BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Finance Director Steve Shealy reported Monday that town revenues continue to be strong despite the economic turndown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
January sales tax collection was up just over $10,000 over last year, and property tax collection was up nearly $82,000 over the same month in 2020, Shealy told the town council during Monday’s pre-agenda meeting. However, water and sewer billing was down just under $2,000.
“We are in a good financial position compared to a year ago,” Shealy said.
He explained fluctuations in the water and sewer billing come from varying meter reading dates, major rain events, and usage changes.
After consulting with the Planning and Zoning Board and conducting further research, Interim Town Planner Jonathan Wells brought back three suggested courses of action on the question of goats being allowed in the town limits.
One alternative is to consider drafting an ordinance to allow temporary goat grazing to control invasive vegetation. Another is to draft an ordinance to allow goats as pets, and the final one is to consider amending the town’s Unified Code of Ordinance (UDO) and Code of Ordinances to resolve current conflicts and to address inconsistencies in having horses in town limits.
Wells reported neither Mooresville nor Statesville have ordinances controlling the harboring of animals, with both deferring to the Iredell County animal control ordinance. Wells said this was a possible solution for Troutman but would require a resolution passed by council to give the county agency authority in Troutman.
Animal Control deals primarily with animal safety or nuisance matters and does not specify under what circumstances animals are kept or how they are used for vegetation control.
Wells suggested the town establish standards for keeping goats or horses in the town limits or ETJ, including acreage requirements that provide humane conditions for the animals. He said the Cooperative Extension Service recommends 1 to 2 acres of land for a horse and 6 to 8 goats per acre.
Fencing requirements, with setbacks from the road and other properties should also be regulated, according to Wells. He also suggested consequences for unsanitary conditions and inhumane treatment of animals.
If the council allows goat grazing, Wells suggested the ordinance limit the number of grazing periods as well as confining goat grazing to the growing seasons.
After determining that council members had no complaints about animal regulation under language in the previous UDO, Town Manager Ron Wyatt asked council members to allow him and Wells to work on creating an ordinance using previous UDO language as former Town Planner Erika Martin intended to do but left the job before completing it.
After council member George Harris objected to having any livestock in town limits, Town Attorney Gary Thomas suggested a section prohibiting livestock followed by a section that allows temporary uses or exceptions to simplify the ordinance.
The council also heard a number of updates on previously discussed issues:
South Iredell High School Greenway Cost Overrun
Council member Eddie Nau asked for an update on cost overruns on the SIHS Greenway after the NCDOT indicated it would refuse about $50,000 in reimbursements, citing inadequate or incorrect testing.
Wyatt said Kessel Engineering Group was in talks with NCDOT about the testing, which was beyond requirements and accepted from the Mooresville lab in the past. The company has also done additional testing to mitigate NCDOT concerns.
Town negotiations with both Kessel and Country Boy, who reportedly failed to get soil samples in one section, are ongoing in the matter.
Shealy reported In December that the South Iredell Greenway Project could cost the town an additional $50,000. The state said because the town is ultimately responsible for the project, it must absorb the cost of the error.
Shealy said each party was blaming the other for the error. Thomas advised the council to vote to send the pay application to NCDOT, with a letter explaining that the two companies bear responsibility for the errors, to see what it will actually pay.
If some financial loss falls back on the town, the council will then have the documentation to ask Country Boy and Kessel for reimbursement for costs related to their errors.
Shealy has sent the payment application to the state and is waiting for its response.
Stump Dumps Illegal
After new council member Felina Harris asked about the legality of Land Clearing/Inert Debris (LCID) dumps, Wyatt informed the council that these “stump dumps” were illegal in Troutman in the UDO.
One illegally operating dump was officially notified of the violation and is being fined. Another stump dump south of the town limits/ETJ is also operating but is in the county’s jurisdiction. The county has been notified about the five complaints Wyatt received about this illegal operation.
160D UDO Revisions
The N.C. General Assembly passed new Chapter 160D Local Planning and Development Regulations two years ago that municipalities must incorporate into their UDO and Code of Ordinances by July 1.
Wells said the town contracted with Centralina Council of Governments to review and evaluate its UDO and ordinances and to align them with these new requirements. Changes are expected to be presented to the Planning and Zoning Board in March and to the council in April.
Because Troutman’s UDO is only two years old, Wells said he expects fewer changes. “We are in a good position compared to other cities,” he said.
Trackside Road Property Update
Wells reported that Dallas Norman completed perimeter plantings of 300 trees and shrubs as prescribed in the approved site plan, and as a result, Wells gave Norman relief from his five-year permit ban after he cleared the property without a town permit in 2017.
Norman is still working with Wells and the site engineer to improve the remainder of the site and install parking, driveway, and correct right-of-way issues.
THURSDAY NIGHT MEETING AGENDA
The council will:
♦ Hear a presentation about the Troutman Alternative Study to improve traffic issues in the town.
♦ Consider approval of the Town of Troutman Naming Rights Policy, Troutman ESC Park Softball/Baseball Fields Rules and Regulations, and Troutman Farmer’s Market Rules and Guidelines.
♦ Consider an amendment regulating the use of ESC Park, Troutman Depot Park, and the Troutman Greenway System.
♦ Consider a budget amendment for the purchase of two Public Works Department trucks at a cost of $49,614.
♦ Consider nominations to fill an inside alternate seat and an ETJ seat on the Board of Adjustment.
♦ Consider an appointment to fill the unexpired term of Ron Wyatt on the Troutman ABC Board.
♦ Recognition of Troutman Police Officers Kerry Baker (Career Academy Technical School SRO) and Justin Dagenhart (South Iredell High School SRO).
♦ Present a resolution recognizing Henry Alexander Young as an Eagle Scout.
♦ Proclaim February 2021 as Black History Month
♦ Recognition and presentation of certificates to Mayor Teross W. Young, council member Felina L. Harris, and the late Johnny Cavin (JC) Walker, Troutman Police Chief as part of Black History Month.
♦ Proclaim February 22, 2021, as Supermarket Employee Day.