Council opposes de-annexation for development

Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 11, 2019

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

While the Clemmons Village Council adopted a resolution in Monday night’s meeting opposing de-annexation for a small segment of land in the Village limits for a proposed development on 38 acres on the western side of Lewisville-Clemmons Road near River Center Drive, it continued a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Update involving a possible land-use amendment for the property in question.

Instead of agreeing to a request from Stan Forester for the de-annexation of 2.5 acres of land at that prime location, the Council has maintained its preference for the developer annexing the larger portion of the tract in the unincorporated area of Forsyth County into the Village.

The resolution states that Clemmons and its citizens “should receive the benefit of the property being developed to the Village’s standards as well as the property tax revenue as required to balance any consequences new developments bring.”

It further states that the Village adopts this resolution in opposition to Senate Bill 205, House Bill 392 or any other bills addressing the same property and that this document will be transmitted to the members of the General Assembly to assure their knowledge of the Village’s position.

Forester has made a de-annexation request of the 2.5 acres from Clemmons to the N.C. Legislature with the intent to develop the land through the county’s zoning auspices. Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that bills introduced in the State Senate and House that would essentially accomplish that.

Forester, who developed the nearby River Ridge Shopping Center, said that the primary reason he filed for de-annexation is because 94 percent of this property is in Forsyth County.

Forester said that as a businessman, developer and builder, he has a couple of differences in philosophy with Clemmons planner Megan Ledbetter — including his dislike of the backs of buildings on the road frontage being visible — “the reason being is because it’s not attractive” and that “businesses require visibility.”

When asked by councilwoman P.J. Lofland why he wouldn’t want the property to be annexed into Clemmons, Forester said, “I’ve been misled twice by Clemmons. I don’t trust them. I love Clemmons. I have a problem working with Clemmons. I think you have a problem listening to me. I’m not saying my way is right or Megan’s way is right. I’m just saying it’s a difference in philosophy. I have tried at a tremendous cost to work with you, and I have not been successful. I don’t trust the Council — by bringing in and annexing in, I will not have a successful development.”

The public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Update, which included a request by Forester earlier this year to the Planning Board for revising the land use for the property in question from Mixed Residential to commercial/high density/multifamily to allow his plan for development, was held earlier in the meeting.

Forester requested Mixed Use Commercial and Highway Commercial, which were two of the four possible land uses for the property. The Planning Board approved the Draft Comprehensive Plan at its March meeting, subject to modification of the land use requested by Forester for the property.

Ledbetter said that Forester’s request calls for Highway Commercial along the frontage of the property and Mixed Use Commercial along the rear.

During the public hearing, Forester said that the property would be developed to a “higher standard” along the road, including a stoplight, and that he wanted the Mixed Use Commercial designation along the rear because he wanted the flexibility to do a senior living/assisted living complex similar to the one recently built off Harper Road. He said he had been in conversations with three national companies.

Lofland asked about a possible use being a large apartment complex, to which Forester replied, “That’s not my first choice at all.”

Forester said that some local businesses have expressed interest in relocating along the stretch of property up front on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. He mentioned Piedmont Federal Savings & Loan as one possibility but wouldn’t provide any other names.

Concerns were expressed by the Council about the impact of more traffic in the area, particularly with the close proximity of schools and other commercial development, but Forester said that he had a traffic study completed that showed even with the most intensive, high-volume uses that there would be no negative impact on traffic.

Council members asked if they could have a copy of the traffic study, and Forester said that it was in the draft stage and that he could make it available.

The Council then decided to continue the public hearing until the next meeting on Monday, April 22, to review the traffic study and consider information provided in Monday night’s meeting.

“I’d like to offer just as a sentiment that we’re not going to do anything more important than land use,” said councilman Mike Combest. “The more we look at this and debate it, the better answer we’re going to get.”

In the Comprehensive Plan Update, the Council heard from Jesse Day, regional planning director of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, on survey results and key themes, goals and action items going forward.

The original Clemmons Community Compass document was completed in 2010, and as Day said, “There have been a lot of changes with growth in your population and the areas around you, lots of transportation changes, so it’s a good time to go through an update.”

The priority action items included updating the Village Transportation Plan with the Transportation Committee; Manage Future Growth Areas; Develop Parks and Greenways; Improve Design of Clemmons Road; and Construct Community Greenways, Develop Community Gathering Spaces and Village Branding.

Key themes included Transportation and Parks; Future Land Use; Quality of Life; and Economic and Community Development.

Nearly 600 individuals participated in a survey involving multiple choice and open-ended questions.

Highlights included 274 respondents replying that the Lewisville-Clemmons Road strip was clearly the most needed road improvement (better access to I-40 was second with 27 votes) and that a closer rate of growth was preferred for commercial (54 percent), residential (50 percent) and industrial (38 percent) growth.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a resolution to support the countywide fire protection service agreement including a statement that the Village will agree up to the current 3-cent self-imposed cap established by the county commissioners.

• Received an update from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on a LIDAR unit (which stands for Light Detection and Ranging) that will be used for traffic enforcement in Clemmons. The new equipment, which is used for speed enforcement, allows patrol deputies to pinpoint specific vehicles using a laser instead of the radar. “It will help them to enforce the traffic laws more effectively here in Clemmons and hopefully get everyone to slow down a little bit more,” said Jacob Williams, who heads up the county’s DWI Task Force.

• Approved the Phase IA budget for the Market Center Drive project.

• Approved a contract of $77,640 with the Kercher Group for a pavement management system.

• Approved accepting a grant of $6,000 for the Community Waste Reduction and Recycling Grant, which was less than the original $13,375, and will include a $10,719 match from Clemmons for a total project cost of $16,719 for a concrete pad and 20-yard multi-item recycling container. This would provide a drop-off recycling option for plastic, aluminum and paper for apartments, condos and townhomes for which carts are not an option. Operating costs are estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 annually for an estimated two hauls a month.

• Approved retaining the services of Cannon & Company for audit services.

• Scheduled budget workshop dates of May 6 at 6 p.m. and May 13 at 4 p.m., and June 12 at 6 p.m. for Fair Housing training.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report regarding upcoming events in Clemmons — the annual spring cleanup on Saturday, April 27, starting at 8 a.m.; and the first Movie Night of the Year, also on April 27, which will be “Ralph Breaks the Internet” at the Jerry Long YMCA.