NC League of Municipalities

City Council Action

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Last night’s city council meeting (January 7, 2008) was adequately attended by citizens and public workers.

The council approved the consent agenda which had a section dealing with the sewer upgrades in the “south outfall” area (near Amity Acres/Pinsto). An 18″ pipe would be installed that should be able to service a population of 35,000 in the peninsula area below the High School. Looks like the engineers are thinking way ahead.

Retired Firefighter, Robert Steve Hubbard, was recognized by the NC League of Municipalities for 36 years of service to Belmont. Richard Boyce made the presentation to a standing ovation by the crowd. Chief Altice took pictures.

During the public comment section, a gentleman who lives on Oak Street requested the city look into the cut-through traffic that people are using to bypass the crowded Central Avenue at busy times. People are turning down Harris Street (next to Charlie Martin’s house) and turning back up the hill onto Oak to bypass the stoplights at Myrtle/Central and Central/Main. He commented that, “…people are traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour up the hill…”. Council referred the man to Chief James for further discussion.

A representative from the Belmont Housing Authority updated the council on the Housing Authority activity. Council member, Martha Stowe was a member of that board, but had to resign upon election to City Council. There are two vacancies on the housing Authority Board. The mayor appoints the board. Mayor Boyce indicated that applications from interested participants could be directed to the Housing Authority. (P.O. Box 984, Belmont).

There was a text amendment to the Business Campus Development District. this would allow a business to have a drive-through window in this zoning designation as a conditional use. The purpose of the amednment was to accomodate Belmont Federal’s planned move to the corner of Planetree and Park Street (the old laundry/Backyard BBQ and adjacent lots) that were rezoned at the last council meeting.

There was a lengthy presentation and discussion to rezone a GR-4 piece of property at the river’s edge above the rail trestle to Business Campus Development/Conditional District to accomodate the Dickson and Whaley family requests to build a 42-slip marina and convenience store.

Piedmont Road property owners presented a petition to make sure that the road which is already fenced off at the old Spectrum plant, remain fenced off. Several residents of Edgemont were also in attendance and expressed concerns about traffic on the narrow roads of Edgemont, Linestowe, and River Road. Property rights advocate, Charlie Flowers, added language to the conditional use that no liquor be allowed or amplified music, except for special events. Once the property lines were established and the developer answered all the questions of council members, an affirmative vote was taken.

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The photo above shows the property that was requesting a rezone. The longest discussion revolved around the section of the photo from the left of the flat area to the little “beach area”. Apparently city and county maps do not show this as existing land, or that the land is withing County jurisdiction. The store, boat landing would built closer to the River Road in the cove area. The aluminum-covered boat slips (42 of them) would be built in the foreground of the photo.

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City council members also added language to allow for the development of a greenway along this property. It is unknown how that will work – property rights and all, you know. the drawing above shows the “added” land area under jurisdictional questioning. Longtime Belmontians know that the “added” land was ash and landfill over a long period of time. Many a great party was held in the picnic shelter and along the riverbank over the years.  

The anticipated big discussion of the evening, non-contiguous voluntary annexation of 55 acres with proposed access to Lower Armstrong Ford Road and South Point Road was withdrawn by the property owners. The council voted to continue the public hearing of the project until the February meeting.

Todd Neely and the architect for the Riverfront Park presented the final master plan for the new park down along East Catawba. The Belmont Front Porch had previously reported that work is progressing with the demolition of the two houses just behind Dale’s. The final plan shows a boardwalk with a small landing to launch paddle boats. A lot of green space and trails. The island, being referred to as “Irl’s Island” or Gilligan’s Island, — in reference to former council member, Irl Dixon, who has championed the acquistion of the island for a long time — was now included in the plan with “nature trails” weaving through the space. Council was asked to approve the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant application for a 50% match of a $1,000,000 project. Belmont would provide $500,000 and the State’s park trust fund grant would match this amount. A detailed budget was provided to the council members. Council approved the grant application.

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In other business, defeated council candidate, Richard Turner, was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee to replace Jenny Granson who had resigned. Only two people has applied for the slot, with one person being disqualified because they lived outside the Belmont ETJ ( go figure).

Council also rearranged their committees and heard from the various council members of their special interest concerns. City Manager Barry Webb reported that city staff are encouraging the development of a Tree Committee and participation in the Tree City, USA program.  

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Belmont Not Meeting Water Restriction Guidelines

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With Stage 3 water restrictions in place, Belmont must just be ignoring the severity of the drought.

In October, Governor Easley called on the municipalities throughout the state to cut water useage by 50%. According to the NC Drought Monitor, Belmont just isn’t meeting that goal.

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Belmont’s average daily useage as of August 2007 was 2.4 million gallons per day.  

  12/10          12/3         11/26         11/19          11/12           11/5          10/29          10/22

-34.76% -29.97% -30.18% -29.48% -17.64% -19.66% -29.31% -33.75%

So, what’s up with that?

It is not as if the state hadn’t given communities guidelines or unreasonable expectations. Back in 2002, during the last drought,  the State passed HB 1215. Section 5 of House Bill 1215 required the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to evaluate water conservation measures being implemented in North Carolina and to identify incentive programs and other voluntary programs that can help foster water conservation, water reuse, and water use efficiency.

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At the last city council meeting, City Manager Barry Webb, spoke about the possible actions to “encourage” further water conservation, including a “temporary” water rate increase.

We all know that several businesses will be heavily impacted, and that those on “fixed incomes” will want exemptions right off the bat, if council seriously considers this added taxation.

