Jan Huffman was appointed to the Troutman Town Council on Thursday.
Troutman Council selects Huffman to fill vacant seat, approves UDO rewrite
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Town Council members selected Jan Huffman to fill resigning member Jim Troutman’s seat during Thursday night's meeting.
Huffman, who will fill the seat vacated by Jim Troutman, will be sworn in prior to the council’s retreat on Friday, February 1, so she can quickly begin her term in office, which ends in December.
Prior to a nomination being offered, council member Sally Williams, while calling both Huffman and candidate Matthew Weber well-qualified candidates, expressed concern about the lack of age diversity on the council, saying Weber’s “younger blood” and “different perspective” could connect the council better to younger residents and inspire them to get involved in town government.
Willams also expressed concern, in the name of transparency, that Huffman is council member Paul Bryant’s next door neighbor and also lives a few homes away from Mayor Teross Young. She said that such close proximity might not look well to some town residents.
“I do think that some people come already to council meetings with not an open mind, that they have already decided the way they’re going to vote and have made their decisions and they don’t listen to the public hearing, and that’s exactly what the public hearing is for, for people to come and give their opinions and for you to take their opinions and put in perspective of what’s best for the town,” Williams said.
Council member Judy Jablonski spoke in favor of Huffman, noting her education, skills, 41 years of public administration experience, her active participation in the community and in town government, and her selection as Citizen of the Year in 2018.
Acknowledging both candidates as qualified with positives on both sides, council member Paul Henkel also supported Huffman because he wanted someone “who can hit the ground running, who is already familiar with our organization and things we have discussed, who has been a part of our advisory boards and has the training and education.”
Henkel also pointed out that Huffman's master’s degree in public administration qualified her to actually manage the town.
Calling Weber “a fine young man,” Henkel encouraged him to run for one of two seats up for election in November.
Weber congratulated Huffman, saying, “I’m very happy for Mrs. Huffman. I think she is an outstanding citizen, and I wish her the best.”
Williams dissented in the 3-1 vote to place Huffman in the vacant seat.
UDO REWRITE APPROVED
Council members unanimously passed the Unified Development Ordinance rewrite that committee members, the Planning and Zoning Board, council members, and town staff have labored over for three years.
Craig Lewis with Stantec consulted on the complete overhaul to the UDO. “This was no small order, as sentence after sentence has been reviewed, re-arranged, or replaced altogether,” said Town Planner Erika Martin, who recommended approval of the document governing land use and development in Troutman.
“Despite the fine-tuning, this document will always be a living document,” warned Martin. “Like all major UDO overhauls, this document is reflective of the issues important at the time of its development.”
Martin said the 300 page document includes some important changes including:
• Inclusion of requirements for local traffic impacts arising from development.
• Detailed and illustrated design controls for multi-family and nonresidential development.
• Updated language to reflect microbreweries, short-term rentals, logistics, large warehouses, and changes in the law related to signs, variances, and consistency statements.
• Increased opportunity for public engagement, through notifying more property owners and utilizing conditional zoning for all Mixed Residential and Heavy Industrial projects.
• Increased tree and stream protection.
• Removal of the Construction Standards section to become its own stand-alone document.
The Planning & Zoning Board unanimously recommended adoption after the addition of a few minor changes. The Town Council also modified the permitting of town homes on Monday at its pre-agenda meeting.
Because building standards were completely removed from the UDO, the council also unanimously approved Resolution 01-19 officially authorizing a separate Construction Standards document for the town.
RURAL PRESERVATION REZONING REQUEST PARTIALLY APPROVED
Council members reopened a rezoning request to Rural Preservation from a group of neighbors who own a combined 136 acres on Hoover, Perry, and Murdock Roads after being presented with four different options to handle the request at the council's pre-agenda meeting on Monday.
Martin noted that the Strategic Master Plan’s future land use map placed all parcels within this request as rural agricultural, making the applicable zoning district Rural Preservation. She noted some of the parcels would receive legal nonconforming status in the form of acreage, setbacks, frontage requirements, but the nonconformities could be grandfathered in to allow the community to move toward its vision and allow continued enjoyment of the owners’ properties as they existed on the date of the rezoning.
“Legal nonconformities are a normal and necessary part of any jurisdiction and not, in my professional opinion, a cause for concern or rejection of parcels within this request,” added Martin, who recommended approval of the neighbors’ rezoning as requested.
Bryant, however, made a motion to accept only part of the properties as Rural Preservation district, seconded by Jablonski, because some were inconsistent with the UDO just passed that required such parcels be at least 3 acres to receive this designation.
Bryant’s motion passed 3-1, with Williams dissenting.
In other business, the council approved:
• Policy #52 governing public records requests; and
• Amendments to the Troutman Parks and Recreation Committee to reduce membership seats and to create a separate ESC Park Friends under the leadership of board members being eliminated with this change, made necessary because of the difficulty of getting quorums at meetings to conduct necessary business.