BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

Troutman Town Council had a packed agenda on Thursday night, including consideration of a large mixed-use development, a request for relief from a zoning administrator determination, a bid for street improvements and a parking lot at ESC Park, and a new rental process and fee schedule for town facilities.

SMITH VILLAGE REZONING APPROVED

The council unanimously approved annexation and two zoning requests to pave the way for the 68-acre Smith Village project on Charlotte Highway/US 21 at Crosstie Lane.

Prestige Corporate Development plans a mixed-use development with 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 of commercial space.

Several nearby residents expressed concerns about the project. Adjacent property owner Chris Cardwell was concerned about a property easement, with which Prestige’s Steve Bailey said he would abide.

Mike and Cathy Halter, who live on Flower House Loop, expressed concern about the development’s density, increased traffic, and buffer widths. They also asked that an access road not be built behind their home.

NORMAN RELIEF REQUEST

The council first voted 3-2 to reject Dallas Norman’s petition for relief from a January 23, 2018, Zoning Administrator Determination regarding his property at 117 Trackside Road before, reversing itself after Mayor Teross Young requested an unscheduled closed session near the end of the public meeting.

After the closed session, the council voted unanimously to reopen consideration of Paul Bryant’s motion to grant relief and then voted unanimously to grant it.

In a statement after the meeting, Young said, “There was some misunderstanding about what Paul’s motion would do, and that was cleared up. Council changed its mind in order to work with a local business and get compliance with the UDO.”

Norman’s request first came up at the August meeting when he told the council that he cannot move forward with obtaining necessary permits or continue with plans for his landscaping business until clearcutting violations are remedied or until January 23, 2023, when the determination expires.

Erika Martin, the town planner at the time, found that Norman clear cut trees from the property without a permit in 2017, resulting in the determination against him. Norman also admitted, under questioning from council member Sally Williams, that he had more recently enclosed the garage door side of an outbuilding without a permit.

Norman had letters from neighboring residential property owners who asked him to cut some of the trees, which endangered their property. He also constructed berms and added matching fencing to address one neighbor’s request for added privacy for his pool area.

Norman presented a site plan to the council, which cost him $5,000 to construct with an engineer and certified arborist, to address the loss of trees, which he said were mostly scrubby and undesirable.

Council members believed he should present a reforestation plan rather than a landscaping plan.

The landowner has also improved the property, removing thick brush, two dilapidated barns, an old car, and a decaying doublewide trailer.

After lengthy debate, council voted to table the decision until the September meeting.

This time, attorney Lisa Valdez and Darden Engineering’s Albert Schillinger represented Norman.

Valdez presented aerial photographs from the county’s GIS from 2017 and 2018 that showed that the property was not “clear cut” according to UDO and state definitions since only one-third of the trees were removed.

Because of that error, Valdez said the determination was inaccurate. Instead, Norman should have been penalized under section 12.4.1, which should have been addressed through planning staff helping him develop a site plan to replace what was removed, not through council action.

A “reforestation” plan, as required by the determination, was not required or appropriate, according to Valdez, which Town Attorney Gary Thomas affirmed. Thomas also stated that the UDO violation was an administrative matter not requiring council action.

Valdez also presented a 2019 sketch plan approved by former Town Planner George Berger for other changes made to the property, including upfitting the existing house as an office and the construction of bunkers to hold landscaping materials.

Schillinger explained the revised site plan, improved since August with added suggestions by Berger. Interim Planner Jonathan Wells said the plan was an “acceptable basis” to meet UDO landscaping and buffering requirements.

Bryant made a motion, which Paul Henkel seconded, to accept the presented site plan, let Norman complete it, have Wells inspect the property for adherence to the plan, and then remove the determination so Norman can move forward with his business.

The motion was defeated 3-2.

After the vote, Williams replied to Norman’s question that his only recourse was to wait until 2023 for the determination to expire. Valdez and Schillinger then escorted an upset Norman from the chamber.

During public officials comments at the end of the meeting, Young asked for a vote to go into an unplanned closed session, after which the vote reversal occurred.