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Program on Montcross project Dec. 13

The Belmont Chamber and Belmont Abbey College are hosting a program on the 1,100-acre Montcross development project on Dec. 13.

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(Montcross Development – Wilkinson Boulevard Side)

The program, which includes networking and refreshments, is from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Abbey campus.

Project designer Bill Monroe, president of Charlotte-based WGM Designs, Inc, will speak about the project and answer questions. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Haid Ballroom with the Montcross presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Haid Theatre.

Montcross is a commercial and residential project stretching along Interstate 85 from the Catawba River to the South Fork. The plan touches four towns: Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton and McAdenville.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the property last year. Opening in December are Lowes Home Improvements, BB&T and Hampton Inn.

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As more property is developed over the next 20 to 30 years, it is estimated that 10,000 people may be employed in the project, which has been called the next Ballantyne.

Montcross is a partnership involving land owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina (founders of Belmont Abbey College), Pharr Yarns, Parkdale Mills and R.L. Stowe Mills.

There is no charge for the program, but registration is requested by email to info@belmontchamber.com or by calling 704-825-5307.

Observer article by Joe DePriest

8 candidates seek 3 open Belmont seats (Updated)

That’s It ? , that’s all the Observer could write?            vote.jpg 

They are not “open”, they are contested.

Is this all that we are going to get from the City Council candidates this year?

You have to buy a copy of the Thursday (10/18)Observer to get more information. To be fair, there is a bit more information from the generic questionaire that was sent to all the candidates.

becky-burch.jpg Becky Burch: “…she would encourage the development of one shuttered textile mill to be converted into a nursing home…”  and this helps the tax rate how?

“Burch said council members have the authority to ask developers to leave room for these areas, she said. They haven’t made that request yet though, she said.”  WHY haven’t the council members made those requests – YET ?

We are not making this up – these are quotes from the Charlotte Observer.

irl-dixon.jpg  Irl Dixon: “While some candidates say they are concerned about high property taxes, Dixon said the tax rate dropped last year and he expects it to do the same in the future because of the development of high-end, waterfront homes”.

Does this give credence to the term “economic-genocide” that East-enders and South Point residents are concerned about? Push out the existing homes to build McMansions along the lake, reducing visibility and accessibility. This is a concern here in this community.

charlie-flowers.jpg  Charlie Flowers:  “If re-elected, Flowers said he will push for businesses to fill the now empty textile mills”.

Too Late Charlie !  Most of the mills have been torn down or are in the planning stages to be torn down. We cite the examples of the Belmont Hosiery plant – now, called Belmont Reserve. We cite the Imperial Mill – now vacant, and its mill village called Hawthorne. We cite the Acme – now the space for development. This site even had a viable park area that the city acutally refused to use (Woodlawn) in the late 1990’s. How about what once was the Belmont Dyers, now torn down with development plans for high-end housing. Even the cotton warehouse that Stowe Mills used over on Eagle Road (a perfectly good pre-cast concrete structure) was torn down to make way for the clear-cutting that is now known as Eagle Village. Not even going to discuss in any detail the tearing down of the Eagle Mill for $500,000 unsold homes across from Belmont Central.

rfoulk.jpg  Ron Foulk: “…61-year-old political newcomer said council members have budget responsibility…”.

He’s not a newcomer — he has run for City council in at least 2 other elections. He also opposed the Amity Acres annexation into the city in the 1990’s. How can you trust someone who will be opposed to future annexations.

curtis-gaston.jpg  Curtis Gaston: “He would favor a building moratorium, especially on large subdivisions.”

Once again, the Pittenger/Duke(Crescent) property is already under design – that’s over 1,000 acres of voluntarily annexed land. The city has had jurisdictional control for over ten years on this property and until it was sold to State Senator Pittenger, nothing was done to guide its development direction.  Young Mr. Gaston needs to be more involved. He has promise but will he be committed in the long run?

stowemanorlogo.gif Martha Stowe: “…It [the land use plan] doesn’t prohibit developers, it just makes sure you’re working in tandem with developers,” she said. “As much development as we’re seeing in Belmont we’re going to have to do something other than what we have done…”

So, what are your plans and ideas?

Richard Turner:  “…The recent land-use plan lacks teeth, Turner said, and developers have been able to build as they wanted using conditional zoning. He said the city needs a public facilities ordinance that wouldn’t allow growth beyond the city’s ability to service it…”

Dennis Boyce: “Did not respond”

We hope the BannerNews and the Gazette will expand these questions.

We find it amazing that wherever you see a Burch sign in a yard, there is a Flowers sign right next to it. If it looks like a ticket (signs), sounds like a ticket (identical votes on all issues before council), it’s probably a ticket. Vote for one, get 2.  And we thought that the politics in Belmont was “non-partisan”.

“Stop the Watering of Lawns, Gardens – Period” – sez, Governor Easley

Speaking before the North Carolina League of Municipalities today, Governor Mike Easley has called for tighter water restrictions.

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(WCNC photo)

Ok, City of Belmont, why is it ok for this?:

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And This? :

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(BFP photos – Eagle Road and Assembly Street)

After much deliberation, the editorial board of the the Front Porch has decided to post photos of homes and businesses who feel the need to live above their neighbors, and the local regulations.

 

10/16 Update: “Official: No need for mandatory water restrictions” (Salisbury, NC)

And they want to tap the Catawba for their water source?

R U SERIOUS ?