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City Council to discuss airport, dangerous intersection, beer sales and more

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s request for financial help at the airport, suggestions to make a dangerous intersection safer and the pursuit of alcohol sales at a new hookah lounge all will come before City Council this week.
City Council will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 217 S. Main St.
A month after Rowan County succeeded in having the airport removed from Salisbury city limits, City Council will consider the county’s request for financial help at the airport.
City Manager Doug Paris said the county has requested $39,700 from the now-defunct Airport Development Fund to pay for half the cost of running water and sewer service to the county’s new hangar.
County Manager Gary Page could not be reached for comment.
In 2009, the city and county entered into an airport development zone agreement and created the development fund to assist with the cost of airport capital improvements.
Before the county began its legislative push this year to remove the airport from the city limits, the county had asked the city if the development fund could be used to pay for half the $79,400 cost of running water-sewer service to the hangar, according to Paris.
Paris said he agreed and instructed Salisbury-Rowan Utilities Director Jim Behmer to work with the county on the project.
Then, at the county’s request, the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill June 4 that removed the airport from the city limits, and the county rescinded the airport development zone agreement.
“County representatives stated in a joint meeting with City Council and the local legislative delegation that they did not want our help or funds to improve the airport and wanted us to get out of their way,” Paris said in a memo to City Council.
On July 22, the county contacted the city, asking about the status of the request for financial assistance from the development fund to help pay for the water-sewer service extension, Paris said.
Paris said he no longer has the authority to approve the county’s request, and it must come before City Council.
“If the airport was still in the city limits and the airport development zone agreement was not rescinded by vote of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, I would have the authority to approve the county’s request,” he said.
City Council will hear three options to make a dangerous intersection safer.
There have been 11 accidents in the past 12 months at the intersection of Monroe and Fulton streets, Interim City Engineer Wendy Brindle said in a memo to City Manager Doug Paris.
About half have been “angle” type collisions, which are usually corrected by a traffic signal, Brindle said. But in this case, the existing traffic signal at the intersection has not been effective.
The accidents do not present a trend. They happen at different times of day and from different directions, Brindle said.
“Because of this, it is hard to determine the most effective corrective action to take,” she said.
The city has extended the “all red” time at the signal and recently trimmed limbs to improve visibility of the traffic lights.
Staff are exploring three other options, including:
• Upgrading the existing eight-inch signal heads to 12-inch heads to improve visibility.
• Remove the existing signal and install a four-way stop with a flashing red beacon in all directions.
Volume on Fulton Street is about 7,800 vehicles per day, and Monroe Street carries about 3,000 vehicles per day.
• Explore the design of a mini traffic circle, which would replace the traffic signals. All traffic would have to yield to enter the circle, and flow would be to the right.
Because of limited space, the circle could not accommodate left turns by some large trucks, like garbage trucks and larger fire trucks. To turn left, these vehicles would have to use the center island, which would be made with a mountable curb.
Thirteen households responded to the city’s survey of the West Square neighborhood. Twelve preferred upgrading the signal heads over the other options.
All responses indicated the all-way stop as the least desirable option, Brindle said.
N.C. Department of Transportation would fund the larger signal heads.
City Council will receive public comments before selecting a preferred option for the intersection.
Although Salisbury Planning Board voted overwhelmingly to recommend that City Council allow beer and wine sales at the new downtown hookah lounge, neighbor Robert Crum vowed to fight on.
City Council members will hold a public hearing as they consider whether to issue a special use permit to allow a bar at 5 Easy Street, the home of King Tut Cafe, which is open and operating.
A hookah lounge — a place where people smoke flavored tobacco from a shared pipe — does not need approval from the city, but wine and beer sales do.
Crum and his wife Cherie Turner have argued against alcohol sales at King Tut during three planning board meetings totaling about five hours. But board members said the couple did not prove that alcohol sales at King Tut would lower the value of their property.
The hookah lounge is tucked under and behind 118 E. Council St., which stands next to Crum and Turner’s property at 116 E. Council St.
Crum and Turner have a longstanding dispute with Henry and Karen Alexander, who own 118 E. Council St. and 5 Easy Street. Karen Alexander is a City Council member and a former member of the planning board.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

• City Council will recognize the student participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
• Mayor Paul Woodson will proclaim Tuesday as National Night Out.
• City Council will set the 29th Annual Future Directions and Goal-Setting Retreat for Feb. 12-13.
• City Council will receive a report from ABC General Manager Terry Osborne regarding educational presentations funded from revenues received from law enforcement.
• City Council will consider approving a $114,312.50 contract with Ramsay, Burgin, Smith Architects Inc. for architectural services for the proposed school central office at 329 S. Main St.
• City Council will receive a presentation from staff regarding an online application allowing users to retrieve information about city services.
• Comments by City Managers Doug Paris.
• City Council will consider changing an ordinance related to public street festivals and special events.
• City Council will receive a presentation from staff regarding revisions to the city’s sewer-use ordinance and consider setting a public hearing for Aug. 20 to receive public comment.
In 2011, the N.C. Division of Water Quality updated the rules for pretreatment programs. As a result, public utilities have been required to update their sewer-use ordinance to meet these new regulatory standards.
During this process, the city’s ordinance also has been reformatted and the content updated to reflect the state’s model ordinance. Definitions were reviewed and clarified.
Salisbury-Rowan Utilities staff will explain what types of changes have been made and highlight some of the implications for sewer customers. The proposed revisions are not anticipated to have any negative financial or operational impacts on regulated industries.

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