Troutman Council addresses code issues, upcoming zoning and annexation requests
CORRECTION: This article has been amended to correct an error in an earlier version. In that version, a statement made by Mayor Teross Young during Monday's meeting was incorrectly attributed to Council member Paul Henkel. We apologize for this error.
BY DEBBIE PAGE
During its preagenda meeting on Monday afternoon, Troutman Town Council members discussed upcoming zoning issues and progress on subdivision fire-access talks with the county’s fire marshal. They also discussed stricter enforcement of some code violations as well as the possible creation of an ordinance to punish owners who do not clean up after their pets.
At the September preagenda meeting, real estate broker Howard Bryan spoke to the council about a change in applying subdivision rules that caused MI Homes, which had invested significant money and acquired the council’s permission to rezone the site, to back out of its contract on a land-locked 74-acre tract off Crosstie Lane behind Iredell Charter School.
Howard said nothing in Troutman’s current Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) requires two access street points. One entrance developments with stub-outs to future roads have been permitted in the county for many years. However, County Fire Marshal David Souther refused to allow the MI Homes subdivision to go forward without two completed street access points.
Since no wording was changed in state building code or fire ordinances for the past 25 years, Bryan questioned this sudden change of requirements on this piece of property, which cannot support two entrances because adjacent landowners refuse to sell a portion of their land to construct a second access.
State statute says that developments of over 30 homes must have a second entrance or have connectivity to future development. Bryan noted that Iredell County subdivision ordinances only say that developments have to provide connectivity, or stub-outs to future developments, as does Troutman’s UDO.
Town Planner Erika Martin updated council members on the progress of resolving this access issue since the September meeting in order to develop this site as well as to clarify the ordinances for other future subdivisions as well.
Martin presented a proposed fire-access ordinance to be considered at the Thursday night council meeting that requires developments of up to 30 homes have one access. Those with 31 or more homes must have four points of access (preferably at the north, south, east, and west sides), which can include stub-outs for future connectivity.
However, the town’s Technical Review Committee, made up of Martin, the town engineer, and a Public Works Department representative, “reserves the right to allow other alternatives if additional physical connections cannot be made at the time of development and/or the four cardinal directions cannot be met due to topography.”
Alternatives could include fire apparatus access roads or stub-outs constructed to town road standards to efficiently connect to future development on adjacent tracts.
Martin stressed that the town values multiple access points to provide emergency access and to alleviate traffic congestion.
Martin is also working with the county on an interlocal agreement so that the Fire Marshal can still do fire safety work in the town with the adoption of these changes. She hopes the document will be complete for the council’s perusal by the November preagenda meeting.
Council member Paul Henkel was pleased that stubs would be acceptable under the proposed ordinance changes to avoid losing another subdivision. “We’re giving ourselves some wiggle room,” he said.
Three developers have contacted Martin expressing appreciation that the town is working on this issue. “They feel that this is a change in interpretation of an ordinance that’s been around forever,” she said.
Mayor Teross Young emphasized that the town does not want to be at odds with the fire marshal, instead desiring to work in partnership on an reasonable compromise.
Town staff are compiling a report of property code violations and charges collected if the town has to rectify the violation if the property owner fails to act after warnings. If the owner refuses to pay the town, the town will place a lien on the property to collects its costs.
Several council members also noted the need to work on improving enforcement against grass clippings in the street. Staff members currently take pictures of reported grass violations, but some get missed if staff members are absent or taking care of other town business. Citizens can also send in pictures of violations through the 311 system.
Council member Paul Bryant also received a number of complaints about pet owners not cleaning up after their dogs. He asked that the council to consider creating an ordinance that fines owners who fail to scoop.
The problem exists throughout community, not just at the greenway or park, according to Bryant. Some folks just walk away and unfairly leave the mess for others to clean up.
Martin will research other towns’ ordinances or the county’s requirements on this issue.
On Thursday the council will consider rezoning 134 Eastway Drive from Town Residential to Office and Institutional. Robert Kennedy wishes to turn the single-family dwelling on nearly one-half acre into an antique store.
The Planning and Zoning Board approved the request 4-2, with Mike Todd and Randy Farmer dissenting. Martin said the change would be consistent with the town’s 2035 Future Land Use Plan and that town staff supports the change.
Council members discussed several areas of concern about repeated violations at the Kennedy’s property next door, which has had repeated outdoor sales. They also expressed concerns about lack of parking area and possible further infractions with outdoor sales.
Mayor Young asked council members to consider if this was the right time to start implementing the 2035 Future Land Use Plan in rezoning this property to Office/Institutional since the upcoming Highway 21 corridor plan will change Eastway Drive into the northbound lanes through Troutman in the next five to 10 years.
Henkel thought this change would be a “baby step” in that direction, noting that since council created the 2035 plan, i should follow it. Henkel added that this area has been seen for decades as turning to commercial and that the council cannot act “willy nilly” since they would risk opening the door for other objections.
Young added that if violations occurred in the future at the property, the town could rectify the situation with other measures under current ordinances. “Both properties are an eyesore,” the mayor said.
Henkel adding this rezoning was a way to address complaints and take Kennedy’s business inside.
“I’d hate to see us block this rezoning because of something they may or not do,” said Henkel. “Those are two separate issues.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Mayor Young announced the receipt of $39,700.80 from Powell Bill money from the state which can be used for street resurfacing, the maintenance, construction or widening of roads, or the construction of sidewalks or greenways.
Martin said the greenway to SIHS will be complete in 15 to 30 days. Crews are putting on finishing touches, constructing islands, and creating the high visibility crosswalks across Old Mountain Road. Young suggested “Pedestrians in crosswalk have right of way” signs be added to improve safety.
Henkel noted that the town is taking measures to prevent vehicles from entering the greenway section between Food Lion and the fairgrounds. Some drivers used the area as a short cut during the fair week in September.
Town Manager Justin Longino is waiting for a second bid to come in on painting the town’s water tower with the recently adopted logo. Council will consider both bids at the November meeting.
The mayor praised the Rotary Chili Cook-off at the fairgrounds on September 30. He thanked the staff for its support to pull the event off and reported positive comments from both Troutman residents and non-residents. He hopes the event will return to Troutman next year.
Bryant praised the Milton Tucker fundraiser at ESC Park last Saturday, saying that the town continues to serve the community through its amenities to provide a valuable service. “To see everyone in town come out to support this gentleman was touching," he said. "It shows the heart of this community.”
Longino also announced plans for interested council members to go on police ride-alongs to enhance their understanding of the department and community issues.
THURSDAY MEETING AGENDA ITEMS
• Recognition of former Troutman resident James Russell Lauderdale’s induction into the N.C Music Hall of Fame.
• Proclamation of October as Domestic Violence Month.
• Education Spotlight on the Career Academy and Technical School (CATS).
• Request from South Iredell High School for approval of its Homecoming Parade on Main Street on Tuesday, October 17, at 6 p.m.
• Consideration of a text amendment to the UDO regarding waiving variance fees for a request not caused by the applicant.
• Consideration of a change to the Troutman’s Parks and Recreation Committee rules of procedure to allow two alternate members rather than the current single alternate.
• Consideration of appointments to the Bicycle-Pedestrian Steering Committee.
• Consideration of a resolution to investigate an annexation request and set a public hearing for the non-contiguous annexation of 99 acres on Simpson Road adjacent to the Sutter’s Mill subdivision. Developers are planning a new phase of Sutter’s Mill using the same rules as the current subdivision.