BY DEBBIE PAGE

The Troutman Town Council opened its agenda briefing on Monday by praising the Parks and Recreation Department and other town staff for their work during the recent Party in the Park, Independence Day Parade, and Independence Day Festival.

Town Manager Ron Wyatt said it was impossible to choose an employee of the month for July because all staff went above and beyond for these events as well as during the transitions in utility billing and trash/recycling services.

Wyatt also shared several updates, saying that applications and interviewing for the code enforcement and planning department positions were underway.

He informed council that the house at 135 Ruffin Loop, slated for demolition by the town, has been sold and will be demolished by the new owner.

The transition to a new utility billing company in July suffered some hiccups because of employee vacations at that company, causing water bills to be delayed. Wyatt said the bills have been mailed, with most customers receiving them by this past weekend.

Because of the delay, Wyatt said “the due dates have been adjusted accordingly.”

REPUBLIC TRASH CART REMOVAL

Many town residents have been frustrated by Republic Services’ failure to pick up rollout carts following the switch to Waste Pro on July 1. Some residents have had the carts at their curbs awaiting pick up for weeks.

The town made the change after Republic sharply increased rates with no notice after last year’s budget had already been set, causing the town to absorb the costs.

Wyatt said staff has fielded over 700 calls about the cart pickup issue and has contacted Republic, whose representative said its staff was “overwhelmed” with the task of retrieving them.

Republic also mistakenly picked up some rollouts that were on business or county residents’ properties, which do not receive town waste services. Wyatt said they would have to contact Republic to get their rollout carts returned.

Wyatt is talking with the Town Attorney Gary Thomas about the legality of the town picking carts up and disposing of them if they are not picked up by a set time and charging Republic a fee for doing so.

Republic committed to have all carts picked up before July 1, and Wyatt is concerned about possible public health hazards from garbage sitting in rollouts for weeks.

Wyatt praised Waste Pro for its customer service and responsiveness in the transition.

CEDAR STUMP PUB

After an hour-long discussion, the council voted 4-0 (Felina Harris absent) to request that Cedar Stump Pub immediately cease and desist use of town property after concerns of town liability continue. Wyatt had issued a cease and desist order in April to take effect on June 1.

Council member Eddie Nau said a citizen provided pictures and reported recent use of the outdoor stage area, built on what is now town property during the pandemic, up until midnight.

At the June Town Council meeting, Jeremy Shaw, owner of Cedar Stump Pub, asked the council to approve either a sale or lease to the building’s owner of either .06 acres on which the pub’s outdoor stage stands or of the larger parcel behind the building that includes the stage.

Shaw and the previous owner of the current passport building and the adjoining lot discovered that Shaw’s business was encroaching on the property after a survey prior to its being listed for sale. A lease for the stage area was drawn up with the previous owner but was not executed before the property’s sale to the town.

The town also discovered that the back part of this property was zoned residential while the passport office area is zoned for business use. For Shaw to use the proposed leased property, it would have to be rezoned for business use.

Wyatt and council members also had concerns about insurance liability as well as the sale of alcohol on town-owned property that may violate town policy and the UDO, both of which would need to be addressed.

Wyatt also noted that selling the property could interfere with the future redirection of Wagner Street and the proposed Lytton Street connection.

Town Attorney Gary Thomas suggested that Shaw immediately acquire a $2.5 million liability policy (currently at $1 million) and name the town as a protected entity to meet League of Municipalities protection suggestions. He also advised Shaw to get a survey of both property sections under consideration for lease or sell, if council approves.

The council voted to accept Thomas’s suggestions and continue discussion of the matter in July after all parties gather more information. Shaw was to immediately raise the liability to $2.5 million and get documentation to the town, but he has yet to deliver that documentation or respond to Wyatt’s email.

Wyatt said he did receive documentation that the town was added to the current $1 million liability policy. He also noted that Shaw did not acquire a town building permit to build the stage and that the council had seen no proof that the building’s owner is even willing to buy or lease the property in question.

Wyatt said the business’s “nonconforming” use of the property put the town at higher liability risk because it knew of the nonconforming use but was tolerating it.

Council member Nick Jaroszynski has spoken to Shaw, who said a rewrite of the liability policy is underway but is taking time and adding additional expense.

Council members noted that they had no desire to hinder any small businesses’ operation but had an obligation to protect taxpayers from possible liability claims if someone was hurt on the property in question.

Expressing unease at the town’s liability situation, council members voted for the property to be off limits to Cedar Stump customers until the lease or sell agreement, rezoning, and alcohol consumption ordinance issues are completed or the council rejects the sale or lease of the property and required dismantling of the stage area.

Shaw is scheduled to appear before the council on Thursday night to continue discussions on the issue.

SHERMILL LANE REZONING REQUEST

The council will hear a rezoning Request by Atlas Principals for 13.55 acres located at 129 and 131 Shermill Lane from suburban residential to conditional mixed residential zoning.

Citing the citizens’ desire for Highway 21 south residential to be medium density in the town’s recent Future Land Use Map revision, the Troutman Planning and Zoning Board unanimously opposed a rezoning request in May for a 49-unit townhome development at the site.

Originally, 80 units with two-car garages were planned for the site, but after speaking to former Town Planner Lynne Hair, developer Shawn Wilfong dropped the density to 49 1,700- to 2,400-square-foot units to achieve a 3.6 density, closer to the 2-3 single family homes currently allowed under suburban residential designation.

This drop in density would leave 55 percent of the property undeveloped, with plans for walking trails to be added in this area. Only 10 percent is required under the Unified Development Ordinance.

Assistant Planner Andrew Ventresca told the planning board that the requested mixed residential zoning can rise to 12 units per acre, but the conditional approval would hold developers to 3.62. He noted a perimeter buffer is planned around the property.

The area is transitioning to non-single-family residential uses, added Ventresca, saying staff recommended approval of the request.

Several neighbors spoke against the project, citing already heavy traffic and too much development occurring in the area.

Planning board members questioned the lack of a turn lane, traffic mitigations, and the lack of agreement with the Future Land Use Map, the creation of which had extensive public input.

Karen Van Vliet made the motion to deny recommendation, with Darryl Hall seconding.

“The community has clearly stated that they wish this area to be medium-density detached homes with no more than two to three units per acre,” she said.

Van Vliet added the board has a duty to uphold what the community is asking for, and by doing that, reducing the amount of traffic and any impact on schools.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also on Thursday night, the council will:

♦ Hear the Troutman ABC Store fiscal year 2023-2024 report;

♦ Consider façade approvals for Morris Stoneworks at 178 Julian Place and for Weathers Creek High School at 246 Weathers Creek Road as recommended by the Design Review Board.

♦ Consider approval of an interlocal agreement between the Town of Mooresville, the Town of Davidson, the Town of Troutman, the City of Statesville, the Town of Cornelius, the Town of Huntersville, and the County of Iredell, creating the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission.

Leave a Reply