Sheriff Kimbrough makes presentation on drone program
Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 27, 2023
Council gets update on school traffic, approves resolution adamantly opposing state bills
Not only is Clemmons home for Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, it’s the location for the Drone as a First Responder program, which is the first of its kind in the state.
The pilot program, which was designed to provide deputies with additional support for daily operations utilizing unmanned aircraft systems — commonly known as drones. went live last year and has been met with positive results in bringing a faster and enhanced level of support in the community.
Kimbrough paid a visit to Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting to check in and see if the board had any questions as to “what we’re doing, how we’re doing and what is the future of it” in advance of a budget workshop at 3 p.m. on May 8 prior to the next council meeting.
In the earlier April meeting, Village Manager Mike Gunnell gave an update on the contract with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for fiscal year 2023-2024 but said some items were missing, including information on the drone program.
In addition to Kimbrough being on hand, the council received a breakdown on the financials for the program with a draft exhibit showing a total annual cost for fiscal year 2023-2024 of $119,450 with total direct costs of $108,980 and an administrative fee of $10,470.
Certainly, there will be discussion on these numbers and others in the budget workshop, but on Monday night, Kimbrough was there seeking feedback and to see if there were any concerns.
“I’ll say we’ve not had any complaints,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Barson. “That’s always a good sign.”
The council has noted “all the successes” in the early months as data was collected and looking ahead to see what the costs would be if the program is implemented.
Clemmons was selected as the location for the DFR pilot program because the area has the highest population density and call volume of the townships contracted with the Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services.
As part of the presentation, Brian Mullins, the county sheriff’s office drone team leader, showed a video of some of the rapid responses of the drone.
Kimbrough mentioned some “great results” in monitoring the local community.
“I’m excited you allowed us to launch it here at home in Clemmons,” Kimbrough said. “I’m a big proponent of technology. You can’t get around it now. We can see what’s happening in real time and that is consistent on what you’re going to need as we move forward.”
“Drones have the capability to advance your response. Clemmons has grown drastically in the 10 years from when I first got here. As we grow, things are happening here in Clemmons that never have happened before. That’s because the population is growing here and the people are coming. Clemmons is not the quiet, sleepy place that it once was 10 years ago.”
Barson provided an update on continuing school traffic improvements and said that she, along with Gunnell and Assistant Village Manager Amy Flyte met recently with some school board members, and “they were excited about the progress we’ve made and how many projects are in the pipeline.”
Barson added that West Forsyth High and Clemmons Elementary continue to be two of the most difficult challenges.
At West, she noted that the engineering is complete and will be submitted to NCDOT for approval for the new sidewalk and ped head at the Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Southwest School Road intersection and that work is ongoing with school staff for a new traffic pattern to reduce congestion and potential small infrastructure improvements.
At Clemmons Elementary, Barson said that work is continuing for a new traffic pattern to reduce congestion on Stadium Drive with potential infrastructure improvements along with a request to the school board to prioritize the need for a traffic guard.
In addition, Barson said that having two to five deputies directing traffic at the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup will end at the conclusion of the school year.
Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council took an even stronger stand adamantly objecting to Senate Bill 317 and House Bill 562 with a revised resolution regarding legislature amending village control over certain subdivisions styled “workforce housing” and similar bills to eliminate local authority over development.
Council member Mike Combest again led the discussion, stating “these bills are promoted as acts to establish workforce housing developments to address critical housing shortages for firefighters, law enforcement officers, teachers, nurses, first responders and other vital workers and first-time homebuyers.
“This is, in fact, the title of Senate Bill 317 and House Bill 562. A careful reading of both acts shows that neither will actually address any housing shortage experienced by these sectors of our workforce. What the bills will do is take from municipalities in North Carolina all authority to regulate any aspect of the developments being pushed.”
Combest then showed a slide and said: “Housing developments that fall in the scope of these two bills can, with no local input, be placed in virtually any location throughout Clemmons. And, they can be built without having to adhere to any local standards. It’s worth highlighting that both bills specifically prohibit local authorities from applying any standards concerning lot widths, setbacks, density or building design elements.”
Mayor Mike Rogers also read a statement: “I believe just as raw and blatant of response as to the egregious attempt our state legislators that are trying to force their will upon us by removing our ability to govern as our citizens want us to within legal boundaries. I would like for it to be crystal clear that we will not stand for the erosion of our committees for the benefit of developers and others who will benefit at a cost to our citizens while destroying the character of our communities throughout the state.”
Barson was appointed as the council’s delegate to visit the sponsors of these bills and express the village’s determination to keep them from becoming law. It also was decided to reach out in a collective effort to other municipalities and mayors throughout the area and state.
In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Decided to put a 14.7-acre property at 2848 Harper Road, which the village purchased more than 15 years ago and tried unsuccessfully to sell in the last couple of years, back on the market again after it was announced recently that sewer would be extended to that area. It was agreed upon to use the upset bid process again in attempting to sell the tract.
• Heard from Shannon Ford, director of marketing and communications, that opening day for the Clemmons Farmers Market will be Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jerry Long YMCA to coincide with Clemmons Community Day, which will get underway at 10 a.m. Ford reported that there are 35 vendors on the waiting list. “We actually closed that application now, and I have people calling every single day on how they can get into the market.”
• Approved contracts with Kimley Horn for EB-5960 and EP-6040 Harper Road sidewalk projects and with Gibson & Company P.A. for audit services.
• Heard a brief presentation from Michelle McCullough on the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission’s 2022 annual report. That followed remarks from Scott Binkley, a former council member and the Clemmons appointee on the commission.
• Approved Resolution 2023-R-2 declaring May 2023 as Historic Preservation Month in Clemmons.
• Heard from Emily Harrison in the quarterly stormwater report, stating, “Again the rain hasn’t been our friend” in the first quarter of 2023. Harrison said that there were 71 total projects, including 43 where structures were repaired.
• Called for a public hearing for Zoning Docket (C-252) of real property owned by AAA Storage Management #28 LLC from GB-S to GB-S (General Business – Special) at 2225 Lewisville-Clemmons Road with 2.768 acres.
• Called for a public hearing for Zoning Docket (C-253) of real property owned by Bing-Merr Properties LLC from LO-S to PB-S (Pedestrian Business – Special) at 3725 and 3729 Clemmons Road with 2.93 acres.
• Called for a public hearing for Zoning Docket UDO-89 to amend multiple sections in Chapter A and Chapter B of the Unified Development Ordinances (C-UDO-88).