Kannapolis City Council authorizes relocation of about 30 graves

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Roughly 30 graves from a forgotten cemetery near the Kannapolis Parkway and N.C. 73 intersection will be moved in coming weeks.

Kannapolis City Council authorized the relocation of the graves to Sunset Cemetery on Camp Julian Road Monday night.

A state statute allows for the relocation of graves in an abandoned cemetery if the property owner — in this case, Crescent Resources — secures permission from the appropriate government body.

Crescent Resources has development plans on the tract, which is 61 acres overall. Archaeologists identified at least 29 graves within a 4,900-square-foot portion of the site.

No engraved stones or markers were found, and no relatives came forward with any information or claims to the cemetery or people buried there.

In other business Monday, council:

* Discussed the future bidding procedures on infrastructure projects that would be paid through self-financing bonds connected with the North Carolina Research Campus.

* Approved a $10,000 allocation to Cabarrus Events Association toward the annual Christmas Parade and Village Fest (formerly Cottonstock). Mayor Pro Tem Randy Cauthen and Councilman Richard Anderson said, however, they would like to see the Christmas Parade held on a Saturday (during the day), instead of a nighttime parade.

* Learned that the Senior LunchPlus Program has found a new home at the Lane Street Church of God, although some improvements will have to be made to the septic system for the program to stay there.

As for the abandoned cemetery, Crescent Resources hired Of Grave Concerns, a consulting firm specializing in recording and developing preservation plans for cemeteries.

Ward Sutton, representing Of Grave Concerns, told council members Monday night that the state requires the remains of all identifiable graves to be placed in a box 24 inches long, 16 inches wide and 12 inches high.

Sutton said everything left within the “old graves” had compressed over the years into the bottom 2 or 3 inches of the graves. Those remains represent things such as teeth, bone fragments, nails, buttons, pins, etc.

When the company relocates the boxes to Sunset Cemetery, it is allowed to place five boxes into each burial vault.

The company must make maps, showing from where the remains were taken and where they were replaced. Those papers will be filed with the Register of Deeds office.

Crescent Resources must pay all the expenses. It will furnish a marker for Sunset Cemetery describing where the graves had been located, how many were moved and when the relocation occurred.

Sutton said he expected the relocation of the graves to start in about 30 days. He volunteered to notify the council members when the work started.

“If I’m not here, go ahead without me,” Mayor Bob Misenheimer said.

In 2006, the General Assembly passed special legislation that exempts the city from normal bidding requirements on public infrastructure projects connected to the North Carolina Research Campus.

City Manager Mike Legg said the legislation allows the city to proceed “with any bidding process that is suitable and appropriate, considering the pace of construction and the unique partnership that the NCRC provides.”

Under normal circumstances, local governments must follow state requirements for informal or formal bids, depending on the size of the contract.

The informal process can be used for projects in which the construction contract is between $25,000 and $300,000. The formal bid process is required for projects more than $300,000.

Legg said most of the city’s construction contracts connected to the campus will be more than $300,000. He asked council to consider five bid options.

The city could follow the regular process for formal bids; follow an informal bidding process; follow an informal bidding process but widen its solicitation of bidders; allow staff to determine which process to follow on a case-by-case basis; or eliminate all bidding.

If the city eliminated all bidding, city staff and Castle & Cooke, the campus’ developer, would be making all the decisions on which contractors to hire.

Legg warned that kind of process would be criticized by the construction industry.

“The only upside,” he added in notes to council, “is that Castle & Cooke could reach agreements with various contractors up front on bulk pricing and may be able to negotiate prices more effectively than the city would be able to through its more stringent procedures.”

But Legg favored the option in which the city would follow an informal bid process and solicit from a wide range of pre-qualified contractors. These contractors would be notified when a project is informally let for bids.

Council would not be involved, unless it wanted to have final approval, Legg said. In that case, it might add as much as two weeks to the process.

City officials wanted their special legislative provision in the bid process in case they have to act quickly on campus projects as they arise.

Councilman Darrell Hinnant said he was not clear on when the city and Castle & Cooke would be working together on the infrastructure projects. He said he envisioned “our” projects and “their” projects.

As an example, Legg said, the city will be doing intersection improvements along Loop Road and may find that it has to speed up some of the work to tie in with streets Castle & Cooke builds from the campus side.

Waterlines also could require quick cooperation in awarding contracts, Legg said.

Legg agreed that “the majority of projects will not be like this.”

Councilmen Gene McCombs and Anderson said the council could call a special meeting for approval of a bid and not necessarily add two weeks to the process.

Misenheimer said a council decision on bids is more palatable to him, because he wanted to avoid favoritism and ensure competitive bidding.

Hinnant emphasized the importance of making sure local contractors are involved in the process.

Council members provided only their input Monday night and will make a final decision later.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka @salisburypost.com.