Council hears update on Market Center Drive: Property owners against project due to traffic concerns

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 26, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

With a decision on improvements to Lewisville-Clemmons Road looming, including a possible median, the Clemmons Village Council heard an update on Market Center Drive — one of the key parallel roads that could help with traffic flow — in Monday night’s meeting.

Mayor John Wait said he met with the two property owners of Kmart regarding that section of the first phase of the Market Street Drive project, which includes a connection from Ramada Drive to Stadium Drive, on Monday.

“Now that they have seen the DOT proposal for Lewisville-Clemmons Road and the median, they now held up and do not want to consent to the Market Center Drive improvement, which we do not have actual written agreements for that right-of-way,” Wait said. “The Market Center Drive project was supposed to start construction in July, and right now for 60 percent of it, we don’t have permission to build it. That’s the reason for the update.”

Wait said that the owners, who now plan to get a traffic analysis themselves, were concerned with the possible bottleneck created on the northern end of the road with the limited left turns, including eliminating the left-turn option into the Kmart property, proposed on Lewisville-Clemmons Road with a possible median.

“Without DOT’s proposal, I think they maybe wouldn’t have any problem with the project at all,” Wait said. “The bottom line is we don’t have any right to improve this private road without their permission.”

Wait said he wanted to give staff clear direction on how to proceed with a contractor ready and agreements in place on the northern portion of Market Center Drive, and council moved to proceed with that section.

“We can talk to business owners on the northern part and get them on board,” said councilman Chris Wrights. “To me, that’s the most important segment so can at least get going with that. The Kmart section is a straight open shot to begin with, so we can still do everything but the Kmart section.”

The NCDOT held a public meeting at River Oaks Community Church earlier this month to give a brief presentation, show maps and answer questions on possible Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements, including a median that would cover 20 percent (from Ramada Drive to Stadium Drive) of the corridor from I-40 to U.S. 158.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that NCDOT representatives would be at the next council meeting on Monday, Aug. 13, to for a follow-up on that July meeting and to answer any questions. The NCDOT needs a decision by September on whether Clemmons wants to proceed with the project.

In another business item, the council questioned the revised construction cost for the James Street Extension Project and decided to approach Hubbard Realty and ask them about participating in the cost of a temporary skimmer basin ($60,422) that will serve as the permanent stormwater control for the library and the rest of the Hubbard Realty property to be developed.

Buffkin said that the Village met with a partner from Hubbard Realty regarding some concerns they had about how the expenses were shared and said that the requests “were fairly reasonable and some that we couldn’t find any documentation for — his contention of not being required to provide a pro-rata share of the sidewalk, curb, gutter and street trees.”

Buffkin said that the original contract from a couple of years ago “left some things ambiguous and open for interpretation” and that some communication may have been expressed verbally that was not recorded in that document.

Wait questioned the use of the word “concurrently” in doing the work with the Village and if Hubbard was paying its pro-rata share or not.

In the final numbers presented in Monday night’s meeting from the revised construction cost estimate, Clemmons will be paying $759,768 while Hubbard Realty’s number is $169,605, both with a 15 percent contingency included.

“By my calculation from the first proposal that was brought to the revised, taxpayers are looking at an increased cost of $70,454,” Wait said of Hubbard’s earlier price estimate of roughly $240,000.

Public Works Director Mike Gunnell said that the cost of the temporary skimmer basin represents about 90 percent of that difference.

Councilman Mike Combest said he didn’t think the Village should “yield this easily,” and the council agreed by consensus.

“I think it’s worth another conversation,” Combest said. “My understanding is we have a legitimate expectation that Hubbard Realty will participate in funding that item, or whatever items are appropriate. That’s a lot of money.”

In a strange twist, the council voted to add a Village of Clemmons logo on the water tank after a representative from the City-County Utilities unexpectedly came by Village Hall last week to deliver renderings of a logo they planned to put on the tank.

Earlier this year, Clemmons voted not to spend $6,600 or more to place a logo on the water tank following a comment by Combest, who said that kind of money could be better spent on more worthwhile projects and thinking that there would be no wording on the tank.

However, after the surprising development of having a City-County Utilities logo with no mention of Clemmons on a water tank in the Village, the council decided it made sense to have a local presence on the tank in its own hometown.

“It’s almost a form of blackmail,” said councilwoman P.J. Lofland.

Buffkin said that although a price increase of some 10 percent to 20 percent over the initial cost estimate could be expected as the project now can’t be scheduled until next year, the Utility Reserve Fund money could be used for this purpose.

“It’s not like we would be taking it out of General Fund tax revenues that our citizens would pay if that lessens the blow any whatsoever,” he said.

In other business, the council:

• Approved spending $47,300 to employ Jewell Engineering Consultants for professional engineering services to develop final design and prepare construction plans for the replacement of the existing culvert on Springdale Drive, which currently also serves as a pond outlet, pending consent from the property owners involved. Springside is the Village’s top priority CIP project in the stormwater program.

• Heard from Combest regarding the Clemmons Fire Department Annual Report. Combest said that there were 2,059 responses in 2017 for an average of almost six a day for a 55-person fire department, and that of the $7 million of property involved, 98 percent was saved and less than $130,000 was lost. “That’s just amazing,” Combest said. The fire department also was awarded a Class 3 rating this year, which is in the top 7 percent in the state.

• Received an update on Tanglewood Business Park. Buffkin said he made an inquiry of Forsyth County officials on July 9 regarding an update on whether the Beaufurn closing had transpired but hasn’t receive a response. Councilwoman Michelle Barson said that a couple of follow-up meetings regarding the park are scheduled in the next week or two.

• Approved a request of Resolution 2018-R-9 directing the clerk to investigate a petition received under NCGS 160A-31 — Voluntary Annexation Request of The Arden Group with property owners Jamie Boyles, Anne Justus, Scott Justus, Dale Darnell, Clifton Darnell and Blake Boyles. This is the first step in the process for a property across from West Forsyth High School at the corner of Millbridge Road and Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

• Heard from planner Megan Ledbetter that there was one continuation from last week’s Planning Board meeting — a Zoning Map Amendment from Mission Development LLC to the August meeting because annexation paperwork was not completed in a timely fashion. The site is at the corner of Peace Haven and Harper Road for an independent living facility as well as some single-family dwellings.

• Heard from attorney David Kasper, who stated that easements have been put together to be recorded for the sidewalk project from Lewisville-Clemmons Road to Tanglewood along U.S. 158 and that hopefully work can begin soon.

• Called for a public hearing on a Zoning Map Amendment for JBJH Properties LLC from RS-15 to NB-S (Neighborhood Business-Special Use) located at the intersection of Hampton Road and Cook Place Drive, approximately .34 acres — Zoning Docket C-UDO-226; and also called for a public hearing on a Zoning Text Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to modify the Appendix, Traffic Impact Study Standards — C-UDO-79.

• Approved having a Facebook page for the Stormwater Department to be used for educational and outreach purposes.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in her marketing report. She said that the next Coffee with a Cop would be held Thursday, Aug. 16, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Mama Mia Italian Ice.