximations) for many of the line items
  • The project was originally meant to be started years ago so there has been a natural rise in material and labor costs
  • There has been a rise in costs (just over the last year even) due to rising oil prices
  • Since the economic downturn there are fewer construction companies, which means less competition for business thus higher costs

I’m hopeful we can reallocate those dollars to a more meaningful aspect of the project and move forward with it.  I would love to see something like a stamped logo on our streets but in a more prominent intersection (for instance, 158 + Middlebrook or Peacehaven + Lewisville-Clemmons or the like) or at an area that serves as a “gateway” to our community (for instance, Harper Road + 158, etc.).

Oh, and also on the agenda. A proclamation for Forsyth Creek Week 2018 in Clemmons. 

This is actually pretty cool – it’s truly just this acknowledgment that water is a valuable resource and for our community to be successful we have to protect it.  Read the proclamation – very short, but very meaningful.  We cannot live without water and I know I take having clean, accessible water is something I take for granted every day….every Tervis full. If you want family, fun activities for creek week (next week March 17-25) visit Triad Moms on Main. 

Feb. 26, 2018 – Interlocal Agreement

As February winds down and our Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors initiative comes to an end the Village has begun to prepare for  March 2018 as March for Meals Month.

Shannon Ford, Village Marketing and Communications, will prepare data for our next council meeting to showcase the success (hopefully) of the Village of Clemmons promotion and support for the Clemmons Food Pantry over the past month (the chosen non-profit for the month).

March is also Random Acts of Kindness month – a month dedicated to the encouragement of kind acts for no reason other than to make that other persons day better. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late Princess Diana and I believe captures the message of this initiative.  She said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you”.

This leads me to our INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT Tobaccoville 2017-2018 where the Village of Clemmons assists the Village of Tobaccoville with their annual collection of bulk trash.

Northwest Piedmont Safety Partnership

Each year Clemmons assists the Village of Tobaccoville by lending workers and trucks to perform their bulk trash pick up.  It is scheduled at a time when we do not utilize the trucks and comes at no cost to us as Tobaccoville covers the cost for each day our staff and trucks are there (as determined by our own Ann Stroud, Village Finance Officer).

Clemmons partners with a number of smaller municipalities (Kernersville, King, Lewisville, Rural Hall, Tobaccoville, and Walkertown) and representatives from each one meet four to six times each year to discuss unforeseen disaster plans and discuss how they can share resources when applicable. This coalition is called the Northwest Piedmont Safety Partnership.

The Northwest Piedmont Safety Partnership was created out of a need that smaller municipalities have – fewer resources both monetarily and in manpower.

Its roots can be traced back to the early 90’s when a severe storm hit Mayodan (a town in Rockingham County) causing power outages and extensive tree damage. Clemmons, Rural Hall, King, Kernersville, Mocksville ,Mt. Airy, Madison, Walkertown and Winston Salem all sent staff and resources to aid with recovery.  Later, in 1998, Clemmons was hit with tornadoes in the Waterford Area and help came in from the outlying municipalities.

The collaboration has been helpful beyond disasters by allowing each municipality to open the lines of communication among them and reinforce the idea of helping one another in both times of desperate needs and for the everyday.   Each time they meet they discuss safety and operational topics.  They’ve also hosted outside experts and partners such as engineers, vendors and representatives from the League of Municipalities.

 

Community Garage Sale

Each year Clemmons has a bulk trash pick up in March, which also happens to be our Random Acts of Kindness month.  I spoke with Shannon Ford, Village Marketing and Communications, about the feasibility of promoting a community-wide yard sale prior to the bulk trash pick up and what that might look like. I also asked about partnering with a non-profit (or two or three or however many) to come between the yard sales and the bulk trash pick up to see if there were any items that would fit the needs of those they served and take additional pressure off of our public works staff.  She thought this could be done and after a brief discussion at Monday’s council meeting and consensus among the council she is going to put this event together for 2019.

Many neighborhoods already schedule their neighborhood-wide yard sales in the weeks prior to bulk trash pick up for much the same reason…no one wants to bring that stuff back in the house. But what if we could coordinate it so that people from Clemmons, around Clemmons and far outside Clemmons came a few different days to shop at multiple yard sales all in the sam general vicinity? We could bring some attention not just to the strip (though that’s a great benefit too), but to our many beautiful neighborhoods and homes.  It would help showcase Clemmons as a great place not just to eat and shop, but to live.  Plus people are more willing to travel for a garage/yard sale when there are multiple to go to near by.

The hope was to get this going for 2018, but there’s been a lot going on this winter so Shannon will wait until 2019 to launch the program and see if it gains any traction.

If you are in charge of planning your neighborhood yard sale each year or know who does, please contact Shannon Ford and let her know.  One thought she had was to create a special event facebook page where homeowners could add their address if they were participating, but it would also be great to send out information via email and Nextdoor of any neighborhoods that are participating. Hopefully the planning can begin in January so that a date is set early enough for everyone to coordinate with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2018 – The Median

Let’s get right to it.  This last election cycle had a contentious topic – whether or not to install a median down Lewisville-Clemmons Road and whether or not the previous council had limited our options only to a median.

Last night, Mayor Wait provided an awesome power point that tells the story better than I ever could. Please click to view his power point. Johns Power Point

The Council was then presented with two replacement resolution options. The third option being, of course, to adopt no new resolution.  The previous resolution Resolution 2016-R-17 was adopted by Village Council on September 26th, 2016 in it, it clearly states:

  • The Village supports DOT’s plan to build a median south of I-40 to Highway 158 on L-C Road.
  • That if the project is funded, “NCDOT will construct a 4-land divided cross-section[.]”
  • The resolution DOES NOT support the exploration of any other solutions for this road besides a median.

Here were our options for a new resolution.  John Wait, Warren Kasper (atty to the Village) and Village staff prepared the resolution Project U-6004 Resolution – REVIEW DRAFT-A.  Mike Combest, prior to the meeting, (we all received a copy of these prior to the meeting) edited it down to create Project U-6004 Resolution – REVIEW DRAFT B.  The difference between them was a number of paragraphs preceding the real meat of the resolution, which is:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Village Council of Clemmons that it will re-evaluate its support of and point assignment to Project U-6004 after NCDOT presents its design to the Council and input is received from the community. The Village Council wishes for such design to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety within the Corridor, enhance the appearance thereof, and preserve ready access to the businesses and facilities located therein. The Village Council further desires that every feasible option be presented to the Village of Clemmons to achieve such outcomes, and that solutions not be limited to those including a substantially unbroken median throughout the Corridor. To this end the Village Council strongly encourages NCDOT to enlarge the scope of its planning process regarding Project U-6004.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall not change the current NCDOT SPOT priority and point assignment for Project U-6004 by the Village, pending a review of design options presented to the Village Council by NCDOT.

All five council members agreed on the points of Draft B and we could have had a unanimous agreement on that.  My concern was, and I brought it up last night, that without the preceeding paragraphs (or the numerous “whereas” statements) it was hard to tell why we were putting forth a second resolution regarding the same study. I thought it was important that we were clear that this resolution took the place of the previous one and that we were clear as to why this was being done – to encourage DOT to provide us with options that were outside of just a median-based solution.

IMG_6285

I really thought this would be viewed as a great “win” for both sides of the median argument.  A replacement resolution and not just a repeal was something that I had wanted and spoke about (and we can’t repeal a resolution anyway – they’re apparently just a statement that represents our sentiments so essentially we just updated our opinion).

We should have some design options in April/May and my hope is to have a Town Hall meeting following soon thereafter to receive feedback and have DOT and the engineers answer any questions from the community.