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Residents speak out against concealed weapon ordinance

KANNAPOLIS — A handful of citizens appeared before Kannapolis City Council on Monday to speak out against an ordinance regarding concealed weapons — not realizing the ordinance had already been passed a year before.

Council members were simply making a minor amendment to the ordinance to conform to new state law. In fact, the omission of the word “playground” now allows citizens to carry concealed weapons in those locations.

“You guys are our front line of defense on freedom,” said Ronnie Adcock of China Grove. He said that concealed weapons carriers had gone through training and were law-abiding citizens. Other citizens listed multiple instances of gun-related violence, or shared quotes from the founding fathers about the right to bear arms.

Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas said he felt there was a misunderstanding in the audience.

“We’re actually reducing the regulations,” said Councilman Tom Kincaid, who said he himself had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“This ordinance was adopted a year ago,” City Attorney Walter Safrit reminded council members. “All you’re doing tonight is eliminating the word ‘playground’ from the ordinance.”

“If we don’t adopt this amendment,” said Mayor Darrell Hinnant, “we are out of compliance with state law.”

The amendment passed unanimously.

Safrit said later that the new state law had taken the word “playground” out of the statute because some municipalities had interpreted the word to include bike trails, thread trails and greenways — which was not the original intent.

After a three-hour meeting, the council moved into closed session to discuss personnel matters and the expansion of business or industry. The council will meet at noon Wednesday at the Train Station with Downtown Kannapolis, Inc. to hear about the first phase of a market analysis for downtown development.

In other business, council members:

• Heard a report from the Healthy Living Brand and Advisory Council. Making the presentation were Irene Sacks, the city’s director of business and community affairs; Gary Walker of Walker Marketing; and Bob Davies of Candescence.

The city hired Walker Marketing to do a brand study earlier this year. The theme “Healthy Living” emerged from a series of interviews with elected officials, focus groups and site tours.

“We have to walk the talk and do these things to establish Kannapolis as a healthy city,” said Mike Legg, city manager.

Walker informed council that the next step would be to develop three different logo concepts, then zero in on one recommendation.

“That will be a time-consuming effort,” he said. “but it will be an exciting thing to elevate our marketing efforts.”

The logo will appear on everything from stationery to water towers to police vehicles. Walker said that logo development options would take place within the next 60 to 90 days.

“Communities tend to go through big, big studies — then put it on the shelf and let it go,” Hinnant pointed out. “We’ll do the same thing if we’re not careful. It is incumbent upon us to somehow make this a reality.”

City Council unanimously approved an allocation of $43,300 out of the $187,738 budget for economic development. This allocation includes $23,500 for a development of a new logo and accompanying graphic elements; $14,800 for the development of a graphic standards manual for proper use of the logo throughout city departments and for city partners; and $5,000 for data collection and surveying costs to establish a baseline for evaluation.

Sacks also made a presentation for a resolution endorsing the Kannapolis Corridor Appearance Improvement Program. Although the city has made some code enforcement sweeps along some corridors, she said, it has not undertaken a more comprehensive approach to the issue.

Problems include litter, deteriorating structures, signage, gateways, zoning and lack of landscaping. Sacks showed several slides illustrating these problems.

Council members discussed the $50,000 allocation for the program, including $20,000 for a façade and site improvement matching grant for up to four properties in the selected corridor area. For the remaining $30,000, one option was to make spot improvements along the selected corridor area.

“What could we get for $30,000?” Kincaid asked. “I see that as being a very low figure.”

“It is low,” Sacks agreed. “It would be a way to get started.”

Instead, council members voted unanimously adopt the resolution and to use the $30,000 to create a design and engineering plan for improvements along the corridor.

• Heard a presentation from Wilmer Melton, public works director, about the proposed striping for North Loop Road. This was basically a rehashing of Melton’s presentation to council on Oct. 28, in order to bring new council members up to speed on the project.

Temporary striping will be done this week, weather permitting, through thermal plastic and paint. This way, bike lanes can be added in the future without changing the existing right-of-way.

Melton said the next step was seeking feedback through public hearings, which will take place after the first of the year.

• Voted unanimously to adopt a resolution approving the 2014 meeting schedule. Meetings typically take place the second and fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m. The next meeting is set for Jan. 13.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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