Idols Road Industrial Park Update – 3.12.2018

The Village staff has forwarded all information/communications relating to this project to the Council. The back and forth between the Village and the County, as well as the County to Beaufurn has provided a much more complete picture of the situation for those of us previously unaware of the exact nature of these communications and rather just the end result.

On February 27th Kyle Haney, Forsyth County Economic Development Specialist, presented to the Clemmons West Home Owners Association.  The due diligence period is set to end March 15th with a closing date of April 10th. The county is working to include a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants for the park that will include building restrictions for furniture rezoning.   These fit county standards, but are not in accordance with Clemmons ordinances.  Please keep in mind this property is not Clemmons, but rather Forsyth County on the border of Clemmons.

This is a top priority to the council – to find a way to create a middle ground where all parties feel as though their needs are met.  We will continue to keep Clemmons abreast of any updates.

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.

Library Update Feb. 12, 2018

After some information gathering partnered with multiple meetings the Village and County have a clear path forward for the library. If anyone wants to hear how the sausage is made I would be happy to share those steps in greater detail.

  • Monthly meetings.  Each month we have a regularly scheduled meeting that includes the following attendees:
    • Damon Sanders-Pratt, Deputy County Manager
    • Scott Buffkin, Village Manager
    • Mike Gunnell, Dir. of Public Works
    • Megan Ledbetter, Village Planner
    • David Byington, Architect (citizen volunteer)
    • Lee Reynolds, President of the Friends of Library (citizen volunteer)
    • Mike Combest, Councilman
    • Michelle Barson, Councilwoman
  • While we are too far in the process to change the delivery system (i.e. the process by which it is bid and constructed) we are not too late to participate in further value engineering. To avoid design change fees we will work, in advance of knowing exact figures for the overall process, by prioritizing items that were taken out of the project already.  Damon is going to make a list of all of the items that were deducted from the project and get prices for each item.  The above listed group of people will then prioritize the items to be added back in if/when possible. When more specific numbers are given to the overall project we can better pick and choose what makes the most sense.
  • We are also not too late to make material changes. This means that with the help of David (a private sector architect) we will have a set of trained eyes telling us what materials we may be able to substitute for others without there being any obvious impact to the quality of construction or the aesthetics.  This is a great place for us to find dollars to attribute to other items.

The best news in all of this is that the Village feels like a partner again in the construction of its new library and we can better keep the citizens abreast of the any changes. One thing that Damon and Dudley stressed, that I want to stress to my followers, is that there were “non-negotiables” provided to the county by the previous library group and those are still there and they relate more to the interior uses, which at the end of the day is what matters most.

Not my most eloquent quote, but what I was trying to say at the the meeting was that I was glad there was a minor uproar over the changes to the exterior of the library by the people of Clemmons. It brought the library to the forefront of the Councils’ mind and gave us the direction we needed to re-engage with the county and stay involved with the construction process.  The council serves the people and receiving that type of feedback provides us the guidance that we need.

Idols Industrial Park Update

Prepared by: Scott Buffkin, Village Manager

Date: February 12, 2018

WHY YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS UPDATE

Upon request by Mayor Wait, the Village Manager will make a report at each Council meeting going forward as a means to keep Council fully up to date with all communications between the Village and the County about the Idols Road Industrial Park Project. Very little has changed since last Council meeting so I felt a good report at this point would be a quick review for Council on the Village’s efforts to date to work in regard to the project.

WHERE THIS PROJECT STARTED

As County Manger Watts reported at our January 22, 2018 Council meeting, County and Village staff members have met on multiple occasions to discuss and attempt to work through our mutual concerns about the project. On April 10, 2017 Village staff, County staff including planning staff and Utilities Commission staff met.  Among the items of discussion were development standards, traffic analyses, the nature and amount of upgrades that the Village is being asked to contribute to, etc.  Utilities Commission staff members confirmed their understanding that the funds being requested are contained within the Clemmons reserve fund which was created to fund utility extensions and improvements.  These funds are considered restricted revenues and they may only be used for that purpose.  (The balance of that fund at the end of 2017 = $3,689,601.73.)

Over the next few months Village and County staff met to try to address Council concerns expressed at the annual retreat about traffic generation, design standards, zoning approvals, etc. On May 8, 2017 Mr. Kornelis presented a draft interlocal agreement which would maintain County approval of the zoning approval with annexation of each parcel conditioned as a deed restriction for any new or subsequent owner.  At that time Council did not agree to a proposal that would not include annexation of the entire property from the beginning.  However, Village staff were directed to continue working with County staff to explore all possible resolutions.

