Progress: Growing up — Clemmons
Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2023
Mayor Mike Rogers: ‘Clemmons is a community that is small enough to know your neighbors, but large enough to find what you need in the village’
What makes a community special?
Here’s what Mayor Mike Rogers of Clemmons has to say: “Great schools, a farmers market featuring local vendors, good roads, safe neighborhoods. These are just a few of my favorite things about the Village of Clemmons.”
Of course, there’s much more.
“Clemmons is particularly pro-business, spurring an incredible amount of development recently, including a large redevelopment project, a new connector street, dining and shopping venues, start-up businesses, as well as residential developments,” Rogers added. “Yet, we retain that small-town feeling that residents crave, creating that sense of Southern charm with modern amenities.
“Clemmons has a hospital, a YMCA, a chamber of commerce, a newspaper and a wide array of long-established churches and religious institutions. The Clemmons Library is one of the busiest branches of the Forsyth County Library system, as well as the newest library offering community gathering places and activities for all ages. Our elite fire department and dedicated community policing help keep us safe. We enjoy this quality of life while having one of the lowest tax rates of all the towns in our region. Our village council and staff is meticulous when allocating and spending taxpayer dollars.”
Certainly, Clemmons has become a coveted destination for those looking for the right place to live since it was incorporated in 1986. The village’s census population was 9,213 in 1990, 15,825 in 2000, 18,627 in 2010 and 21,217 at the 2020 census. Current projections have that number continuing to climb going forward.
Mary Cameron, who has served a total of 27 years on the council, remembers what it was like when she came to Clemmons a couple of years before it became an official town — saying her family liked the location and the feel of the community.
“When I first moved here, you could buy groceries, go to the drug store, eat at one of the two restaurants and that was about it,” said Cameron, who stated she was responding as a resident and not as a council member. “This was, and still is, a great place to live. We enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the state, are provided with the highest quality services and reside in a prosperous community that has no debt. What’s not to like? Of course, people want to move here.”
Village Manager Mike Gunnell added that although there are a number reasons why Clemmons is a noteworthy place to call home, the common factor is truly the people.
“It is the residents and business owners that make a community special,” he said. “They take pride in living and owning businesses here — that makes everyone invested in what is the absolute best for the Village of Clemmons.”
Naturally, there’s always the question of how much growth is too much.
“I wish there was an easy answer,” said Gunnell, who also has served the village as public works director, village engineer, stormwater engineer and assistant manager before taking over as manager early last year. “I think first we need to look at reasons why there is growth in Clemmons. Location is attractive to new businesses that prefer a smaller city atmosphere where employees can live in a less stressful environment.
“Clemmons welcomes smart growth and also looks to appeal to all generations. Older residents with ties to a community tend to stay put, but it takes growth of good schools, retail and services as well as adequate housing to attract younger families. We need to maintain a high quality of living for all generations.”
That includes having people being able to live where they work and have the necessary support such as child care, schools, youth sports and medical care available.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep traffic flowing since we understand I-40, U.S. 158 and Lewisville-Clemmons Road bisect our town,” Gunnell said. “The upcoming sidewalk projects along Harper Road will help increase pedestrian availability and make it possible to connect the YMCA to Tanglewood via sidewalk.”
Gunnell is hopeful that the NCDOT project involving safety and traffic flow improvements along the busy Lewisville-Clemmons Road corridor will help.
“NCDOT has been studying this for many years — and they have had many of their experts spending countless hours studying the traffic patterns and road design,” he said. “It is important that support is provided to NCDOT to make this project a success and trust the experts in making our roadways as safe and efficient as possible.”
Most agree that traffic that is the biggest concern in Clemmons.
“According to many residents, it is traffic,” Cameron said. “I grew up and lived in New Jersey until I was out of college, so I know what traffic really looks like and am probably the wrong person to answer that. Here I will speak as only one member of the Clemmons Village Council. There is a fine line between allowing property owners to build on their property and putting controls on the use of that property based on the amount of traffic it will produce, but it must and is being done.
“Probably the best example of disbursing traffic is found in Village Point. Instead of businesses being lined up along one road, such as Lewisville-Clemmons Road, businesses and multifamily units are spread out in one location drawing traffic off the main road with multiple entrances and exits allowing shoppers and apartment dwellers to access the area from different locations. In that same area, they can access the hospital, the lake and Morgan Elementary school.”
As for how much growth and development is too much, Cameron said, “That is not for me to determine. When people feel that Clemmons is too crowded, they will stop moving here.”
When asked what was the biggest problem facing Clemmons, Gunnell said that the answer to this question could change every day but the most consistent answer is actually a good problem to have: “Clemmons is attractive. People want to continue living here, new residents want to move here, current businesses are happy here, and new businesses want a place in Clemmons. Why is Clemmons so attractive? We have a governing body that works tirelessly to balance smart growth, tax rate and amenities. We have a staff that is second to none in filling the needs and wants of the community, which leads to another problem we are facing along with many of our counterparts. Recruiting new employees to fill vacancies is a challenge. We have taken some steps to make our benefits more appealing to employees such as adding vacation time, flexible hours in many of our positions, as well as on-the-job training.”
Rogers points to another area that makes Clemmons desirable.
“On any given weekend, you will find a long list of family-friendly events ranging from live music, triathlons, outdoor movies, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk around Village Point Greenway or fishing the Village Point Lake.” he said. “Residents and surrounding neighbors also attend many of our annual events, including a holiday tree-lighting ceremony, a Monster Dash and Goblin Hop around the greenway for kids dressed in costumes to interact with local businesses and organizations, and our annual Harvest Fest. This is just a small sample of such events.”
Rogers concluded with this: “Clemmons is a community that is small enough to know your neighbors, but large enough to find what you need in the village.”