Clemmons looking to address school traffic safety: Village ramps up applying for grants involving roads and other planning needs

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 13, 2023

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It might be the middle of summer, but school is just around the corner, and the Clemmons Village Council is already looking at the continuing issue of school traffic safety.

Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Barson said she and fellow council member Mike Combest wanted to provide a quick update to other council members and the public in Monday night’s meeting, pointing out there has been a small impasse due to a lack of timely communications.

“Any of the physical improvements we hoped to achieve before the beginning of the school year would not be feasible at this time,” Barson said. “There are some procedural pieces that we believe we can implement, and we’re going to continue to work with staff, and staff will continue to work with the school board staff in the different schools — staff at Clemmons Elementary and West Forsyth High School — and see what we can achieve for the beginning of this school year.”

Along with the school traffic, planner Doug Moore brought up hearing recently about receiving a federal grant through the Safe Streets and Roads for All Action Plan, where the village was awarded $160,000 with a 20-percent match.

“This grant is only to be used for the action plan through that funding program,” Moore said, adding that the process includes developing the planning structure, input, goals established, collaboration similar to what has been done with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and then the adoption of the document to bring that forward.

Also, Moore said that the village submitted another grant application Monday for supplemental planning to further clarify an action plan, not realizing the village could apply until after being included in the Vision Zero Leadership Institute a few weeks ago.

“What we have applied for is a supplemental grant to give us funding to do an ADA transition plan, which we’ve known that we need to have,” Moore said.

Council member Bradley Taylor wanted confirmation on the steps involved.

“My understanding is we’re working on this kind of multi-stage transportation plan,” Taylor said, “and these types of grants are either helping us plan for or even potentially implement some of the outcomes that are going to come from this comprehensive transportation plan, more for village streets, transportation, that sort of thing.”

Moore agreed, and then Village Manager Mike Gunnell offered this: “I think this also gives us the ability to apply for future grants. To have a plan in place and direction, it makes it a whole lot easier to receive future funding.”
Along with this and approving the grant agreement under the fiscal year 2022 Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Village of Clemmons, the council also approved Resolution 2023-R-11 supporting Vision Zero.

This is a strategy to “eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users and to ensure safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.”

The program was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, where the traffic deaths have been cut in half even while the number of trips increased, and is building momentum throughout the world — including in a growing number of U.S. communities.

In another business item in Monday night’s meeting, the council approved Zoning Docket UDO-90 to amend multiple sections in Chapter B of the Unified Development Ordinance after a public hearing where no one spoke.

Moore said that this includes changes to rectify numerical inconsistencies in the redevelopment standards, remove unenforceable occupancy standards for accessory dwelling units, and provide more specifications for the recently revised sign ordinance and the related nonconforming structures sections.

“This is top-notch work,” Combest said. “The redevelopment part of it is off the charts. My recommendation is that we pass this enthusiastically. I think this is as good as it gets.”

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Approved the purchase of a leaf and debris collector truck after receiving a quote of $302,693 from Carolina Industrial Equipment in Charlotte. Gunnell said that the new addition, along with repairs on another truck, now gives Clemmons six vehicles in 2023 compared to four last year “to battle the upcoming leaf season.”
• Approved Resolution 2023-R-10 electing for the village to return to using the League of Municipalities and get a lower rate for property and liability insurance instead of using a private carrier, and also approved an interlocal agreement for a group self-insurance pool for property and liability risk sharing.
• Heard from Mayor Mike Rogers that Miracles in Sight, formerly known as Eye Bank of North Carolina, is planning to locate its corporate office in Clemmons in an approximately 26,000-square-foot building on Commercial Park Court just off Interstate 40. Rogers said that the company, which provides high-quality tissue for corneal transplants, will have 100 employees when fully staffed.