Council votes 4-1 on gun ban for office

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2014

The Clemmons Village Council voted in Monday night’s meeting to amend and modify its firearm ordinance, tweaking some of the language and giving direction to the town manager with regard to posting signs prohibiting weapons on village property.

The Village approved an amendment to the firearm ordinance in October, but this modification clarifies the types of weapons that are prohibited.

The new provision includes: “The Village Manager is hearby directed to post appropriate signage on each building or portion of a building. … The signage shall enumerate these weapons: handguns, bowie knife, dirk, dagger, sling shot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razor, shurikin, stun gun or other deadly weapon of like kind. The signage shall further note that the Village prohibits firearms of any type in any building or appurtenant premise thereof owned or operated by the Village. The signage shall further note than an ordinary pocket knife with a blade of less than five inches in length is not prohibited by Village ordinance.”

Councilwoman Mary Cameron asked for confirmation on what the amended ordinance actually does.

“No. 1, it brings us into compliance with state law, and No. 2, it doesn’t change the existing ordinance that we have,” she said, and attorney Warren Kasper agreed.

It passed by a 4-1 margin with councilman Bill Lawry, a vocal advocate for the rights of gun owners’ rights, opposed.

Several individuals, including Andy Stevens of Grass Roots North Carolina, sided with Lawry during the public comments portion of the meeting,

“Eliminating your gun ban will make Clemmons safer, reduce confusion and demonstrate your council’s respect of law-abiding voters,” Stevens said. “The criminal element and the mentally ill do not honor gun-control ordinances.”

Tom Jones, who resides at 6131 Stadium Drive, asked if posting signs was necessary and effective for their intended purpose.

“Do you really think someone who intends to do harm to be deterred by the signs?” he asked, adding the signs violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “A gun-free zone is an invitation to criminals and crazies.”

Gene Livengood of 3137 Middlebrook Drive said that “no one here is more pro-gun than I am,” but he said he had already done research regarding the overwhelming number of “no guns” votes in surrounding towns.

Lawry spoke for nearly 10 minutes regarding his opposition to the ordinance during the business portion of the meeting with a variety of theories and stats supporting his “more guns, less crime” position.

Afterward, Stevens said: “The council had an opportunity to stand for freedom today. They didn’t.”

In other business, the council opted not to approve the Village Inn Event Center’s request of $25,000 from the Occupancy Tax Tourism Fund as councilwoman Mary Cameron’s motion died after a lack of a second.

Instead, a second motion was made to extend discussion on the matter, including talking about forming a marketing group. It passed by a 4-1 margin as Cameron voted against it. She actually asked earlier about the possibility of forming a collaborative marketing effort but preferred to do that after granting the request from the Village Inn Event Center.

Dana Bryson, owner of the facility that recently went through a $1.5 million renovation, said she spent $139,000 in 2013 for marketing her property and the Village, including $48,000 in direct marketing.

She said she considers the Village Inn Event Center to be a partner with all other businesses in Clemmons.

Guests staying there and the other hotels in Clemmons pay an additional 6 percent occupancy tax that goes to Forsyth County and then filters back to the Tourism Fund.

Bryant’s request for $35,000 last year was approved by the council, which also hears requests for funds from organizations such as the Southwest Forsyth Little League, Clemmons Community Theater, Jerry Long Family YMCA, the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce and others.

Councilman Mike Rogers said that the council needs to have a “collaborative effort instead of piecemeal” and added an overall marketing initiative could include a redesigned website that has been considered for some time.

Darrell Roark, the newest council member, said that there was a lot to process after Bryson’s presentation.

“We need to look at the totality of what it is going to cost us going forward and look into our website,” Roark said. “We need just need to absorb that information and talk and see where we need to go with these funds.”

Later in the meeting, village manager Gary Looper updated the council on the website options, saying there were currently four possibilities with a range of $7,600 to $16,000 for startup costs and $1,200 to $1,500 in annual fees.

The council also:

• Called for a public hearing on Feb. 10 during the next council meeting regarding a zoning map amendment of Village Point LLC and Gibraltar Commercial IV LLC from PB-S (Pedestrian Business – Special Use) to GB-S (General Business – Special Use to include Restaurant with Drive-Through). Dairi-O, which opened its third restaurant last year off Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem, plans to expand next to Clemmons at Lewisville-Clemmons Road near the intersection of Towncenter Drive and Allegacy Way. The local chain’s other restaurants are on the University Parkway in Winston-Salem and in King.

• Approved a bid of $72,259 for the Gardenspring Drive stormwater project. RCJ Contracting’s quote came in at $65,690 for the project, which had a budgeted amount of $129,462. The total request for approval included a 10 percent contingency fund if there are any unforeseeable problems. The City/Council Utilities will reimburse the Village the amount of $9,725 for moving a water line for a final cost to Clemmons of $62,534 — a savings of $66,926.

• Appointed Christopher Wrights to the position on the Planning Board, filling the spot vacated by Darrell Roark when he was selected to fill the opening on the Village Council. Bruce Britton was selected to the opening on the Zoning Board of Adjustment to replace Bill Lawry, who was elected to the Village Council in November.

• Heard from Looper and Public Works Director Larry Kirby on a recent pavement condition report that stated Clemmons received a rating of 88.9 percent, well above the state average despite cutting back on spending several years ago. “Overall, I think we keep our streets in pretty good shape,” Kirby said. “We are trying to spend the Powell Bill money as wisely as we can. We’re hoping to get back to 90 percent.”

• Heard from planner Megan Ledbetter regarding the Lewisville-Clemmons Road Overlay District committee meeting in December. She presented a draft plan for the geographic area of the overlay district and went through the proposed connectivity routes.

• Called for a public hearing on Feb. 10 on a zoning text amendment to comply with the new state requirements concerning the operating, variance and appeal procedures for the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

• Heard from Looper about the upcoming dates for bulk item pickup, which will be the weeks of March 17 (west side) and March 24 (east side).

• Talked about the upcoming council retreat, which has been shifted to last year’s location — Homewood Suites in Pinehurst — with new dates of March 19-20.

• Heard from Emily Harrison, stormwater technician, about the upcoming Forsyth Creek Week, which is scheduled March 15-23. This is the second year for the education program on local waterways. “It was a huge success last year,” Harrison said.