Problem: Traffic around schools

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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Village to reach out to school board

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

Traffic along Lewisville-Clemmons Road and adjoining arteries is always a concern, but it seems like it’s gotten even worse these days around Holder Road and the three schools in the area.

Sgt. Brian Gieger, the head of the Clemmons community policing division of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, gave a report during Monday night’s village council meeting about traffic problems associated with buses and vehicles navigating the gridlock on the roads around West Forsyth High School (with some 2,500 students), Southwest Elementary School and the Montessori School.

Gieger said he met with several supervisors over the School Resource Officer program to seek solutions on how to deal with issues including the flow of buses, vehicles dropping off and picking up their kids, and not enough people to direct traffic.

“From what I understand, the school system is well aware of the issue,” Gieger said. “It’s not just schools here, it’s schools pretty much all over Forsyth County. People concerned in reference to traffic, they need to write letters or go to the school board in reference to this issue.”

Gieger said that the sheriff’s office was tasked with handling school crossing duties at the beginning of the school year for roughly 10 schools because there wasn’t anybody available.

“After two weeks, they stopped doing that,” he said. “At West Forsyth, the last time I heard they got one teacher who puts on a traffic vest that goes out to try and help our with traffic and that’s it.”

Gieger mentioned another example of parents dropping off their kids for school.

“They’ll be coming from Lewisville headed toward Clemmons, and they’ll drop their kid off in the middle of Lewisville-Clemmons Road,” he said, “and their kid has to dart across the road to get to school.”

In addition to school traffic lined up and down Lewisville-Clemmons Road during the busiest times in the morning and afternoon, others are trying to get in and out of neighborhoods and going to work.

Councilwoman Mary Cameron said she got a letter recently from a resident concerned about the situation.

“We don’t have any control over the school system,” she said. “We can ask them to do something. This is not a problem the village council can solve.”

Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that staff would be willing to reach out to the school board and make sure they are aware this is a concern and what’s going in that area along with Clemmons Elementary School and other similar situations.

Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council called for two public hearings in the Nov. 8 meeting for Zoning Docket C-245 (Clemmons Apartments and Commercial Annexation and Rezoning) and Zoning Docket C-246 (Main Street Village Point Apartments Rezoning):

The Zoning Map Amendment of real property owned by Robert and William Vogler, Impulse Energy II LLC and Milo White Investments LLC from RS-30 (Residential, Single-Family) and LB-S (Limited Business – Special) to RM-12-S (Residential, Multifamily – Special) and GB-S (General Business – Special), located at the corner of Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Immanuel Road, consisting of 35.20 acres (Zoning Docket C-245).

The Zoning Map Amendment of real property owned by Main Street Village Point LLC from PB-S (Pedestrian Business – Special) to PB-S (Pedestrian Business – Special), located at 3060 Village Point Drive, consisting of 6.62 acres (Zoning Docket C-246).

In the planning board meeting on Oct. 19, Zoning Docket C-246 was recommended for approval along with adopting the consistency statement for the multifamily housing complex with 160 units.

However, Zoning Docket C-245 was recommended for denial along with adopting the inconsistency statement for the multi-use development. There were 70 people in attendance at village hall for the meeting, which lasted two and a half hours.

Two proponents represented the petitioner/developer during the public hearing while nine opponents stated their objections to the project, which included concerns over increased traffic, public safety, school overcrowding, environmental impact/flooding potential and not wanting more commercial development in addition to 296 apartments.

Many other letters and petitions were sent to the village in opposition to the use for the property — which includes 10.14 acres of commercial and 25.06 acres of residential development. The petitioner for the project is requesting the following uses: residential building (multifamily), restaurant with drive-through service, drug store, general merchandise store, medical and surgical offices, and convenience store.

Butch Dapolito, who lives on Kenbridge Drive, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting on his opposition to the project.

“My concern is that we continue doing development at the expense of the downstream homeowners’ properties,” he said. “If we’re going to ask the creek to accept more watershed from all the development in Lewisville and Clemmons, we need to invest in some infrastructure in the creek, and I don’t see nothing like that happening.”

In another item on the agenda, Buffkin said that the village did get an updated offer of $750,000 from Henson Realty LLC to purchase the 14.7-acre property at 2848 Harper Road, but the Council again voted to reject it.

Buffkin reported in the Oct. 11 meeting that an offer of $600,000, considered to be the minimum bid, had been received from Henson Realty LLC on the property that the town bought in 2007 but that it included a request to extend costly utilities to the tract.

Buffkin said he received an estimate a year or so ago that it would cost approximately $250,000 to extend sewer to that property. And while rejecting that offer, the village decided to pursue the extension “and set $600,000 plus whatever our actual cost is to extend that utility as a new opening bid.”

Buffkin said he had reached out to the utilities commission but had not yet received an updated estimate. After rejecting the most recent offer, the council decided to keep the property on the market and accept any “clean bids” while still considering how to proceed.

The council also decided not to take action on Resolution 2021-R-15 Supporting the Goal for 100% Clean Renewable Energy by 2050 — an item that was presented in the previous meeting.

Councilman Chris Wrights said that with the village planning to start an environmental committee, this might be something the new group could eventually take on. Forsyth County and Lewisville have already passed similar resolutions.

Cameron said she agreed overall with the concept of clean and renewable energy but had concerns about the words “where feasible” included in the resolution.

“It may take years if we change anything over because of those two words,” Cameron said. “If these are things we can do that are within our budget and will help our community, I’m all for it. If we are creating an environmental committee, this is something we would want them to look at first. I don’t see any harm in waiting.”

Rogers agreed that it had to be “feasible,” adding, “I think we let the new committee give us ideas and guide us as to what is feasible for a small municipality to accomplish going green.”

Councilwoman Michelle Barson added, “The committee might actually be able to give us something more than just a lofty goal but maybe something truly achievable.”

In the public comments earlier in the meeting, Charles Sherrill said he was strongly opposed to the resolution, stating: “My objection is to the Village of Clemmons bending the knee to the climate change death call and committing future councils to a proclamation that will turn up as Exhibit A in every high-density zoning dispute for the next 30 years.”

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

• Approved the first 50/50 cost-share agreement at 2500 Newington Drive, which was the first private property stormwater project in the new program. RCJ Contractors won the low bid at $7,680, and the homeowner split the cost. Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, said that other projects are already in the queue.

• Adopted Resolution 2021-R-17 to fix the date of a public hearing to Nov. 8 regarding a voluntary annexation request by Mid-Atlantic Commercial Properties LLC.

• Appointed Erin Rega to fill the regular seat and David Corn to the alternate seat on the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

• Appointed Scott Binkley to the Historic Resources Commission.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the Marketing/Communications report that more than 500 customers came out for the final farmers market last Saturday morning at the Jerry Long Family YMCA, which was Harvest Fest and featured music by The Kollards. The Clemmons Fall CleanUp is underway, and the Monster Dash & Goblin Hop will be concluding this week. The Fall Medicine Drop will be a drive-through event on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Public Works Facility at 3800 Dillon Industrial Drive. The Holiday Pop-Up Market will be Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Y, and the Annual Tree Lighting will be Tuesday, Nov. 30, at village hall. Ford also introduced Lynette Fox, who was recently hired as event coordinator.