BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council dispatched a light agenda on Thursday night, presenting fundraiser proceeds, approving an annexation request, choosing an auditing firm, accepting grant funds, and selecting a committee to revise the Future Land Use Plan.
During the public comment period, Johnny Edwards spoke about the rampant development and his concern that with interest rates rising, many first-time buyers are being locked out. He worried that if building stops with a possible recession, areas being clear-cut on Perth or Autumn Leaf roads could end up being dust and erosion hazards.
In the future, Edwards requested the town consider requiring overseeding of any property that will not be built on to prevent run-off that makes area waterways murky.
Town Manager Ron Wyatt told Edwards that the staff is already addressing clear-cutting issues by creating ordinances to stop such actions in future. The staff is also working with county departments to supervise disturbed soil areas to eliminate erosion and run-off.
“We want to stop it from getting worse. Several project sites are not in compliance in our view,” said Wyatt.
Alan Hale spoke about the thick dust issues on his property and asked for a county contact to address the erosion issues. Hale lives 200 yards from an Old Murdock Farm area development and has had to vacuum red silt that settles in his pool each day.
“Wind erosion is just as big an issue as water. There are no measures other than silt fence on this property,” added Hale.
Wyatt advised Hale to contact Matthew Todd with the county to express his concerns.
♦ Mayor Teross Young presented proceeds from the April 2 Second Chance Prom fundraiser to ACEing Autism, an affordable tennis education program for special needs youths, and Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center, which works with parents and children with special needs, free of cost.
♦ Developers of the Troutman Townes project on South Eastway Drive requested a delay in council consideration to have time to modify the site plan to attempt to meet the lower density of current zoning. Planning Department staff and the Planning and Zoning Board recommended against the project.
Councilman Paul Henkel made a motion to deny the request because the presented plan did not follow the Future Land Use Map and the developers did not take staff advice. However, Town Attorney Gary Thomas said from a legal standpoint, the council must either grant the delay of the hearing or send it back to the Planning and Zoning Board, which caused Henkel to withdraw his motion
Mayor Teross Young requested that any new plan created be sent back to the Planning and Zoning Board for consideration before coming back to council.
♦ The council passed the staff-recommended non-contiguous annexation and rezoning request for .47 acres on Lexus Drive from Iredell County control and zoning to Troutman Highway Business to clean up zoning around the Wendy’s area and to get Lexus Drive under town control and standards.
♦ Council selected Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams and Company, an auditing firm from Whiteville, to conduct the town’s annual fiscal year 2022-2023 audit.
Wyatt and Town Finance Director Justin Mundy recommended this firm, although its bid was not the least expensive, because the other firms submitting bids had some detrimental issues in their view.
♦ Council passed a budget amendment for acquisition of property located at 344 North Eastway Drive ($351,815).
♦ Council accepted the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality offer of $2,445,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) grant funding to perform the 2022 Wastewater Capacity Improvements Project.
Mundy put out a request for consulting bids for the project, with only one bid coming in from West Consultants. The council approved acceptance of the bid.
* The council approved appointments to the Future Land Use Map Advisory Committee: George Harris, Jerry Oxsher, Paul Bryant, Leyton Getsinger, Mike Todd, Helen Harris, Karen Van Vliet, Rydell Cowan, Wes Edmiston, Aaron Larson, Mary Starks, Parker Nicholson, and Mark Michel.
The initial committee meeting will be during the third week of May t o begin discussions with Planning Department staff about Future Land Use Map revision and to address rapid area growth. The first of several public input sessions is planned for June.
A final revision of the plan is expected to be presented for council consideration this fall.
♦ The council set June 9 annexation hearing requests for 103.54 acres on Autumn Leaf Road and Byers Road for the Autumn Leaf West project, 88.58 acres for the Houston Road industrial development, and 17.861 acres at Charlotte Highway and Lexus Drive for Solid Rock Ventures project, a grocery store anchored shopping center near Lowe’s.
♦ The council recognized Teacher Appreciation Week from last week, Law Enforcement Appreciation coming up next week, and Tourette’s Awareness Month (May 15- June 15) to destigmatize Tourette Syndrome, educate the general public about TS looks like, and dispel some myths that surround it.
♦ Parks and Recreation Director Chip Smith reminded community members about several upcoming events, including the Red and Blue 5K on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Troutman Depot and the Saturday, May 21, Party in the Park from 4 to 7 p.m. at ESC Park.
Several sports camps in conjunction with South Iredell High School for students in grades K – 8 will start June 20.
Details for all events are posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TroutmanESCPark.
♦ Town Planner Lynne Hair said three projects will be on the Planning and Zoning meeting agenda on May 23 at 7:00 p.m.
These include rezoning 103.54 acres on Autumn Leaf Road and Byers Road for 300 home Autumn Leaf West project, 88.58 acres for the Houston Road industrial development (680,000 feet of distribution space), and 17.861 acres at Charlotte Highway and Lexus Drive for the Solid Rock Ventures project, a grocery store anchored shopping center near Lowes.
Hair also said the department has already issued 300 permits in the first four months of this year, already exceeding last year’s record of 300 total.
Hair said consultant bids are in to revise and update the town’s comprehension transportation plan using recently awarded grant money. They expect to select a consultant in the next week.
♦ Police Chief Watson updated council with the latest Troutman crime statistics from the federal database for the period of January through April. Assaults rose to 29 from 12 last year during the same period, a total increase of 141 percent.
Larceny offenses for the first four months were up 107 percent, rising from 14 to 29, with frauds up 116 percent (6 to 13). Watson noted “the reason for these increases are one – the department has adopted standardized policies for taking reports to ensure all incidents are documented where they were not always before, which has led to more incidents being reported. Two, the U.S. is also seeing a crime increase nationwide.”
Even with the increases, Watson noted, “The town remains extremely safe and has a very low violent crime rate compared to surrounding municipalities.”
The department answered 243 calls in April, made 12 arrests, conducted 112 traffic stops, executed 620 patrols of neighborhoods, businesses and schools, and took 39 incident reports.
Watson has instituted foot patrols to increase visibility and created community engagement with youths and parents with a weekly preschool reading program at the library.
He also reminded the community about the Red and Blue 5K, with the proceeds being donated to the First Responders Children’s Foundation and Firefighters Burn Children’s Fund.
♦ Wyatt reported that the six- to eight-week budget construction process is coming to a close after multiple meetings and strategic planning sessions to assess needs and create a balanced budget.
He noted that though ad valorem taxes rates will not change, monthly fee increases for some services were necessary to cover town costs. Some “extra,” non-state required services have not been fully self-funding because rates have not increased in decades in some cases.
Once finalized, the 2022-23 budget proposal will be publicly posted and a public hearing held in June for the public to give its input in the process.