Clemmons agrees on sewer extension

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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Mike Combest nominated to fill approaching opening on council

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons Village Council moved forward in last Monday night’s meeting with a new sewer extension agreement with The Lake at Belmont LLC and also brought back a familiar face to the council with the nomination of Mike Combest to fill the upcoming vacated seat of Mayor-elect Mike Rogers.

Combest served a four-year term on the council from 2015 to 2019 but chose not to seek re-election two years ago. Rogers, who is in the middle of a four-year term on the council, was elected as the new mayor in the Nov. 2 election and will be sworn in during the Dec. 13 organizational meeting.

Combest will join incumbents Michelle Barson and Mary Cameron, who were just elected to four-year terms, and newcomer Bradley Taylor, who was third in the voting and received a two-year term. Chris Wrights, who is the middle of a four-year term, rounds out the revised board.

Barson nominated Combest to fill the remaining two years of Rogers’ term, and the motion was unanimously approved by council.

Meanwhile, the council approved the sewer agreement between Clemmons and The Lake at Belmont LLC, represented by Chris Parr, who is the developer for a 360-unit, multi-family development on 38.48 acres located at 1930 Lewisville-Clemmons Road that was approved along with a voluntary annexation request in December 2020.

“This would take a first step toward extending gravity sewer up to the Blanket Bottom area,” said Village Manager Scott Buffkin.

In addition, the village agreed to enter into a interlocal agreement with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities to commence the design phase of the project.

The terms of the original contract, with an estimated $1.1 million cost for the sewer extension, presented Monday night called for the owner (Parr) to pay the village $500,000 in two installments of $250,000 but that the owner’s contribution “may increase or decrease proportionately, if the cost of the design, permitting, construction and acquisition for the extension is more or less than the estimated cost.”

Buffkin said that the breakdown for the proposal called for the village to pay 55% and Parr 45%, and that the dollars could change with the bid price. However, Parr, who was present for the meeting, said he wanted his offer set at $500,000.

“I purchased the property knowing there were development costs that would go along the deal, but I want to offer $500,000,” Parr said of his financial commitment for the sewer extension. “That’s it, plus or minus. I went to the rezoning a year ago to put in a lift station as a backup plan, which I’ll just tell you the truth, I don’t want to do that. I want to do the gravity-fed sewer. Makes sense. It’s good for me, good for you guys. I just need a set price. There’s enough fluctuation going on. I think it’s a fair deal for everybody.”

Barson said, “I’m personally not comfortable with that,” adding she has concerns over future uncertainty, including inflation and rising costs. “I’d rather have the percentile and share the risk.”

Rogers countered by saying, “On the other side of it, this would give us $500,000 additional dollars to get the sewer line started up to Blanket Bottom on the western side of Lewisville-Clemmons Road east of Harper (Road).”

Buffkin said that in his discussions with the utilities administration, “they would likely extend to the northern side of the (Parr) property and would upsize the pipe at no expense to us so that it would further serve the properties to the north along Blanket Creek.”

He added that there is a mix of properties in that area but most are outside of Clemmons.

“I see this is as being something of a template that we could use to enhance those properties to come into the village since the State Legislature did away with city-initiated annexation, and we really have no other way of enticing those folks into coming into the village. In my mind, it’s a way of converting money that we have in a restricted fund, the Sewer Reserve Fund, into the General Fund.”

Before making his motion for the Lake at Belmont LLC to be responsible for paying the flat rate of $500,000 with two $250,000 payments, Rogers said he didn’t want to see an independent lift station going in because of it being a future problem and having to get it fixed, not knowing how long the area would be without sewer.

The motion passed 3-1 with Barson being opposed to amended sewer agreement and also to the interlocal agreement with the utilities administration, which was approved by the same margin.

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

• Approved a resolution opposing high-density development in the area around the intersection of Lewisville-Clemmons and Holder roads — urging that development in this area of Forsyth County be rejected by the Forsyth County commissioners and that copies of this resolution be sent to the commissioners “in an effort to stop burdensome high-density development in this area from being approved, at least until sufficient government infrastructure is in place.”

• Heard from Craig Hopkins of Gibson & Company, who offered “a clean opinion with no issues at all” for the audit report for fiscal year 2021, followed by acceptance of the audit report and a response to the Local Government Commission, which implemented new procedures due to staffing issues.

• Approved a contract with “SeeClickFix” — a work management app bridging the communication gap between residents and their local governments — for a Year 1 annual fee discounted price of $6,673 to add the software as a more efficient technology tool.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the Marketing/Communications report that was a “great ending” to the 2021 Clemmons Farmers Market season with the Nov. 21 Holiday Pop-Up Market, which had 540 customers and 30 vendors. She said that applications are already being taken for the 2022 season.

• Made special presentations to outgoing members — Mayor John Wait and councilman Scott Binkley — for their years of service on the village council.