Council OKs proposal for plan: Original recommendation approved for comprehensive Plan Update

Published 12:10 am Thursday, May 16, 2019

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

After the Clemmons Village Council continued the public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Update in consecutive meetings in April, the board ultimately decided to stay with the staff’s recommendation along with a few other modifications in Monday night’s meeting.

That went against developer Stan Forester’s request for revising the land use for a proposed project on the western side of Lewisville-Clemmons Road near River Center Drive from the current Mixed Use Residential and Neighborhood Residential uses to Highway Commercial and Mixed Use Commercial.

Planner Megan Ledbetter said that the staff’s recommendation came from the Councils of Governments and not the modification that was proposed by Forester.

“They went with the original recommendation for the plan,” Ledbetter said of the unanimous vote by the Council.

Other modifications included making a change in the wording of a section to “Transportation and Linear Parks” along with a revised vision statement and correcting a couple of grammatical errors.

Forester’s request for Highway Commercial and Mixed Use Commercial were two of the four possible land uses for the property, which is 38 total acres but with only 2.5 acres in Clemmons.

Ledbetter said that Forester’s request called for Highway Commercial along the frontage of the property and Mixed Use Commercial along the rear (compared with the current Mixed Use Residential along the frontage and Neighborhood Residential 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 possibly do a senior living/assisted living complex similar to the one recently built off Harper Road.

Forester said that some local businesses have expressed interest in relocating along the stretch of property up front on Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

Councilman Chris Wrights said in Monday night’s meeting that the current land uses should cover much of what Forester has mentioned as possible uses for the property.

“Changing it to Highway Commercial goes far beyond what should go there and opens up a whole can of worms, and goes completely against what the citizens of Clemmons have told us they desire for that area,” Wrights said.

Despite not having the land-use modification approved by the Council, Forester has already taken steps to continue with his development — which has 94 percent of the property in Forsyth County — by making a de-annexation request of the 2.5 acres in Clemmons to the N.C. Legislature with the intent to develop the land through the county’s zoning auspices.

In a recent meeting, Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that bills introduced in the State Senate and House would essentially accomplish that if approved.

The Council adopted a resolution opposed to the proposed de-annexation — stating 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.”

The item — House Bill 392 — is on the calendar before the House Finance Committee this week in Raleigh. Buffkin said that he would like for the Council to direct staff to send a copy of the recent resolution approved by the Council to all the members of that committee and to have someone there to represent the Village at that meeting on Wednesday. Councilman Mike Combest agreed to attend.

Councilwoman Michelle Barson asked that the resolution also be sent to the Forsyth County commissioners and also requested for Clemmons to direct staff to make it “as attractive as possible” for Forester to consider annexing into the Village pre-development, which was approved.

“The implications of House Bill 392 / Senate Bill 205 go far beyond Stan Forester, the developer, not wanting to serve the ‘two masters’ as he has shared with us and our state representatives many times,” Barson said in a statement. “This bill, sponsored in part by the following members of our state legislature — Deborah Conrad, Lee Zachary, Donny Lambeth and Joyce Krawiec — tells any developer that if your plan doesn’t comply with local regulations, zoning requirements or future land use plans, that you can go to the General Assembly and request de-annexation to a less stringent, neighboring jurisdiction.”

Regarding the proposed project, Barson added that “the petitioner will tell you that only a small percentage of the property he wishes to develop is in Clemmons, but 50 percent of his linear frontage is in Clemmons and on Lewisville-Clemmons Road, which is our busiest road with approximately 32,000 vehicular trips per day — a dream come true for any business.”

In other business, Ledbetter, who has announced her resignation as planner (the May 28 meeting will be her last one), had nine items on her planner’s report.

She presented and received approval for a Department of Commerce funding opportunity ($100,000 to $250,000) to develop a cohesive wayfinding program for the business community to direct motorists to specific locales as well as additional and upgraded signage for the Village, and take a portion of the funds and possibly use them for the façade grant program.

Ledbetter said that Publix had recently asked about directional signage to its store from Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

She also provided updates on the Transportation Plan and Smart Sheets along with the Winston-Salem UDO progress and Kinnamon Bridge Feasibility Study. Also, the farmer’s market, which has shifted to Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Village Hall, is now open for 2019.

Finally, the low bid of $44,350 from CKJ Building & Design LLC for the Valve Building, which is part of Phase IA of the Market Center Drive, was approved.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a request to the Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Advisory Committee for reallocation of funding of an additional $630,400 for the Highway 158 Sidewalk/Yadkin River project while deleting funding for two other projects that could be filled by other means or at a later date, as discussed in the previous Council meeting. As Ledbetter stated at the time: “Basically it’s a reallocation of funding for the 158 project from Middlebrook to Tanglewood with two lateral greenway connections into the park.”

• Continued a public hearing for Zoning Map Amendment of AAA Storage from LO-S (professional office) to GB-S (General Business-Special Use) (Storage Services, Retail) — Zoning Docket C-230 — on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. The staff recommendation was for denial while the Planning Board approved the zoning by a 4-3 vote and site plan by a 5-2 vote. Opponents to the project included Jonathan Lee, who was representing Clemmons Village Professional Center — a group of office condominiums located next door. Lee said he didn’t think it wasn’t a fit for the long-term vision plan for the Village and not the best use for the property. Forester, who said his company manages the Clemmons Village Professional Center, also spoke in opposition — saying it wouldn’t help their property values, doesn’t meet the Comprehensive Plan and borders residential property. Several Council members spoke, saying there was nothing wrong with having the storage center but it was just the wrong location.

• Approved a Zoning Text Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to Electronic Sweepstakes definition and amortization schedule (C-UDO-81), stating that electronic sweepstakes operations shall not be permitted as a principal or accessory use in any zoning district within the Village of Clemmons going forward. This applies to any potential new businesses, although current businesses can continue to operate.

• Heard from Buffkin regarding the street modification update, or “traffic calming policy.” He said that staff has met with Barson and councilwoman P.J. Lofland on a number of occasions and that a policy has been put together “in a good draft state at this point” and asked Kimley-Horn to review it and make any final recommendations. The hope is that it could be on the agenda for an upcoming meeting.

• Approved the 2018-19 fiscal year Stormwater Capital Improvement Program rankings, led by Spring Path and followed by Breckingridge, Greenbrook, Doublegate, Tanglebrook, Mendelssohn, Glengarriff, Parkdale, Haywood, Knob Hill, Springvalley, Boyer and Tanglebrook No. 2.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the fifth annual Clemmons Ice Cream Festival will be Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Morgan Elementary School, and the next Movie Night in the Village will be “Small Foot” on Friday, May 31 at the Jerry Long YMCA.

• The next Clemmons Village Council meeting will be on Tuesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. instead of the usual fourth Monday night, which is Memorial Day.