Clemmons takes next step for sidewalk

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Event center still drawing scrutiny

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

While continuing to keep a close watch on a proposed $5 million, 50,000-square-foot agricultural multi-use event center at Tanglewood Park, the Clemmons Village Council keeps moving forward with a project just across the way — adding a sidewalk along Harper Road from Fair Oaks to Morgan Elementary School.

In its first meeting in July, the council directed Village Manager Scott Buffkin to “get the ball rolling” on this sidewalk project, and he reported in Monday night’s meeting that progress has been made in conversations involving he and Mike Gunnell, Public Works director and village engineer, with DOT officials.

“One of the questions we had was could the design be done with staff using grant money and the answer was yes,” Gunnell said of the project, which has a price tag of $600,000. “If we want to be reimbursed for in-house fees, we can, or we can leave the money in this project.”

They also learned there is a new environmental assessment required for endangered species, which includes animals and plants, and that could impact how quickly the village can proceed.

“With this particular plant, based on what it is, there are specific times you can do your assessment,” Gunnell said. “This one is a sunflower. I believe they can only do the assessment for this particular plant from August to October. If we miss that window, then we have to wait another year.”

So, as Buffkin stated, “We’ll have to do it soon.” If not, sunflowers could delay the start date.

“We just wanted to give you guys an update of what has transpired,” said Buffkin, who added another meeting was scheduled with DOT officials this week. “We’re moving forward as quickly as can be done.”

As for the event center, a second community meeting held by Forsyth County staff on the project was held last Wednesday night at the Forsyth County Government Center to provide information and answer questions.

This was similar to the session the previous week at the Red Barn in Tanglewood, where a large crowd packed the barn and loudly voiced opposition to the project coming to the park.

After getting word on the event center possibly coming to Tanglewood, the council formed a committee made up of council members Mary Cameron and Michelle Barson to find out what exactly was going on and to get more details.

“I attended the one downtown, and it was not a whole lot different from what we heard out here,” Cameron said in Monday night’s meeting. “Ms. Barson and I have talked and probably the best thing for us to do is to sit down and make up a list of questions that we have, and then we will get in touch with the county commissioners and see where they stand and where we go from here.”

Barson added, “We’re as informed really as the rest of public up to this point, even with other conversations in addition to it. It’s been a staff-driven project to this point, so the commissioners weren’t as involved with it either to this point in time, but certainly that will change now. So there will be more fruitful discussions to come, I believe.”

County Manager Dudley Watts said in the July 28 meeting at Tanglewood, after being bombarded with questions and comments from residents concerned over property values, increased traffic and changing the character of the park, that the county “will not put it here if you don’t want it here.

“If this community doesn’t want the facility, I don’t believe the county commissioners would put it here.”

Now, the focus shifts from the county staff to the commissioners to figure out what’s next.

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

• Approved a Zoning Map Amendment for real property owned by Kakewalk LLC from PB-S (Pedestrian Business-Special) to PB-S (Pedestrian Business-Special) — after a public hearing where no one spoke — for property addressed 1415 River Ridge Drive, consisting of 1.05 acres (Zoning Docket C-241).

• Approved to repeal a speed limit of 45 mph to return to 35 mph for a portion of Lasater Road at the request of NCDOT.

• Approved Resolution 2021-R-10 authorizing an increase in the micro-purchasing threshold.

• Approved Ordinance 2021-14 establishing an exemption for architecture, engineering, surveying and other services for federal projects to the higher state limits.

• Heard from Buffkin that the village has received the first payment of just over $3.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds with the next payment coming next year. He reiterated that the village “still feels like for the most part that stormwater is going to be the main use of our funds.”

• Approved the purchase of a salt brine system from Carolina Industrial Equipment.

• Heard from Planner Nasser Rahimzadeh that a proposed multi-family development across from Holder Road will be going before the Planning Board next week — requesting an annexation petition to operate under village standards.

• Also heard from Rahimzadeh that he has spoken with Greg Garrett, who represents the applicant for a preliminary major subdivision, Griffindell, off of Idols Road. The proposed 18-lot, single-family development on 9.78 acres was met by mixed reviews from the council in the June 28 meeting, resulting in a vote to table. Rahimzadeh said that Garrett has asked to push it out again and is continuing to look at revisions based on concerns addressed by the council.

• Heard from Buffkin that after the approval of the Lake at Belmont project on Lewisville-Clemmons Road in the spring that he has been working with the Utilities Commission and has a drafted agreement to extend sewer — and also has a verbal agreement with Chris Parr of Parr Investments on his part. Buffkin said he hoped to have all the details worked out for an upcoming meeting.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the Marketing/Communications report that the Farmers Market continues to average 400 or more customers each Saturday morning at the Jerry Long YMCA.  In upcoming events, another Movie Night in the Village is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, when “Night at the Museum” will be shown at the Jerry Long Family YMCA at sunset, and The Dirty Dozen & Clemmons Bash is scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 25.

• Accepted the resignation from Ronald Wertheim from the Zoning Board of Adjustment and appointed Karen Summers from being an alternate member to a regular board member.

• Heard that Robert Pike has accepted a position as Stormwater Technician I and will start in September or October.