Troutman Council selects Citizen of the Year
BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council has selected Layton Getsinger, chair of both the Troutman ABC Board and the Planning and Zoning Board, as Troutman’s Citizen of the Year.
The council has chosen The Sign Shop, operated by Carrie and Aaron Larson, as the Organization of the Year.
Nominated for the award by council members Judy Jablonski and Paul Henkel, Getsinger led the ABC Board as it tackled the huge task of creating, constructing, and opening the long-awaited Troutman store in a nine-month period. He has also led the Planning and Zoning Board during a period of rapid expansion in Troutman over the last few years.
Council member Sally Williams cited the years of the Larsons’ help with treat bags and sign donations to Troutman’s civic and sports-related events when nominating The Sign Shop.
The council will present the both awards at its May 11 meeting.
PLANNING AND ZONING ACTIONS
During Thursday's meeting, the council also voted on several matters related to planning and zoning requests and changes. Members unanimously rejected a request by Lana Campbell to rezone 205 Wagner Street from Office and Institutional to Central Business, following the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board over the recommendation of town staff.
Campbell, who is selling the property, was invited several years ago to change the zoning by the town after the completion of its 2035 Plan. However, the P & Z Board now wants West Street to serve as the boundary for the Central Business District to protect the residential block that begins next to the post office.
Campbell’s next door neighbor, Gerald Neel, expressed concern about the change, fearing that business interests could further encroach on the residential area. The council agreed, voting 5-0 to reject Campbell’s request.
Council member Paul Henkel apologized to Campbell for the town’s seeming about face.
“At the time, we thought it was a good idea to go a little beyond West Street (with the Central Business District), but since that time we have been rethinking that," Henkel said. "We did not mean to inconvenience you or to give you pause to think we are cuckoo up here.”
“We think that keeping that block residential is in the best interest of everyone for now. Ten years from now, it might be time to move forward,” concluded Henkel.
Mayor Teross Young concurred, saying most businesses are still permitted in the property’s current Office-Institutional zoning designation. “There’s a possibility that may change later down the road.”
The council next considered a text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to remove all caps from the number of units per row or building allowed in multi-family housing developments in Troutman.
The cap of eight units was only recently established, but Stantec, which is currently rewriting the UDO for Troutman, as well as the Planning and Zoning Board and town staff, are recommending the change to having no cap on the number of units allowed. Two currently proposed multi-family developments do not comply with this eight-unit restriction.
The site plan for the planned Eastway Drive/Winecoff Street apartments calls for 24 units per building. The Lytton Street project plans 12 units per building. The cap would “serve as an impediment to both proposed projects,” according to Town Planner Erika Martin. “The change will allow for flexibility in design based on density and lot layout.”
Henkel and Jablonski put the motion forward, but council member Paul Bryant asked members to pause before voting, advocating for a more cautious step-up approach to 24 units rather than completely abolishing the cap.
“We are all pleased to see these apartment buildings coming to town,” said Bryant. “They’ll bring to our town something that is greatly needed. Removing the eight-unit cap makes sense, but removing the cap altogether seems unnecessary at this time.”
He warned of an unlimited number of town homes that could come in the future, which “might become unwieldy or an eyesore.”
Henkel acknowledged Bryant’s concerns because “fear of the unknown is always there, but I am basing my vote on our consultant’s recommendations. Stantec has studied density, and at this point in time I am willing to put my faith in them.”
“This what we need to do to expand our multifamily and mixed-use housing, which we have very little of. Certainly, the demand is out there,” added Henkel.
Council members voted 4-1 to approve the change, with Bryant dissenting.
The council voted unanimously to approve UDO changes to industrial design standards to allow metal buildings as a primary building material with certain restrictions and to adjust parking ratios to one space per employee on the largest shift. They also voted 5-0 to approve reductions in setbacks for mixed residential developments.
The council also voted unanimously to set a hearing date of May 11 for the non-contiguous annexation of just over 71 acres of property between Lowe's and Iredell Charter School off Crosstie Lane at Exit 42.
Additionally, Martin announced that Taco Bell has renewed its building permit and will be breaking ground on its new store at Exit 42 soon.
Council member Jim Troutman asked that council members find the funds to address a decades-long sewer issue at the end of Eastway Drive, bordered by Cedar, Plum and Field Streets. This area still has terra cotta sewer pipes installed in the 1930s, which are now invaded by roots and breaking with age.
Troutman said he knows fixing the area will not be cheap, but these residents need a permanent solution to their ongoing problems.
Henkel agreed that the “band-aid” approach was not working. “I would love to see us do what we feasibly can and clear the situation up once and for all," he said. "This situation has just been nickel-and-diming us for years, and we need to correct this situation that keeps popping up.”
Jablonski requested that Town Manager Justin Longino add the item to the town’s budget retreat agenda for discussion in May.
WORK ORDER SYSTEM
Troutman residents have a new way to report problems through the town’s new work order system, according to Longino.
Residents can file work orders addressing potholes, damaged street signs, streetlight outages, parking violations, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, traffic signal outages, sidewalk issues, overgrown lots, or code violations through the town’s website at https://tinyurl.com/nxs9v5f.
