Work on local sidewalk projects to begin soon

Published 12:10 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

Council hears update on pedestrian plan, net density

Sidewalks, pedestrian plans and net density dominated the conversation in Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting.
Manager Mike Gunnell provided a tentative timeline on a couple of sidewalk projects — West Forsyth High School and Harper Road.
Gunnell said that construction drawings “are being finalized as we speak” for the West Forsyth sidewalk project with May targeted for those plans to be complete along with right-of-way and easement acquisition, and advertisement for bids.
June is next for awarding the contract and the beginning of construction, which is expected to be finished in August.
There is much more involved with the Harper Road sidewalk project with April slated as the month to begin design, followed by construction plans completed and submittal to NCDOT for approval in August.
Gunnell said that they hoped to have back construction plans approved along with right-of-way and easement acquisition, and utility relocation agreements in October.
The process then extends into 2024 with the additional steps, including the expectation of starting construction in April and ultimately completion of the project in November.
“The first section from Fair Oaks to Morgan should go fairly quickly,” Gunnell said, “but the second section from Morgan to the Y will take a little bit longer.”
Mayor Mike Rogers said that the big difference in the time involved in each project comes down to the funding source.
“As everyone can see, the projects that we going to do ourselves, pay for ourselves — the West Forsyth sidewalk project — only takes three to four months,” Rogers said. “Once you get into the federal funding and state funding, there’s a lot of hoops to jump through and that project (Harper Road) for the sidewalk is about a year and a half for completion.”
Also in the manager’s report, Gunnell said that the beautification project involving plantings at the Harper Road interchange at I-40 were anticipated to begin in the spring but “now we’re hoping they’re going to start in September or October.”
In the planner’s report, Doug Moore gave a “big picture” update on the Pedestrian Plan for Clemmons.
“We should have that done and completed in about a year,” Moore said. “That’s going to be a pretty quick plan, and we are starting to pull together a survey with the consulting firms.”
Moore added there was a second project team meeting last week working on the pedestrian network plan, and a steering committee has been put together for that component.
In another item, Moore brought up net density and the direction received from council at the recent retreat to get input. After talking with Al Benshoff, who took over as the village’s attorney at the first of the year, he learned that several other communities have already been doing that.
“This is something we’d like to move forward with and are working on code language to change from gross density to net density, and we’ll bring that back before you,” Moore said.
Then in council comments, Mike Combest brought up the work the village is doing on net density, noting “developing this standard for planning and zoning warrants highlighting and emphasizing. This is very important work that moves us down the path to accomplish two critical objectives.”
No. 1, Combest said is “developing and clearly articulating our ‘net density’ standards for land planning and zoning decisions that will provide needed guidance to ensure that we close any loopholes that may currently exist in our density standards, and be used to press for approving developments that greatly exceed development densities in the village — commercial and residential.”
And No. 2, Combest said is “an early and important step in our comprehensive endeavor to ensure that the systems and decision-making standards and processes we use to shape and approve growth in the village are up to date, and reflect current and projected realities to meet today’s needs. It’s imperative that all legacy systems and standards we retain are done so deliberately and after careful study and consideration to make the best possible decisions about growth for our residents and businesses.”
Combest added that this ‘net density’ work does exactly that, and “will help us move down the track to achieving best possible decisions.”
Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council called for a public hearing to amend multiple sections in Chapter B of the Zoning Ordinance of the Unified Development Ordinances (C-UDO-88).