Council votes 4-1 for ‘Draft A’ median opinion

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, February 15, 2018

By Jim Buice

The Clemmons Courier Instead of reversing a resolution that supported NCDOT’s request for a median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road by the previous council, the Clemmons Village Council took somewhat of a detour in Monday night’s meeting by approving a directive with different language.

The new council, which includes three new members along with a mayor opposed to the median who were voted into office last November, passed a resolution “to support continued study of and possible improvements” to the busy thoroughfare instead of just providing a firm “no” to the median from I-40 to U.S. 158.

In the previous meeting on Jan. 22, councilwoman P.J. Lofland made a motion to reverse the resolution that was adopted in September 2016. However, after concerns were expressed on the median being tied to the bridge project over I-40, the impact on the current feasibility study on the entire road and seeing what NCDOT reveals from that, she withdrew her motion.

The item was back on Monday night’s agenda, and this time a couple of drafts of a new resolution were discussed, including Draft A, which passed by a 4-1 margin. Mike Combest, the lone member of the previous council remaining who was in favor of the previous resolution, produced Draft B, which was the same as Draft A after eliminating the first six paragraphs.

The last graph of those six in Draft A states: “Whereas, contrary to Resolution 2016-R-17, the present Village Council does not believe the citizens of Clemmons will support the installation of a median in a corridor that will substantially unbroken except for certain intersection points, as yet to be determined.”

Then the next graph, which is the seventh one on Draft A and the first on Draft B states: “Whereas, the Village Council continues to support the study and design of the improvements to the corridor, which will improve traffic flow and safety, but does not believe the solutions should be limited to the construction of the median.”

Combest, in voicing his opposition to Draft A, said: “Your contention is if we don’t change the resolution that DOT will bring us a recommendation that does not include the full scope of access management and traffic control solutions other than medians. What are we trying to change other than a new resolution?”

Lofland, who made the motion in favor of Draft A (with a second by councilwoman Michelle Barson), said that “this will publicly change what the current council wants. As Mr. (Pat) Ivey (Division 9 engineer) told me many times, if you don’t want a median, we ‘re not going to build one. This new resolution makes it clear that we do not want just a median down Lewisville-Clemmons Road. We want to look at every other option there is.”

In introducing the reconsideration of the resolution, Mayor John Wait provided a slideshow presentation on the history of the project and a view going forward.

“When you look at a new resolution, it shows we’re listening to the community,” Wait said, “and it’s two-fold. We don’t want just a median project but want the best one in the world if it comes to that, but also this allows us to see the study in the spring and hopefully be able to give input.

“Each one of the drafts is clear that the community wants to see every available option. It’s also clear if DOT is going to present us with just a median solution, when September rolls around, we are going to have to re-evaluate our points.”

Regardless of the study, Wait said that based on looking at every available document, DOT’s plan has been to convert Lewisville-Clemmons Road to a four-lane median road.

“This is a study to deliver the project,” he said of the $750,000 feasibility study that will be completed and brought to the public this spring. “This is preliminary engineering. My opinion is the median was decided to be a solution before the study was commissioned. But as the council stated in the last meeting, we want to see every available option.”

In the manager’s report, Scott Buffkin provided updates on the new library project and Idols Road Industrial Park.

After receiving renderings recently about changes to the exterior design based on a projection that the $6 million library project was about $1 million over cost in early estimates, the council stated in its last meeting about having more input in the process and seeing how they could improve the final product before it’s too late.

“They do now have the design drawings in hand and are scheduled to have the cost estimates by the end of this month,” Buffkin said of the county. “What they’ve agreed to do with us is to provide a list of the items that were value engineered out previously and the estimated cost for each one of those items so if there is an opportunity to add those back, we can be involved in prioritization process.”

Barson and Combest have been involved in a series of meeting regarding the library since the last council meeting. Barson said they also enlisted the help of a local architect from Clemmons West who donated his time and helped as an educator and conduit between Clemmons and the county.

“I would say that the library was not so far along that we missed the boat,” she said. “I think it was great that the community saw a change and was excited about it because it moved us to start the conversation and to make sure we were really part of the process still. I think we’re going to get a lot of what we want out of it.”

Regarding Idols Road Industrial Park, Buffkin said that the lines of communication are still open with the county, which has requested just under $1.3 million for utility upgrades from Clemmons. The two parties have been unable to reach an agreement on being partners with the park.

Buffkin added that a traffic impact analysis is expected to be completed in the next two to three weeks.

In other business, the council:

• Buffkin said that details are being finalized for the upcoming retreat with March 20-21 as the dates being proposed.

• Approved a zoning text amendment to the United Development Ordinance to modify Chapter B, Article IV of the UDO to amend the Historic Overlay regulations to include additional small towns, such as Clemmons, within the Forsyth County’s Historic Resource Commission and to make clarifications to the Historic Overlay District requirements — C-UDO-77 – after tabling it in the previous meeting to provide more time to review for some council members.

• Received an update on the Triad Municipal ABC Board from Eric Blanks, who said the Triad ranked fourth in state among ABC boards and that the Clemmons store ranked sixth in the Triad.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the Boy Scouts collected 4,600 pounds of food, which was delivered to the Clemmons Food Pantry last weekend. She added that a dodgeball tournament hosted by the Clemmons United Methodist youth group will be Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Jerry Long YMCA with admission being canned food.

• Heard from Henry Gieser and Charles Sherrill during the public comments portion of the meeting. Gieser stated the critical need for another north-south road connector to I-40 through Clemmons. Sherrill commended the mayor and council for considering to webcast and record council meetings as part of a transparent government.