New members sworn in Thursday evening, along with Police Chief Tina Fleming
BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council honored two departing council members on Thursday night before welcoming two newcomers to the board and a new police chief to the Troutman Police Department.
The staff and council held a reception prior to the meeting to honor Judy Jablonski and Jan Huffman and then approved resolutions thanking both for their service to the community.
Jablonski, who chose to retire from the council, was recognized for serving five years on the council, five years on the Planning and Zoning Board, and one year on the Technical Review Committee.
She created the council’s monthly Educational Spotlight to honor local teachers and students and “was instrumental in water and sewer infrastructure improvements, personnel pay plan, personnel policy rewrite, capital improvement projects, and budgetary matters.”
Huffman lost her bid to retain her seat in the November election. She served 10 months on the council after being appointed to retiring Jim Troutman’s seat. She was previously on the Board of Adjustment for five years.
The council expressed its appreciation for the “dedication, thoughtful service, leadership, expertise, and knowledge” that Huffman added to council business and the new town manager search.
After the recognitions, Judge Deborah Brown administered the oath of office to Mayor Teross Young and incoming council members George Harris and Eddie Nau, all surrounded by their proud families.
Brown then administered the oath of office to Troutman Chief of Police Tina Fleming, who was also surrounded by a large family contingent as well as TPC officers and officers and representatives from the N.C. Highway Patrol and Statesville Police Department.
Council members again unanimously selected Paul Henkel as mayor pro tem.
The council selected Harris as its Centralina Council of Governments representative, with Nau as the alternate. Henkel will be the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization alternate for representative Mayor Young, and Paul Bryant will be the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission representative.
MARLEY JAYE VILLAGE REZONING APPROVED
After an hour-long public hearing, the Council approved the Marley Jaye Village rezoning request after months of discussion before the Planning and Zoning Board, which did not recommend the rezoning to council.
The 4-1 vote had Harris, who was on the Planning and Zoning Board at the time, casting the lone dissenting vote.
Engineer Andrew Grant appeared before Council to present Beacon Investment Partners’ proposal for a 91.5-acre tract owned by Bruce Murdock, to develop 165 homes (with a gross density of 1.80 homes per acre).
However, this development requires a rezoning from suburban residential to conditional mixed residential zoning long opposed by neighbors on several previously proposed projects. The Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously, without discussion, to reject the rezoning proposal in November, though Town Planner George Berger recommended approval.
Grant pointed out a number of concessions and changes developers made to address neighbors’ concerns, including installation of a three-way stop made in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Transportation, moving one entrance to shield neighbors from headlights, and the installation of privacy berms.
The developers will also install 3,000 feet of water lines from Eastway Drive to the development, which will be an improvement to the town’s infrastructure.
The homes, which will be clustered to preserve the property’s natural resources, also have setbacks exceeding town requirements and will have no vinyl except as a trim material, which will attract more upper-tier builders to the project, according to Grant.
Beacon also completed a traffic impact analysis, which showed that the roads in the area are only at 25 percent of their capacity to allay neighbors’ traffic concerns. The company is also deeding right of way for a future roundabout at the Hoover/Perry intersection.
After neighbors traffic concerns were expressed at previous meetings, Berger contacted area law enforcement to get accident data and discovered that Troutman Fire and Rescue responded to three accidents in the area in the last five years, NCDOT reported two, and the Highway Patrol and Iredell County Sheriff’s Office reported none.
Grant also said that neighbors’ requested four-way stop was actually more dangerous than a three-way from an engineering standpoint. A three-way stop has nine conflict points, with a four-way soaring up to 32.
Neighbors again urged council members to deny the rezoning, citing the effect on their quality of life, increased traffic, school overcrowding, and smart control of growth to avoid the mistakes of nearby towns. They were also concerned developers had not selected a builder, which would indicate the quality of homes to be constructed.
“As a Town Council, I believe it is your responsibility to expect more from these developers. You should be concerned about how this will affect the immediate neighbors and not let the developers come into town and do bare minimums,” said neighbor Linda Gillon.
“They should come and leave our neighborhood better than when they came, although I do not consider 165 homes a betterment to my neighborhood.”
Neighbor Barry Lippard pleaded with the council to “take the wise counsel of the Planning and Zoning Board.”
Michael Drake moved to Troutman after Mooresville’s development explosion, vowing not to make the mistake of not speaking up this time. “My concern is more on what kind of community we are supporting here in town,” he said.
“What’s the future of the town, not just this development, but setting the stage for future growth that is definitely going to come to us?”
Drake questioned the effect on schools and quality of life. “We don’t want to get overgrown too fast and get out of control.”
Equity Commercial Properties’ Frank Harmon spoke for the Murdock family, which has been trying to sell the property for 12 years while paying taxes on it with no return. He pointed out that most developers have not selected a builder when developing a project and that roads rarely keep up with traffic in high growth areas, regardless of planning efforts.
Harmon said Troutman was lucky that it was attracting people and good developers like Beacon’s John True, who’s gone the extra mile to work with community members. He feels the development will be a “quality addition to the community.”
In other business, the Council:
♦ Appointed alternate Ray Welsh to a voting position on the Planning and Zoning Board, taking Harris’s spot after his election to the council. Lori Eberly was selected to fill Welsh’s alternate position.
♦ Approved the 2020 Town Council Meeting Schedule and the 2020 Town Events Calendar.
♦ Approved the Troutman Parks and Recreation Committee’s Rules and Procedures.
♦ Approved the purchase of a sewer rehabilitation easement and the purchase of Treyus Liftstation monitoring system to replace its outdated SCADA water monitoring system.
♦ Heard a report from Interim Town Manager Jim Freeman that the town is still collecting signatures for easements prior to beginning the Mill Village Waste Water Collection Rehabilitation Project.
The town is asking the state for a three-month extension to begin the project because of this delay. As soon as the easements are complete, Freeman said all plans and permits are ready to go and the project process can then begin immediately.
♦ Freeman also said talks are in progress with the City of Statesville regarding the expiring agreements about the annexation boundary status with Troutman and wastewater capacity.
♦ After complaints from Barium Seasons Village residents over the past few months about the unsightly street patching in the neighborhood, Freeman said the council could discuss adding a fix to the situation in next year’s budget at its annual retreat early next year.
♦ Staff is also following up in delays to installation and repair of streetlights in several areas of town.