More details emerge regarding business park

Published 12:10 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

While the Clemmons Village Council has talked quite a bit recently about positive developments regarding Tanglewood Business Park, few specifics had emerged until Monday night’s meeting.

Councilman Mike Combest provided details about the possibility of a new Corporate Park Zoning District and discussed how the Village is using fact- and evidence-based research into exploring  “what type and how much of an investment should the Village make in helping bring Phase I (of the project), which is specifically Beaufurn Furniture, to fruition.”

Meanwhile, another item added late to the agenda included a conciliation agreement by the Village with Allegro Investment Properties LLC and Sylvan Road Partners LLC regarding the denial of a zoning request for a planned affordable housing development in Clemmons in 2015 and a resulting complaint filed under the Fair Housing Act.

The council unanimously approved the agreement without discussion, but any details were not disclosed during the meeting. However, a copy of the agreement shows Clemmons paying $150,000 in the settlement along with council members being required to attend one Fair Housing training each year during 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Mayor John Wait provided a statement the next day: “At last night’s council meeting of the Village of Clemmons, I signed a settlement agreement resolving allegations of discriminatory housing practices against the Village. The allegations related to a council meeting that took place on April 13th, 2015, so no current council members were involved.

“The Village of Clemmons maintains that it did not unlawfully discriminate against Allegro Investment Properties, LLC, and Sylvan Road Partners, LLC’s, zoning request. The Village remains committed to being a welcoming community and appreciates the willingness of Allegro, Sylvan, and the Human Relations Commission to settle this matter.

“Most of the $150,000 will be paid by the Village’s insurance company, and the training was required by the Human Relations Commission as part of the settlement.”

As for Tanglewood Business Park, Combest said he and other members of the council and staff met last Thursday with Forsyth County officials as they work through details on zoning and investment.

“We think we’re on the right path,”  Combest said.

He said that the new zoning district is being called a Corporate Park Zoning District and that it’s different than anything in the current Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

“If all this area of land is approved, it will go from General Industrial to Limited Industrial down to this very carefully tailored Corporate Park Zoning District,” said Combest, who added the number of uses would drop from 24 to 11. “We’ve got it to the point where we’re down to polishing up the differences.”

Combest said his recommendation would be for the council “to take a look at this and review and it as quickly as possible and ask the mayor on our behalf to communicate with the commissioners that we enthusiastically endorse and support this zoning.”

At the end of the discussion, the council agreed, by consensus, to direct a letter to the commissioners prior to today’s next meeting.

As an example of the impact, Combest said that the original proposal “had great potential to negatively impact neighboring property values, and if you do the same comparison with what’s proposed now, the impact is negligible or even has significant potential to be positive.”

He added that the number of big trucks in the original proposal was about 160,000 a year and that the new number would be drastically reduced because the uses are tailored differently.

“Regardless of how things move forward beyond the zoning of it, the zoning for this land will be very positive if the commissioners approve our current proposal,” said councilwoman Michelle Barson, who called it a unique property because of how closely it sits adjacent to large neighborhoods – Salem Glen and Clemmons West – while there are other industrial pieces adjacent to it as well.

Regarding the issue of investment, Combest said “we’ve been having significant conversations with the county commissioners and staff in the Phase I of this development. It’s a two-phased development back in this area, which is the Idols Road and, as I call it, ‘Public Works/Tanglewood corner.’ Of immediate consequence is Phase I, and that is Beaufurn Furniture.

“Beaufurn Furniture will be a great addition to this Village. They’ve got 50 employees, about an $8 million revenue stream. The issue before us is how much investment should the Village make in helping make their move to Clemmons possible.”

So now it’s a matter of looking at all the calculations, according to Combest.

“What do the numbers have?” he asked. “When will get a return on the investment? How much money should we invest, and when do our taxpayers realize the benefit?”

Annexation, which was discussed at length in the early discussions with the county and Clemmons, is obviously one of the issues again.

“If they’re not in the Village of Clemmons, there is no tax revenue for us,” Combest said.

In other business, the council:

• Called for a public hearing for the Feb. 11 meeting on a Zoning Map Amendment of Ollie Cherry from LO-S to PB-S (restaurant without drive-through service) at 3890 Littlebrook Drive – Zoning Docket C-229. Planner Megan Ledbetter said that the existing business will leave the footprint and the site map the same, but the request is for a change in zoning for use.

• Heard from Ledbetter during the planner’s report. She said that the Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing for the draft of the Comprehensive Plan on Feb. 19 with a 6 p.m. walk-in session, a 6:30 p.m. formal presentation and then the public hearing itself at 7 p.m.

• Heard from Village Manager Scott Buffkin, who said he planned to send council members a draft of agenda items to consider for the upcoming retreat, which is scheduled for Feb. 19 at Village Hall.

• Approved a Zoning Text Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to amend Chapter B, Article III, “Other Development Standards” Section II – Sign Regulations of Chapter B “Zoning” – C-UDO-80.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report, reminding everyone again that February kicks off Neighbors Helping Neighbors month, which is a month-long community effort to benefit the Clemmons Food Pantry. Also, she reported that the mayor and council will be part of a team participating in the Lewisville-Clemmons Dodgeball Tournament on Feb. 15 at the Jerry Long YMCA and in the March Madness Lip Sync Battle on March 1.

• Heard from Jack Brandt, who lives in the Village Club subdivision, during the public comments portion of the meeting. He expressed concerns over piles of dirt in front and on the side of a house at the YMCA location on Peace Haven Road and the possible runoff of water coming off that dirt and into his yard and those of others in the neighborhood across the street after whatever happens to that house.