BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

Troutman Council members addressed recent criticism about town growth and infrastructure during the council’s agenda briefing on Monday afternoon, correcting a misinterpretation of a state law and defending the town’s water and sewer system.

A recent citizen editorial called for a “moratorium” on new residential construction in southern Iredell County, citing NC Statute 160-D.

However, the statute only allows a moratorium on commercial — not residential — construction and only then for a short period for a specific reason, such as updating the Unified Development Ordinance, according to Town Attorney Gary Thomas and Town Planner Lynne Hair.

Town Manager Ron Wyatt noted that the opinion piece had a lot of factual issues and has no liability for the writer. “The bad thing is that it does incite citizens to then accuse us about why aren’t we doing this or that,” he said.

Another social media rumor, brought up by Mayor Pro Tem Paul Henkel, is that the town’s water and sewer infrastructure is heading toward a crisis after a recent water main issue. Wyatt strongly denied the rumor, citing system breaks that happen every day in cities across the country.

Wyatt noted the town had applied for and received significant grant funding for upgrades that have been completed or are underway. He said the town is also implementing a new policy that pump stations will be built by the town and reimbursed by the developers to ensure similar, quality equipment is used.

The town is also moving to gravity systems where possible to eliminate pump stations.

“We are not in crisis nor are we heading toward crisis,” Wyatt said emphatically, noting it is just like when things break in a home. “Repairs and breaks are normal.”

Mayor Teross Young noted that the town’s sewer and water system gets top grades every year from the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. “The staff works hard to maintain and improve the system,” he said.

COMBINE BOARDS?

Thomas recently attended a training session in which he learned many municipalities are combining the Planning and Zoning Board and the Board of Adjustment. Wyatt noted that several Board of Adjustment meetings have been cancelled because the members lacked a quorum.

Wyatt said the positives of the move would be a larger pool of board members and more in-depth knowledge of the issues before the board. The only negative would be if the Planning and Zoning Board denied a project that the council later approved, the applicant would have to appeal for the variance before the same group that denied it.

The mayor pointed out that the Board of Adjustment is quasi-judicial and completely statute, fact, and evidence-based. Personal opinions or feelings or project conditions are not allowed by either the applicant or the board, which is very different than how the planning board works.

Wyatt and Hair said that if the plan to combine went forward, the Planning and Zoning Board would require extensive training on the very different roles and procedures of the Board of Adjustment.

Wyatt also noted the town has legal liability for the Board of Adjustment’s decisions.

Several council members expressed concerns about combining the boards and instead suggested the time of the Board of Adjustment’s meetings (3 p.m.) be moved to the evening to perhaps get more board members present.

Others said that members of both boards should be polled about their feelings on combining the boards since some planning members may not want to have dual roles, even though the Board of Adjustment meets infrequently.

The council will continue discussions after further investigation.

FOOD TRUCKS

Council member Eddie Nau also asked council members to consider revisiting food truck ordinances to address trucks that are parked in the same spot each day. These trucks, he said, have an advantage over brick and mortar restaurants that pay property taxes to the town.

Nau clarified that he was not referring to festivals or events with food trucks but rather daily repeaters.

Hair noted the ordinance allows a food truck with a transient permit to return to the same spot as long as it is moved each evening. A temporary use permit is available for short periods for those that stay parked.

Wyatt noted the town did collect permit fees and received sales tax revenue from the trucks.

TRANSPORTATION UPDATE

Traffic lights are going up at Talley and Main Street in the next 45 days and at State Park Road and Perth Road by early spring, reported Associate Planner Andrew Ventresca.

He also reported that the downtown sidewalk project on portions of Talley, Wagner and Rumple streets is moving forward. A design consultant has been selected, and the contract is being reviewed by NCDOT.

After approval, the project will be designed and sent to NCDOT for approval. Right of way must also be acquired before the project can be built.

Ventresca added that the federally funded project funnels money to the NCDOT and then to the town, adding to the red tape.

The greenway extension from the Troutman Depot to Byers Road was approved by the NCDOT to move forward last fall. Kimley-Horn is the design team, with the July 27 contract still under NCDOT review.

The same design, NCDOT approval, right of way acquisition, and construction process will occur with this project as well.

The new Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan, paid for by a 2020 grant, is up on the town’s website for review. NCDOT is now reviewing the plan before staff can bring it to the Planning and Zoning Board for recommendation and the council for adoption.

A new Troutman Mobility Plan, to be paid for by a $96,000 grant, will replace the 2009 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. This study will examine roadways and intersections to determine alternate ways to get traffic moving.

NCDOT is reviewing the project’s contract with RS&H Architects-Engineers-Planners, which is on the council’s consent agenda on Thursday night. This company just completed Iredell County’s transportation plan, so it has familiarity with Troutman’s road system.

Ventresca also announced the town has received $5,000 worth of bike parking racks and a bike repair station. He plans to put the bike repair station, which has wrenches attached to cables, a tire pump, and other handy tools, in ESC Park, with racks distributed where they make sense throughout town.

In other news, Ventresca said the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization has been discussing an unsolicited bid to extend toll roads from the end of the current toll roads at John Belk Freeway to the South Carolina line.

NEW CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

The council also met Shane Harris, the town’s new full-time code enforcement office, who is currently training with staff and learning the town. He is currently addressing all nuisance complaints and will take over housing procedures after completing his training.

UPCOMING THURSDAY NIGHT

♦ An annexation request for Rocky Creek Commercial of 1.17 acres at 778 South Main Street and a rezoning request from Iredell County-Residential Agricultural to Town of Troutman Highway Business.

♦ An annexation request of 28.3 acres for the River Rock development on Perth Road and rezoning from Iredell County Single Family Residential to Town of Troutman Conditional Zoning-Mixed Residential.

♦ Set a public hearing for an annexation request for Shinn Farms, including a 149-acre parcel on Weathers Creek Road and a 127-acre parcel at 773 Houston Road (total acreage: 276.26) for the November 10 council meeting.

♦ Budget amendment for the Troutman Police Department for capital outlay for police vehicles ($66,296.00) and rollover of unused funds from last fiscal year ($18,921.00) to purchase two F150 trucks and two Dodge Chargers and associated police equipment.

♦ Hear standing quarterly reports from J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library, Troutman Fire Department, and Troutman ABC Store.

♦ Consideration of the facade for a Dollar General at 1060 Charlotte Highway.

♦ Consideration of the Troutman Mobility Plan Agreement for Professional Services between the Town of Troutman and RS&H Architects-Engineers-Planners Inc.

1 thought on “Troutman Council responds to criticisms, considers changes to boards and food truck policy

  1. The Suggestion to merge the Board of Adjustments with the planning board is a bad idea, further consolidating power and control with too few people. Of course you can’t get a quorum for a meeting at 3 in the afternoon! Move the meetings to the evening, or better yet, make them virtual so more people could easily attend, including the taxpayers in the general public. Move along into the 21st century. Don’t reduce public participation.

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