Council rolls out plan for speeding issue

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 11, 2019

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By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As the Clemmons Village Council rolled out the first draft of a new Street Modification Guide Monday night, a homeowner on Gardenspring Drive — one of the streets that helped push Clemmons to look at a comprehensive plan for lowering vehicle speeds and helping pedestrian safety in neighborhoods — said that his road would be happy to help launch the initiative.

“Our situation has not improved, in fact it’s gotten a little more hostile at times,” said Bob Dorsch, who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting representing residents on Gardenspring Drive, which was part of the Council agenda several times late last year seeking a solution for a longtime speeding problem on their street. “So we’d like to volunteer to be a prototype and help with any design issues. And if you want to try something, by golly, we’re the place to try it. Let’s do it.”

After hearing repeatedly from Gardenspring residents seeking traffic-calming measures because they no longer felt safe on their street because of excessive speeding, the Council discussed creating a comprehensive plan while looking at solving issues on individual streets.

Jonathan Guy, an engineer from Kimley-Horn, was on hand for Monday night’s meeting to lead the street modification policy discussion.

“The major topic that really comes out of this is really the impetus, for projects like this and guidelines, is speed,” said Guy, who said his company looked at the situation from an engineer’s eye but also from a planner’s eye to provide guidance and procedures for residents to pursue modifications in their neighborhoods on existing streets maintained by Clemmons.

Guy said that the guide reflects a restructured process where residents of the community or a home owners association can initiate a request for street modifications and a study, which Village staff and the Transportation Committee will address — working through the Council as appropriate.

Guy went through the steps in the process, which would include the initial contact and project viability determination, Transportation Committee review, engineering study/review, street modification plan development, community support/public hearing and Council approval.

“This manual is amazing,” Mayor John Wait said. “Like for a first draft, first start, it’s much needed and has really good context for this conversation.”

Wait recognized councilwoman Michelle Barson for carrying “the lion’s share of this thing to this point.” She added that Public Works Director Mike Gunnell was instrumental in putting together a very thorough draft.

The next step will be for Gunnell to work with Guy on a revised draft, hopefully ready by the next meeting July 22, factoring in some of the comments and minor changes proposed from Monday night’s meeting.

“The sooner we can get this solidified and voted on to move forward with … and some of these roads are really already halfway through the process, so it will be fast-tracked,” Barson said.

In another item added to the agenda, Village Manager Scott Buffkin provided an update on the new library, stating he, Wait and councilman Mike Combest met recently with Forsyth County officials.

Buffkin said that they were told that the construction manager at-risk has delivered a guaranteed maximum price and that the county commissioners will consider adoption on July 25.

As construction costs have continued to soar, Buffkin added items that have been “value-engineered out of the project” include lowering the ceiling height somewhat along with deleting the pergolas that were to added around the patio area on the back.

He said that the cost of the pergolas attached to the building were deleted at a savings of $80,000 and the ones on the edge of patio to the south side were deleted at a savings of $47,000.

“The ones on the edge of the patio could be added on after the fact if there’s money saved in the process, however the ones that are closest to the building, due to foundation and the fact they will be attached to the roof, cannot be added after the fact,” Buffkin said. “I’m not suggesting that the Village should do any investment in that facility at this point, but if we are interested in seeing those items included, especially the ones that are attached to the building, we need to get that across pretty quickly.”

Barson said that the library does accept donations, and if given in advance of construction, they could be used to engineer back in pieces that may be engineered out — such as the attached pergola.

Also in the public comments portion of the meeting, a group of residents from Arden Drive came to express concerns about the condition of a house and property on the corner at Hampton Road and the potential impact on property values.

“It is an eyesore to our street, to our community and to the health of our citizens,” said Rex Pass, who has lived on Arden Drive since 1957. “It hasn’t been maintained in years. It looks like the Amazon moved to Clemmons. The street is about a mile long, and it’s a dead end, and the first thing people see when they come on that street is that house on the right.”

Pass said that “there is unbelievable growth and assorted junk, truckloads. It’s not just something you can walk through. You can barely see an unused swimming pool with growth all around it, stagnant water, mosquitos galore.”

He added that a court order needs to be made for a property inspection.

“This problem has been ignored long enough,” Pass said. “People have complained and complained, but nobody ever takes them to task.”

Dee Wood, another resident on the street, said that she had photos of the property in question at 6188 Arden Drive and added “even if we helped and cleaned everything up, it would be right back because obviously they don’t care. When I called the town, they’d say, ‘oh, we know the house.’ Something needs to be done.”

Wait said he was aware of the house, and that it isn’t the only one in Clemmons with this situation.

“Right now, it’s my understanding that we simply don’t have the tools to deal with these kinds of issues,” Wait said. “I want you to know we hear you, and we’re working on it.”

Currently, Clemmons defaults to Forsyth County to enforce anything relating to housing conditions.

“I hear you, and I’ve heard others,” Barson said in Council comments. “It is something I think the Village of Clemmons needs to consider taking on the responsibility of, but that takes resources and how best to enforce an ordinance like that.”

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the Council:

• Approved a resolution for an Interlocal Agreement with the City of Winston-Salem for a feasibility study on the Lewisville-Clemmons Road Interchange/Kinnamon Bridge.

• Welcomed Nasser Rahimzadeh, who was hired recently as the new planning and community development director for Clemmons, to his first Council meeting.

• Heard from Buffkin about receiving just one bid of $283,700 from DreamBuilt Construction of Advance for a Public Works wash bay, which is a requirement of the Village’s stormwater program. It could be an agenda item for the next meeting.