BY DEBBIE PAGE
During a three-and-a-half-hour pre-agenda meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the Troutman Town Council covered a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 related issues, water pressure issues in the Barium Seasons subdivision, beautification projects, and a possible livestock ordinance revision, before reviewing its Thursday meeting agenda items.
Council member Paul Bryant was pleased by a detailed report compiled by Finance Director Steve Shealy and Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck outlining the town’s financial situation thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report shows minimal impact thus far on revenues and operating expenses, which presented “an encouraging picture in spite of the difficulties of COVID-19,” said Bryant.
Bryant also reported that a recent Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization communication indicated that NCDOT financial problems from overspending and lowered tax collections have resulted in disappointing news for the area.
“All projects affecting us have been pushed back years,” said Bryant, including the widening of Highway 21/Main Street, the realigning of Flower House Loop and Houston Road, and the Highway 150 widening project in Mooresville.
Shealy also updated council members on past due water and sewer bill collection, saying that 200 letters were sent to collect for outstanding bills after Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order prohibiting utility cutoffs expired July 31.
The outstanding balances, accruing from March 31 to July 31, totaled $18,545. After receiving the past due letters, most customers came in and paid off their balances. Another 26 signed a contract to pay off their balances over the next six months, and 26 others did not respond.
The non-responders were sent a second letter. If they do not make payment arrangements by September 25, the town will cut off their water and sewer service the next day.
Of the 10 businesses with outstanding balances last month, only two remain, but Shealy expected both situations to be rectified promptly.
Gruesbeck also reported that AV equipment is on order to improve broadcasts of town meetings to the public during meeting room capacity restrictions resulting from the governor’s executive orders.
Citizens again reported problems with audio during Tuesday’s meeting, despite two pre-meeting checks that indicated the current system was operational. Parker Productions will be installing the equipment as soon as it arrives.
WATER PRESSURE CONCERNS
Public Works Director Adam Lippard reported that his staff, EnergyUnited, and Town Engineer Benjie Thomas are working to trace and isolate the source of intermittent water pressure issues along Old Mountain Road that are affecting the Barium Seasons subdivision.
So far, they have discovered that the pressure reduction seems related to the EnergyUnited main valve switching off once a certain pressure is achieved. They have tracked the problem down to one section of the water line, and they are checking valves in the area.
Thomas is running models to determine where the issue may be, and work will continue to solve the problems this week. Lippard thinks there may be a valve of which they are unaware of that may be the culprit.
The council was pleased to see the town’s wayfinding project, first discussed in 2016, was finally complete after repeated contractor delays. Signs were recently installed along Perth Road and at several other locations, along with the updated sign reflecting the YMCA’s change to the Iredell County Recreation Center.
Council member Sally Williams asked Gruesbeck to check into removing some limbs obscuring the approach to some of the new signage, particularly on Perth Road.
Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson presented council with a $5,000 10-foot-by-30-foot mural proposal for the side of the town-owned building on Wagner Street. She suggested using the Troutman paddle logo with the wording “Welcome to Troutman, Enjoy Lake Norman … Naturally.”
Watson said the mural could be either be applied as a vinyl transfer or hand-painted. Since the logo belongs to the town, no copyright issues would emerge as did with the murals over Southern Treats.
The council budgeted $15,000 this year for downtown beautification. Watson suggested the remainder of the funds be used for new benches to match those on the greenway, along with planters and decorative lamp posts, to enhance Wagner Street.
Watson will continue to investigate lamp post options and await the council’s decision on the mural.
Watson also reported the opening weekend of the splash pad was a great success. The amenity will remain open through September 30.
The current Troutman Code of Ordinances currently makes it “unlawful for any person to keep any domestic fowl, cow, sheep, hog, pig, swine, goat, horse, mule, or other livestock, within the corporate limits of the town, unless authorized pursuant to other specific provisions of this article or unless authorized under a specific provision of the unified development ordinance of the town.”
However, some residents who already had livestock were grandfathered in. A new resident has asked that she be allowed to have hens on her property, and another has asked that a goat be allowed on her property for a period of time to address a kudzu problem.
The council asked Gruesbeck to revisit a previous Code of Ordinances to propose language to allow hens (no roosters because of noise) and perhaps other livestock in the town limits.
THURSDAY NIGHT AGENDA ITEMS
♦ Consideration of an annexation request for the 68-acre Smith Village project on Charlotte Hwy/US 21 at Crosstie Lane. If the annexation is approved, Prestige Corporate Development will then present two zoning requests for the property (conditional mixed residential for 85 single-family homes in one section and conditional highway business for another section to accommodate 175 attached townhomes and up to 250,000 square feet in commercial space).
♦ Consideration of a $126,250 contract for the 2020 Street Improvements Project with Maymead Inc. of Mountain City, Tenn. The project will include Winter Flake Drive, Georgie Street (Massey Street to the north end); and Rumple Street (East Thomas to Hwy 21).
Because asphalt costs are currently significantly lower because of postponed road projects throughout the state, the council will also consider adding paving of expanded ESC parking ($337,384) to the street project for a total cost of $463,634.
Both were budgeted for this fiscal year, but council members wanted to monitor COVID-19 effects on revenues before moving forward with the ESC parking.
♦ Continuation of discussion of a petition for relief from a January 23, 2018, Zoning Administrator Determination by Dallas Norman regarding his property at 117 Trackside Road. Norman told the council in August that he cannot move forward with obtaining necessary permits or continue with plans for his property until clearcutting violations are remedied or until January 23, 2023 when the determination expires.
♦ Consideration of two grant applications to assess the town’s water and sewer collection system (Water System Inventory and Assessment Funding and Sewer Collection System Inventory and Assessment Funding).
These grants would help pay for extensive GIS mapping and analysis of the town’s water and sewer system to improve the Public Works Department’s efficiency, assist developers in locating infrastructure, and help plan for future capital needs as the town grows.
♦ Consideration of an annexation request for property at 735 Perth Road to complete the Calvin Creek subdivision annexation.
♦ Consideration of a new Town of Troutman Facility Rental & Special Event Application and of amendments to Policy #7 Governing the Use of the Town Hall Meeting Room, Policy #38 Park Rules and Regulations, Policy #47 Governing Use of Troutman ESC Park Pavilion, Policy #48 Troutman Farmer’s Market Rules and Guidelines, and the Town of Troutman Schedule of Fees.
♦ Consider approval of building façade for the Redwood-Troutman development.
♦ Recognition of Troutman Police Officers: Tim Perdue, Daniel Bova, and Jonathan Lyon.