Clemmons, Griffindell project at impasse

Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Council votes to table action on subdivision

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

A preliminary major subdivision presented for Griffindell, a proposed 18-lot, single-family development on 9.78 acres off of Idols Road, was met by mixed reviews by the Clemmons Village Council in Monday night’s meeting, resulting in a vote “to table indefinitely.”

Points of contention for Zoning Docket C-21-001 included a staff request from the applicant to install curb and gutter as well as provide direct access from the subdivision to Idols Road.

Planner Nasser Rahimzadeh said that the project received approval from the Planning Board in a 5-4 vote “with the recommendation that they meet the minor issues that staff noted and still be 100% compliant with the UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) and also to provide some way of giving access to Idols Road. Their recommendation was to dedicate right of way, but staff’s recommendation is still to have them construct right of way.”

Greg Garrett, an engineer representing the applicant, said that constructing an access road to Idols Road was a “deal breaker” but that he “could work with the curb and gutter” part of the impasse.

After presentations from Rahimzadeh and Garrett, followed by discussion with the mayor and council, it was ultimately decided to table taking any action with three council members — Michelle Barson, Scott Binkley and Chris Wrights — saying they would like to see how the final proposal would look like with curb and gutter, and without the access road.

Rahimzadeh said that the project “meets a lot of the ordinance requirements but it fails to meet our request for a direct public access and the concern we have for that is this is an attachment to the Idolwood subdivision to an attachment to Bluestone.”

Councilwoman Mary Cameron said that having a direct road to Idols Road “is a must because it’s a safety factor,” and councilman Mike Rogers said that he was “dead set” on curb and gutter to have a uniform look with the neighboring communities and “having another access point to Idols Road.”

Wrights said that he “kind of” agreed on the curb and gutter part but had a hard time justifying the request of requiring a road out to Idols Road.

“We don’t have an ordinance that requires that,” he said, adding the council didn’t make Idolwood do that.

Garrett said that he was hopeful of reaching some kind of compromise as “building a road out to Idols Road is not something that is actually feasible for a nine-acre tract of land.”

He added he looked forward to talking further with Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, to try “to figure something out.”

In another item on the agenda, the council received an update on the Clemmons Fire Department’s annual report for fiscal year 2020-21 from councilwoman Mary Cameron, who attended last week’s annual meeting.

Cameron said that Clemmons ranked tied for second among the area’s 16 units for fastest response time and that there was a total property loss from fire of $495,400 last year but the amount saved was $66,817,600.

“That’s a pretty good record,” Cameron said. “All in all, I think we can all sleep well tonight. We’ve got a fantastic fire department that is doing a great job by the numbers. This happens year after year after year.”

The fire protection rate for the village is 6 cents per $100 valuation.

Clemmons has two fire stations that are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are a total of 43 people working in the two stations for a department that covers 28 square miles of land and serves 30,000 residents along with 1,137 commercial properties, 78 of which are unoccupied.

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

• Heard from Elliot Fus in the attorney’s report regarding the Market Center Drive right of way involving the commercial property to the east of Wells Fargo, saying things “looking good to get an agreement and that they are good with our terms.” However, without a signature yet following sending a 30-day letter, councilman Mike Rogers asked — considering a looming construction deadline — about giving them “a drop-dead date of the next meeting and if they haven’t come through and signed the papers, then we take action.” Village Manager Scott Buffkin said, “I think that’s absolutely doable. I think we still have a small window of time remaining if they truly follow through, but the time is growing very short.”

• Approved by a 4-1 margin (with councilman Chris Wrights opposed) for a $50,000 pedestrian study through the Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

• Appointed Rob Cockrum, Kevin Farmer and Lanny Farmer to the Planning Board.

• Appointed Christian Griffith and Anabelle McElroy to regular seats on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Karen Summers to the alternate seat.

• Approved a Zoning Text Amendment to amend multiple sections in Chapter A Definition Ordinance, Chapter B Zoning Ordinance and Chapter D Subdivision Ordinance of the Unified Development Ordinances per changes to N.C. General Statutes (C-UDO-83).

• Approved two Clemmons Code of Ordinances — Ordinance 2021-09 Amending Clemmons Code Chapter 31: Departments, Board and Commissions; and Ordinance 2021-11 Amending Clemmons Code Chapter 51: Stormwater Utility.

• Approved a contract for $17,595 with Gibson & Company, P.A. for audit services.

• Discussed getting more clarity in dealing with minor subdivisions, whether it is village ordinances, state law and addressing whatever else can be done.

• Discussed parking lot parameters in the village, at the suggestion of Barson, and how to make them not so large going forward. Cameron said that since she has lived in Clemmons, she has only seen “one parking lot completely full one time and it was Kmart at Christmas years ago.” Buffkin said he has heard about many communities that are now looking at parking lot maximums instead of minimums. Buffkin added he would bring some alternatives and options for consideration at an upcoming meeting.

• Heard in the marketing/communications report that there will be a Movie Night in the village on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. when The Sandlot will be shown at the Jerry Long Family YMCA.