Who will pay for this tree? GQ resident looks for compensation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

GRANITE QUARRY — A Veronica Lane resident has asked the town of Granite Quarry to compensate her for the loss of a large oak tree cut down during state road repairs.

Laurie Mack of 325 Veronica Lane spoke at the Board of Aldermen’s monthly meeting Monday night and said she valued the tree at $866, based on a timber sales guide.

The tree was cut down by the N.C. Department of Transportation without her permission, Mack said. She told aldermen the state right of way along Veronica Lane is 45 feet wide.

Measured from the center line, the right of way on each side should be 22.5 feet, Mack said. Her tree was 23.5 feet from the center and not within the right of way, she said.

Until Veronica Lane becomes a town street and not a state road, Mayor Bill Feather said, “the town is in an odd situation.”

“This is, right now, a DOT issue,” Feather told Mack.

Town Manager Phil Conrad said a series of emails have been going back and forth on the matter and the DOT’s right-of-way staff is trying to resolve the matter.

Mack said her attorney has advised her not to sign a right-of-way agreement with the state. She said she is definitely in favor of seeing the road project completed but wants “the kinks worked out” first.

Aldermen referred the matter to Conrad and Town Attorney Chip Short.

In February, the town approved an agreement with the DOT for $101,040 in improvements to Veronica Lane that would bring the street up to state standards. The street is off Legion Club Road on the western side of town.

In other business Monday, Town Planner Steve Blount gave aldermen some ideas about what they could do with property the town owns at 2400 Faith Road.

Granite Quarry originally looked at the 10.1 acres as a possible place for leaf and limb debris, then later eyed it as potential athletic fields.

The town made the $20,000 purchase in 2016. But in September, the aldermen voted 3-1 to put the property back on the market if the town received a donation of 9 acres nearby from the Byrd family.

The town is expected to make the deed transaction on the Byrd property later this month.

Blount’s presentation showed how the town could promote residential development on the site at 2400 Faith Road, even though 8.55 acres of it is in the floodplain.

The 1.55 acres not in the floodplain rises from Crane Creek to a plateau, making it viable for residential development if access can be achieved, Blount noted. He demonstrated how, by coordinating with other property owners, the town’s tract could possibly open up 26-plus acres to residential development and have a positive impact on the tax base.

That kind of residential development would take time, Blount said, but he suggested other things that could be done with the property until then.

He gave as examples a community garden with picnic areas, specialty crop farming, a roadside farmers market, leased garden plots, a disc golf course or a combination of all these.

In his mind, Blount said, the 10.1 acres makes up a valuable piece of property.

“You have options with this piece of property,” he said. “… You’re not going to get much out of selling it. … If you sell it, those options are gone.”

Alderman John Linker said he voted to dispose of the property in September because the board seemed to be sitting on this and a number of other properties.

“I like the options and the analysis that was done,” Linker said. “… I saw that as a soccer field, and I didn’t look at any of these other options.”

As a retired builder, Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers says he can picture many of the possibilities Blount outlined and it might warrant further analysis before it’s put back on the market.

In other town business, the aldermen:

• Approved $4,844 for eight upgraded radios and 20 Bluetooth communications improvements for the Fire Department.

• Approved $5,915 for two desktop computers, four laptop computers and four 24-inch monitors for the Fire Department.

• Swore in Shelly Shockley as deputy town clerk. For now, she replaces Scott Stewart, who left for another job. Town Clerk Tanya Word is on medical leave.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.