Troutman Council considering new code enforcement options, temporary planning services
BY DEBBIE PAGE
During their pre-agenda meeting on Monday, Troutman Town Council members discussed procuring part-time temporary planning services and finding a new firm to provide code enforcement services for the town.
The council also reviewed Thursday night’s agenda, which includes the official swearing in of new council member Jan Huffman, who replaced the retiring Jim Troutman.
The council will also honor the service of Lt. Marty Loudermilt, who is retiring, and welcome Darin Bumgarner (K-9 officer with K-9 Jackpot) and patrol officers Daniel Bova and Matthew Loudermilt to the Troutman Police Department.
Town Planner Erika Martin resigned unexpectedly in January, leaving the position vacant since. Town Manager Justin Longino said the town has received 13 applications, with six deemed as qualified for the position. He is currently arranging interviews with the top three candidates.
Since it will be at least a month before the new planner is in place, Longino asked council members to consider hiring a senior planner from Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG) for two days per week, starting February 18, for two months to fill the gap and help the new person transition into the position.
“This person would also work to develop a defined set of planning and zoning review checklists that would be used moving forward,“ said Longino. “These would correspond with the new UDO and would greatly clarify the process for both staff and applicants.”
“I am recommending that we keep the contract term at two months as it could be cut short if needed, but it would also allow for some overlap when the new employee starts and the contract employee transitions out,” Longino said.
Funds are available in the current budget to pay for the services, Longino said.
Council members requested additional information about the candidate for this temporary post before considering approval on Thursday night.
After council members requested a more proactive approach, rather than just a complaint-driven procedure, to the town’s code enforcement last year, the $15,500 budgeted for these services had been spent in December, according to Longino.
“We are now in a position that we have no enforcement officer and have depleted the funds budgeted for that initial contract” with CCOG, added Longino, recommends that the town contract out these services until the new planner is hired.
If the council decides to add a new planning department position in next few years, the new employee could then take on code enforcement duties in the future.
Longino has reached out to Kannapolis-based N-Focus, which he called “a credible firm with excellent leadership.”
Services for the rest of this budget year would require a budget amendment of $5,226, which the council will consider, along with a contract for services, on Thursday night.
Council members also discussed a possible partnership with the Career Academy and Technology School (CATS) to use its new meeting room area, which is in the process of being renovated for use for meetings, testing, and other purposes.
The room will seat 150-200 people, depending on room arrangement, and would be helpful to the town since council meetings are often overflowing in its current small chamber.
A school system representative asked council members to tour the CATS meeting room in its current state and discuss a possible agreement for town use, in return for the town’s help in furnishing the room or with purchasing AV equipment.
Council members Judy Jablonski and Sally Williams agreed to visit the facility along with town staff representatives. Longino said moving council meetings and other events now housed in the council chambers would free up the area for renovations into additional much-needed office space.
► The next council planning retreat was scheduled on Friday, March 8, from 1 to 4 p.m.
► The council was not interested in a $20,000 offer for the town’s vacant Massey Street property. The town had recently lowered the asking price from $40,000 to $35,000. The town has received no other offers on the property and will consider other possible uses for the tract.
► The council voted 5-0 to pass a budget amendment of $6,941 to move insurance funds received to repair a police patrol car, which was recently rear-ended.
ALSO ON THURSDAY'S AGENDA
► Consideration of a rezoning request from Limelights to change from light industrial to conditionally zoned office and institutional. The council tabled the business’s request last fall until the completion of the recently approved UDO and Strategic Master Plan.
The uses would be limited to short-term rentals (AirBnB), bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and services and office uses. Longino said the conditional-use designation allows council members discretion with uses and conditions as long as the applicant agrees to them.
► Consideration of a contract with Stantec to conduct the Southwest Bypass study. The town received $100,000 in Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) funds to help fund the study, with the council committing $25,000 to the project.
Under the contract, Stantec would conduct community interviews and well as a charrette to get citizen input about the proposed bypass.
► A vote on the appointment of Board of Adjustment alternate Matthew Weber to fill the inside seat of Huffman, who left the board for the open Town Council seat.
► Appointments of delegates and alternates to the CRTPO and CCOG.
► A vote on a budget amendment of $25,000 for an 8-inch water line to run from the Children’s Hope Alliance area under Highway 21 to the Calvary Chapel Church area. A 2-inch water line will run from the east side of the highway to the church building.
► Recognition of Iredell Charter Academy students and a standing report from J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library.