In June Village staff delivered an interlocal that we felt was more likely to receive favorable consideration by the Village Council. Among other things it included annexation up front, addressed the need for traffic analyses, development standards and zoning.  County staff reviewed the draft proposal and later replied that they could not agree to many of the provisions contained therein.

On August 17, 2017 the Village Council in it’s entirely conducted a special meeting with Commissioners Plyler and Martin to continue discussions. At this meeting the Commissioners and Council members each had an opportunity to express concerns.  The Commissioners agreed on the importance of continued open dialogue and working together moving forward.

WHERE WE ARE AT NOW

Since that time staff members have held a number of conversations and Village staff has shared the scope of traffic impact analyses, design standards, etc. that would be required if the project were within the Village. The County has continued to move forward on the project as evidenced by their participation in the regional sewer lift station and continued negotiations with the first prospective tenant of the park.

 

THOUGHTS AND MOVING FORWARD – Michelle Barson, Feb 13, 2018

As of now the county took out a loan to handle the sewage costs for their industrial park. The cost is approximately 1.2 million, which is well within the money that the Village has earmarked for such expenses. The question is why don’t we want this deal. The deal previously laid out provided annexation to Clemmons, but only after the industrial park was built and not adhering to Clemmons design standards (as well as some other finer points that just didn’t feel like a good deal for Clemmons). It would also take a number of years (just how many is being looked into currently) to recoup our investment into the industrial park via tax revenue.  The benefit of annexation would be future control of the industrial park and the tax revenue from it.

If this park is going to happen no matter what the council needs to see if we can’t come to a better agreement. First, two questions to have answered.

  1. How long would it take to recoup our investment?

(I’ve heard three different numbers for this)

2. What other sewage projects are vying for those same dollars?

(Great question by Mayor Wait)

Once answered, we will have to weigh what is best for Clemmons – after all, this industrial park will sits across from one of our largest residential developments (Clemmons West), is next to our crown jewel (Tanglewood Park) and would appear as though in Clemmons to any passerby.

 

So, how’s it going?

I get this question a lot or some version thereof.  The essence of it, how do I like being on the Village Council and is it what I expected.

It is exactly what I expected, but knowing it and living it are two different things.

How do I like it? That’s a loaded question for me.  I don’t want to say I dislike it because I feel that is disrespectful to all of the people who volunteered on my behalf and put their faith in me by voting for me.

That said, I cannot say that I LOVE it either.

What it is….all consuming. Time – Energy – Mental Capacity – Patience.  I spend a lot of time asking questions of, and listening to, our Village staff so that I can better serve citizens with concerns, as well as prepare appropriately for Council meetings. There’s a lot of looking into the past so I can see what roads have been travelled and the turns those roads may take. There’s looking into the future so that I can prepare now for the changes to our community that are inevitable.

There’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision and yet there is never a single right decision. There is no clear cut path for any community and there is never a way to make 100 percent of the people happy 100 percent of the time.

I was speaking to another candidate running for office a few weeks ago and said, “I feel like I’m going to disappoint people. That I may end up being someone other than they thought I was.” And she responded to me, “You can only be you”. A simple response, but one that resonated with me. She was right. I cannot be anyone else. I cannot pretend to make decisions in a way other than how I view the situation at hand and how my personal experiences, education and knowledge play into those. All I can do is research, ask the right questions of the right people, and respect my office and those that I serve by thinking each issue through to the best of my ability.

I know there will be failures, but I hope that the successes end up outweighing them.  Each success that comes I must find a way to feel internally rewarded so that I don’t get bogged down by the things I cannot change or fail at influencing in the way I had hoped to.

So, this role isn’t all bad. I see the potential for it to be, as it is already slowing becoming….

Rewarding – through making positive changes to our community with the help of our citizens and our Village staff.

Inspirational – by having the opportunity to meet and work with so many hard working, intelligent and passionate people.

Exciting – because a wise man once told me, “If you’re stuck in the past you’re going to get left behind” and, as a councilwoman, I have an exciting chance to help bring about progress to our tiny corner of the universe.

Council meeting on Monday. I hope to see many of you there.