STREET IMPROVEMENT/ESC PARK PARKING

The council unanimously approved 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).

Expanded ESC parking at a cost of $337,384 was also approved in conjunction with the street project for a total combined cost of $463,634.

Both were budgeted for this fiscal year, but council members wanted to monitor COVID-19 effects on the budget before moving forward. Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck said the bids were favorable with current lower asphalt and paving costs and recommended both bids be accepted.

Gruesbeck felt the town’s revenue streams were sufficient to move forward.

Council member Eddie Nau requested that town staff inspect all work to ensure it was done to standard, and Gruesbeck suggested West Consultants be utilized for this quality assurance.

OFFICER RECOGNITION

Officer Daniel Bova receives his Intermediate Law Enforcement Certificate from the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission from Police Chief Tina Fleming.

Police Chief Tina Fleming recognized several officers at Thursday’s meeting. She commended Officer Daniel Bova for recently earning his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Bova is continuing his studies by pursuing his master’s degree in Public Administration.

Bova, who serves as the department’s field training officer, also received his Intermediate Law Enforcement Certificate from the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. He earned the designation by earning his degree, eight training points, and completing three years of law enforcement experience.

Fleming also introduced Jonathan Lyon, who joined the department as a full-time patrol officer. He has seven years experience and is currently enrolled in the criminal justice associate’s degree program at Mitchell Community College.

Tim Perdue, who as 23 years of experience, rejoined the department as a part-time officer in July after previously serving with TPD from 2008-2018. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and is the department’s lead firearms instructor.

Perdue, who also works as an American Airlines pilot, missed the meeting because his flight was delayed.

REVISED RENTAL POLICIES

Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson, concerned about gaps and issues emerging from town facility rentals in the past few years, undertook a review and revamp of the process to improve rental operation.

“Currently, our paperwork process to collect the necessary information, uphold standards, communicate mandated parameters, appropriately staff, gauge community impact, and regulate cost recovery of facility rentals and community events falls short,” stated Watson.

“In an effort to streamline our paperwork process, the two forms have been merged to one, and the updated form collects the needed information to better plan and execute a properly organized event.”

The rental policy updates also required revisions 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.

The new eight-page “Facility Rental and Special Event Application,” due at least 30 days before an event, outlines rules for the various rental locations, including the ESC Park Pavilion, the Depot, the Council Chambers, and soccer and baseball fields.

The new policy requires that no event can be advertised until fully it has ben approved by the town.

New rules also require rental of four portable toilets for every 250 people expected at a special event as well as trash removal, a parking plan, street cleaning (if necessary), and permission for display of signs or banners.

Two officers are also required for each 250 people expected at an event and must be arranged by the renter.

The town does not provide amenities such as portable toilets, sound systems, stages, tables, chairs, canopies, golf carts, or other equipment.

Music amplification must adhere to town guidelines, and stage contractor information must be provided. Tent sizes must be reported to staff, and tents must be permitted by the Iredell County Fire Marshal if over 800 square feet. Inflatable and mechanical ride contractors must have at least $1 million in liability insurance.

Hazardous items like propane heaters, grills, and fryers must be at least 20 feet from town structures.

Vendor lists, any required Iredell County Health Department permits for food sellers, and overall site plans for an event are also required.

For walk/run/cycle events, organizers must have a certificate of insurance if the route starts or finishes on town property. Routes must be approved, volunteers organized, parking planned, and street closures requested.

Alcohol (unless it is a town-sponsored event) and tobacco use are prohibited. Fireworks and firearms are prohibited unless properly permitted.

Fees were also adjusted, with a $50 cleaning deposit now required for any town rental.

For special events, the cleaning deposit is $100 for each 250 people expected. The staff attendant fee is $100, rising to $200 for an event over five hours. Security from off-duty officers is $25 per hour.

The council unanimously approved the changes to the revised application, town policies, and fee schedule in a grouped motion.

OTHER ACTION

The council also approved:

♦ 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.

An annexation request for property at 735 Perth Road to complete the Calvin Creek subdivision annexation.

The building façade for the Redwood-Troutman apartment home development.

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