Village council looks at options for Market Street Drive project

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 22, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

With improvements coming to Lewisville-Clemmons Road down the road, the Clemmons Village Council continues to explore the best way to move forward now with Market Center Drive — one of the key parallel roads that could help with traffic flow.

The first phase of the Market Street Drive project, which includes a connection from Ramada Drive to Stadium Drive, was supposed to have construction start in July but was held up when the owners of the Kmart property did not want to consent after seeing the NCDOT proposal for Lewisville-Clemmons Road and the median, which was approved in September.

With the Kmart property now being for sale and likely to be redeveloped, and with parent company Sears Holdings Corp. filing for bankruptcy, the staff put together different scenarios — including the first phase and second phase of the project – for the Clemmons Village Council to consider in last Tuesday night’s meeting.

Based on the uncertainty of the Kmart property and the understanding it will redevelop in some shape or form, planner Megan Ledbetter outlined the staff’s new recommendation of completing Phase I without the Kmart section — calling it Phase IA (stopping at the Village Square property line) — and Phase II from Stadium heading south through the Lowe’s shopping center, coming out and constructing a new public street to the Cook Avenue intersection.

Ledbetter said that the approximate funding for the new proposal would be $224,000 for Phase IA, leaving $474,000 under the Phase I capital budget (now being called Phase IB) that could be supplanted to Phase II, and applying $310,000 left in the capital budget line left from the first phase, which could then be used for the second phase. Plus, there is $400,000 allocated to the crosswalks and sidewalks for Phase II through CMAQ funds. Of course, the newly constructed project would have to be rebid.

Ledbetter said that based on the timing of the Kmart property being for sale and not knowing for sure that the tenant is going to be there long term, this would enable Clemmons to be “a good steward of our tax dollars” and “use our resources to continue on to a secondary phase of this project.”

Mayor John Wait said in summary: “So your recommendation is to do the northern end of Market Center Drive up by Village Square (part of Phase I) and starting on Phase II, and then whenever the Kmart site goes to be redeveloped, then whoever redevelops it would have to pay for that section.”

The council, for the most part, agreed with the recommendation.

“Those two sections seem to make the most sense,” said councilman Chris Wrights. “IB is already a straight shot – open roadway. IA is just zigzagging through parking lots, so that’s going to make a huge difference to open that up. The same way with Phase II when you go down there to the end at Wells Fargo, there’s no road there now to connect to Cook. So you open that up. Those two phases are the really the two most important parts of this project.”

Councilwoman P.J. Lofland concurred. “We’re going to build anyway, and since we’re stymied on one part of it, we should go ahead finish the other two,” she said.

Councilwoman Michelle Barson said, “I’m already at a place where I’m comfortable in making a decision. It makes sense to leave that one portion open for now for potential redevelopment, but in the meantime we can start to get to work on the Phase I that people are expecting us to do.”

However, councilman Mike Combest wanted some more time than to make a 30-minute decision on this amount of money,

“I prefer to wait,” Combest said. “We’re talking about a pretty good chunk of change here. I think we ought to take a couple of weeks to consider all of the ramifications. This is a different sequence we’re talking about.”

Wrights then said that the project has been in the works for years and if Combest needs another two weeks to think about it, “it’s not going to hurt anything.”

So by council consensus, it was decided to make it an agenda item for the next meeting.

Ledbetter also just started working on putting together another potential project after learning CMAQ Funds, through a federal program, will be available for something that is not engineered and shovel ready to move forward.

Wait said when he found out at a recent Transportation Advisory Committee meeting that some extra funds might be available, he spoke with Ledbetter about any projects, which must be at least $100,000 (with a 20 percent local match) that might work with a tight time frame — they are calling for projects by Dec. 6.

Ledbetter, who added that even though it’s a 20 percent local match that is better to count on 30 percent, said she wanted to see through council consensus if it was worth spending the time to find a project worth considering.

“One thing I thought of is maybe doing a consolidated bike lane program in the Village where you put bike lanes on more than one road and then letting that contract at one time, not doing technically a bricks and mortar project,” she said. “It’s more of a stripping project.”

Barson said that kind of project makes sense for the Village with stripping being a traffic calming measure and that she has learned Clemmons is a huge cycling community.

Combest added that “if it’s out there and we can pursue it, let’s go find out.”

Ledbetter said she would put something together to present at the next council meeting on Nov. 26.

In another agenda item, the council held a lengthy discussion on possible traffic calming measures after residents along Gardenspring Drive came before them in the previous meeting to talk about how they no longer feel safe on their street because of excessive speeding.

Public Works Director Mike Gunnell showed a PowerPoint presentation he put together with 32 different measures (including non-physical, vertical, horizontal and diversion) and the costs involved to address these concerns.

Several council members asked about getting input from EMS, fire and other first-responders on the impact of physical measures, such as speed humps, which were mentioned in the previous meeting as a possible solution. They also discussed whether to just consider Gardenspring and/or have a broader conversation on streets throughout the Village.

Ultimately, the council decided to put another agenda item for the Nov. 26 meeting on Gardenspring traffic calming measures and then add an agenda item on an overall discussion of traffic calming measures on Dec. 10.

In other business, the council:

• Appointed Molly Douglass to the Stormwater Advisory Board.

• Appointed David Corn to the Ad-hoc Transportation Committee.

• Approved the low bid of $47,345 from RCJ Contracting of Winston-Salem for Lakefield Court (Stormwater CIP Number VOC 18-01).

• Heard a presentation on the completed Concurrency Model from engineer Jonathan Guy of Kimley-Horn on a tool that can correlate land use with level of service for roadways while looking at traffic-impact analysis at intersections, which can be constantly updated to help the council make decisions. Combest said that “the quality of decision-making is going to go way up with this.” Ledbetter said she could compare it to being a “formulated Excel spreadsheet.”

• Appointed Barson as the voting delegate and Wait as the alternate from Clemmons for the N.C. League of Municipalities Advocacy Goals Conference.

• Approved the final step of amending County zoning to Village zoning for recently approved amendments to the UDO and the Official Map of Clemmons after public hearings where no one spoke, changing the zoning from County RS30 to Clemmons RM-18-S for the annexed property of Mission Development LLC and David Liner for property located at the intersection of Peace Haven Road and Harper Road (Annexation Ordinance 2018-A-01 – Tharrington); and changing the zoning from County RS30 to Clemmons RM-5-S for the annexed property of The Arden Group and Jamie Boyles, Anne Justus, Dale Darnell, Clifton Darnell and Blake Boyles for property located at 1730 Lewisville-Clemmons Road (Annexation Ordinance 2018-A-02 – Magnolia Park).

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the Clemmons Annual Tree Light Ceremony will be held Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. at Village Hall.