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Kannapolis puts the brakes on gateway branding project

By Susan Shinn

For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — City Council on Monday evening put the brakes on a gateway branding project on I-85, keeping their focus on downtown redevelopment.

At the April 27 meeting, council members — in a rare split vote — voted 5-2 (Councilmen Ryan Dayvault and Darrell Jackson voting no) to approve some $24,000 in design costs for the interstate project, a project that’s being done in partnership with NCDOT and the City of Concord.

On Monday evening, when council was asked to approve a capital project ordinance and reimbursement resolution for the I-85 enhancements, Dayvault said he’d be consistent with his previous vote. So did Jackson. Then Councilwoman Diane Berry said she’d had a change of heart and could not vote for the interstate project. Councilman Doug Wilson made a motion not to pursue the project, signaling his agreement with the other three council members.

The motion passed 5-0. Councilmen Roger Haas and Tom Kincaid were absent, but even if both retained their previous vote in favor of the project, Wilson’s new motion still would’ve passed by a vote of 5-2.

Mayor Darrell Hinnant did ask if those council members who were present wanted to table the issue because of Haas’ and Kincaid’s absence, but could not get a motion to that effect.

I think this council just wanted to be safe and not commit to extra spending,” Hinnant said after the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, council had voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the appropriation for the purchase of the downtown properties — an expenditure of some $11 million.

Also weighing heavily on their minds is the General Assembly’s upcoming decision on sales tax distribution. They simply don’t know what kind of funding they’ll have, Hinnant said last night, as he has noted at previous meetings.

In conjunction with the downtown appropriation, council voted unanimously to apply to the Local Government Commission for approval of Special Obligation Bonds to finance the project.

Council’s goal has been to move the downtown properties back to the private sector as soon as possible,” Finance Director Eric Davis said. “So the special obligation bond is the way to go. It gives us the flexibility to pay early, and the collateral on the loan is going to be our sales tax revenue.

The sales tax issue ties directly to this deal. It is something we are watching closely.”

The bonds are locked in at 4.77 percent interest, he said, through Capital One Public Finance.

In other action, council by consensus directed Irene Sacks, director of economic development, to continue to focus façade and site improvements grants in the Cannon Boulevard corridor.

Sacks showed before and after photographs of businesses that had taken advantage of the city’s matching grant program — mostly through landscaping and new plantings.

While council agreed that there are other gateways to the city, the Cannon Boulevard corridor is the most heavily traveled and still needs the most attention.

It would be ideal to give Cannon Boulevard priority,” Dayvault said.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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