The problem can be reported anonymously, but if no name and email are given, the town cannot follow up with a report when the situation is addressed.
The work order system quickly alerts appropriate town employees about problems and allows them to prioritize them by seriousness as well as proximity to staff already working in the area to maximize efficiency.
POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES DONATIONS
Police Chief Matthew Selves recognized CopsDirect for its donations of 15 emergency medical kits to the Troutman Police Department. CopsDirect was founded in January 2017 due to the overwhelming success of its parent organization, TroopsDirect.org.
CopsDirect is working with Tactical Medical Solutions of Anderson, S.C., to provide police departments across the nation with TacMed Downed Officer Kits (DOK), which contain the items essential for treatment of serious injuries encountered by law enforcement and military personnel.
The kits, which are small enough to fit in the police cruiser’s cargo pocket or glove box, is packed in a heavyweight re-sealable bag. It contains a tourniquet, bandages, gauze, surgical tape, trauma shears, pocket dressings, wound pressure cup, face shield, and protective gloves to immediately treat officers suffering from injuries such as stab or gunshot wounds while waiting for EMTs
PARKS AND RECREATION
Parks and Recreation Committee Chair John Larew announced that a public drop-in meeting is planned from 4 to 7 p.m. at Town Hall on Monday, April 17, to gather public input regarding Phase 2 of Troutman ESC Park, which includes an amphitheater, interactive children’s fountain, walking track around the soccer fields, and additional parking.
All interested persons are welcome to attend. Contact Emily Watson at 704-528-7600 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Larew also reminded locals to vote for ESC Park in the Meet Me at the Park contest for a $20,000 grant for the park. Citizens can go to https://www.meetmeatthepark.org to sign up and vote once a day.
The Farmers Market will operate on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. beginning on May 2 at the ESC Park pavilion. A Farmers Market information meeting for interested venders will be Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m. at Troutman ESC Park.
Larew said that the 200 memorial bricks sold for the ESC Park wagon wheel design near the pavilion are set to be laid soon. Pavilion rentals are also brisk, with community organizations, churches, and private parties scheduled on many dates.
Larew also reported that preparations for Front Porch Fest on May 13 were underway. The banners and signs are ready, and vendor applications were sent to all previous venders several weeks ago.
The Lake Norman Humane Dog Park construction at ESC Park will be completed in late May, with fencing being installed on May 16 and the Public Works Department pouring the concrete pad.
J. HOYT HAYES MEMORIAL TROUTMAN BRANCH LIBRARY
Branch Manager Rebecca Lopez reported that the library’s garden was planted on April 1 by the Teen Club. The teens will meet again on Saturday, April 29, at 11 a.m. to plant the butterfly garden in the center of the garden area and also to assemble and place two memorial benches donated for the library’s garden.
The Teen Club will also volunteer at Front Porch Fest to finish out their activities this school year.
Lopez reported that the recently installed Little Library at ESC Park has been a big hit. Lopez refills the books once a week and has discovered new books left by those who borrow one, as the Little Library is intended to work.
The library recently purchased a stamp to mark all books that the library contributes to the project “so that wherever they go, the books will show they originated with the Troutman Little Library.”
Lopez also announced that the Lions Club wants to partner with the library on a project, for which Lopez suggested another Little Library at the depot area. The Lions will purchase the Little Library, with windows and a solar light, and also paint and install it at a specific depot location selected by the town. The library’s only responsibility would be to stock the books with new selections each week.
Lopez pointed out that the ESC Park location cannot be used after dark, and this new Little Library would serve the many people who use the greenway each day.
Williams suggested they look at pictures of the new library and get a recommendation from Longino about the location before making a decision on the project, probably at the April 24 special meeting.
Mayor Young recognized Pamela Preston, owner of Elegant Monogramming, for her business’s contribution to Troutman. Preston began her business by sewing dresses for children in her home daycare and expanded to an internet-based business and then to a home-based business in 2012.
In 2015, she opened Elegant Monogramming at 136 Wagner Street and expanded her sewing and monogramming business to add several popular clothing lines, including Life is Good, Simply Southern, and Southern Couture. She employs several family members and locals.
Preston expressed her thanks to Young for the recognition, saying, “We appreciate your support and are thankful to be a part of the town.”
An attractive display of her monogrammed baby clothes and other items will be on display at Town Hall over the next few weeks.
The council also unanimously voted to give the Planning and Zoning Board permission to form a Revert Rezoning Amendment Task Force to investigate procedures to revert to the property’s previous zoning designation if requested changes are not acted upon in a reasonable amount of time.
The council appointed Jablonski and Bryant to the task force, along with P & Z members Randy Farmer and Ken Reid.
Troutman Business Council President Andrew Whitaker was selected for the open seat on the Wayfinding Committee.
BUDGET RETREAT DATE CHANGE
After discovering a conflict, the council voted to change the date of the budget retreat to May 22 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Town Hall. Council had originally voted at its Monday pre-agenda meeting to hold the retreat on May 5.