Clemmons shifts back to pedestrian plan

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Council wants to roll this agreement into comprehensive approach

After going in a different direction in its previous meeting to consider a more comprehensive transportation approach, the Clemmons Village Council decided to revert back to a pedestrian plan that was originally approved in August.
Ultimately, the decision came down to funding that has been in place since 2019 when the MPO (Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) approved the use of of $40,000 of Surface Transportation Block Grant Direct Attributable (STBG-DA) funds with a $10,000 match from Clemmons — making a total of $50,000.
Assistant Village Manager Amy Flyte shared the timeline of the pedestrian plan and the options available for how to proceed at this point.
“We did speak with the MPO about their comments on the proposal from the last meeting regarding holding or moving these funds to another project,” Flyte said. “They advised that would not be possible due to how long these funds have already been held and moved. So we have two options tonight — either cancel the existing contract we have for the pedestrian plan or continue with the plan by approving the interlocal reimbursement agreement with the City of Winston-Salem.”
Ultimately, the council chose the latter option after considering one of the action items on the agenda at the Sept. 26 meeting — the interlocal agreement for a pedestrian study to provide an overview of existing conditions and recommend plans and policies to improve the existing network.
Nasser Rahimzadeh, who resigned his position as planner in September and was attending his final council meeting that night, said that while $50,000 was geared to the pedestrian plan, there was also an additional $200,000 that was originally set aside for a previous Kinnamon Bridge study that was shifted to go toward a comprehensive traffic study for the village.
That followed a discussion where Rahimzadeh concluded his remarks by saying: “The hope is when this information gets finished we get to an actual transportation plan that deals with automobiles, because a comprehensive transportation plan has to include all forms of transportation. We can include the data from this ped plan directly into the comprehensive transportation plan.”
That’s when council member Mike Combest gave his take: “My instinct says that we have a 13-year-old transportation plan, it seems if we’re going to update that, we’re going to look at that comprehensively because the risk is if we update portion A, whether it be bicycles or pedestrians or traffic only, that can inadvertently become a driver of the other transportation aspects. I would recommend that, unless it’s time sensitive, that we ask the question what would it take to do a comprehensive update.”
Finally, the council agreed by consensus to table the interlocal agreement, and as Combest said, “work it into a comprehensive update as stated by the planner. I think it will be a more productive use of the money and give us a longer payoff as well.”
However, that was before learning the funding for the pedestrian plan could not be rolled into or combined with another project.
After approving the pedestrian and bicycle plan in July 2019, the scope of the project was amended to provide a pedestrian-only plan in September 2021 and moved into the next budget year. The council entered into an agreement with VHB Engineering to perform a pedestrian plan at the Aug. 8 meeting, and the MPO approved moving funds in September from fiscal year 2021-22 to fiscal year 2022-23 prior to tabling the interlocal agreement in the last meeting and exploring how to work it into a comprehensive update.
Council member Bradley Taylor asked Flyte about clarifying because of some of the questions that came up in the August meeting when the pedestrian plan was approved on how to meet the end goal.
“So with one option, by moving forward, this is a part of a greater whole, which we can assume will be an element of that long-term plan — not something separate that is unusable, of the other option, which is kind of cancel, regroup and come up with another plan,” Taylor said, while then asking Flyte a question. “Can you share how one of those might benefit us in the long run?”
Flyte, who served as senior planner in Davie County before accepting her new position in Clemmons in June, stated that the idea is this would eventually be rolled into a comprehensive plan.
“We can go ahead and ask for that in January and then funds would come available to spend in fiscal year 2024,” she said. “MPO has the option to approve that. Otherwise, we lose this $50,000 that is dedicated to this study. They moved it from fiscal year to fiscal year and it just can’t be moved any further. So their advice is to do it now and roll that into a document whenever our timeline matches up with that.”
Mayor Mike Rogers then asked for her recommendation.
“That we move forward with it with VHB as the consultant to complete this plan.” Flyte said.
The council then followed with unanimous approval for the plan, which was described by VHB as a project to include “prioritized implementation and funding strategies supporting a long-range and cohesive vision to improve safety and comfort” with a special focus on the commercial nodes, schools, parks, historic districts and connecting locations of significance.
In other business in Monday night’s meeting, the council approved a Zoning Map Amendment for real property owned by 30S Equity LLC from GB-S (General Business – Special) to GB-S (General Business – Special) located on the eastern side of Gentry Lane, consisting of 1.35 acres (Zoning Docket C-249).
The project, which includes a proposed restaurant/retail site of 10,000 square feet, received unanimous approval from the Planning Board, but in the Sept. 12 meeting, the council expressed concerns about the traffic impact on surrounding neighboring intersections, roadways, businesses, etc.
And based on some of the missing elements of the traffic impact analysis in the area and a NCDOT meeting later in the month on potential impacts on Lewisville-Clemmons Road, it was decided to wait another month for the council to be able to assess.
Village Manager Mike Gunnell said that all the issues have been addressed.
“We received a revised TIA (Traffic Impact Analysis),” he said. “It showed some required possible improvements. However, most of the improvements were being required were covered by U-6004 with DOT’s proposed improvements for Lewisville-Clemmons Road — particularly the right-turn lane at Dairi-O as well as they’re showing a right-turn lane addition at Allegacy (Way) and at Peace Haven (Road). Jonathan Guy, our traffic engineer, came to the conclusion that everything was rectified and the report is satisfactory as it is.”
Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council approved Budget Amendment 23-G-1 to appropriate a contingency of 3 percent for the Forsyth Sheriff’s Office’s Public Safety contract for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, after actual expenses exceeded the estimate in the previous year.