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Granite Quarry ready to tackle some sidewalk repair

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen, which has been looking to address street and sidewalk improvements for a long time, voted Monday to tackle sidewalks first.

“Let’s get started,” Alderman Kim Cress said.

Cress said several sidewalks in town present safety issues and those should be the priority. The money would come from the town’s Powell Bill fund, which has a balance of $84,724.

Alderman John Linker said the town should start on sidewalk repair now, accomplish what it can with the available money, then have the state Local Government Commission tell the town how far it can go on other street improvements.

Interim Town Manager Larry Smith reported Monday that Granite Quarry passed a pre-application conference Oct. 10 with the commission on its proposal for a $350,000 capital project budget for street and sidewalk improvements.

The town board voted in August for that big of a budget, which would be paid back over seven years at $50,000 a year in Powell Bill funds, which towns receive from the state for local streets.

Granite Quarry now has the actual Local Government Commission application in hand so a formal review process can begin, Smith reported.

“For two years, we haven’t done anything,” Linker said, expressing some frustration at the board’s inaction on street and sidewalk needs.

In another matter, aldermen voted Monday to move forward with plans to upgrade the Town Hall’s facade, landscaping and parking lot within a project not to exceed $299,999.

“This could be the first step in the town’s commitment to the master plan,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers said.

A couple of years ago, the town paid consultants for a downtown master plan.

Smith said he will return to the board with a project ordinance for aldermen to review on the Town Hall changes.

At Monday’s meeting, aldermen also heard comments on a proposed rezoning for Grateful Heart Ministries’ operation at 706 Dunn’s Mountain Road and proposed revisions to the town’s comprehensive land use plan.

A large crowd supporting Grateful Heart Ministries and its rezoning attended the board’s meeting. During a public-comment period, 13 people spoke in support of the zoning change from a residential district to a conditional district with office-institutional zoning.

The land in question encompasses five parcels, including the historic Shuford School. The impetus for the rezoning came when the owner investigated the possibility of locating a church on two of the parcels.

Churches already are allowed as a conditional use in the current residential zoning, but the Grateful Heart Ministries operation itself is a legal, nonconforming use.

The office-institutional zoning would allow churches by right. A conditional district attached to the zoning would outline specific uses to be allowed.

Aldermen forwarded the rezoning request to the Planning Board for more review.

That’s also what happened to the land use plan after aldermen held a public hearing on the document.

Granite Quarry resident Ed Shell pointed out several concerns he had on the plan’s  wording or language associated with connectivity between neighborhoods, the proposed U.S. 52 bypass, multifamily housing and growth.

LaFevers agreed. “There’s a lot in here I did not know what it was saying at times,” he said.

Mayor Bill Feather said Shell made some good observations that needed to be discussed further.

“I think if we keep refining it, we’ll get there,” Linker said, comparing the plan to a preface of a book and a work in progress.

The last revision of the comprehensive plan for the town was in 2000. Each alderman was asked to write down his thoughts on the plan and send those comments to Town Planner Steve Blount.

Those notations and Shell’s concerns should be sent back to the Planning Board, the aldermen decided.

In another matter, the town board adopted a resolution to consider the purchase offer made for town-owned property at 316 S. Main St.

Journey Capital LLC, represented by John Sears, has offered $67,000 for the 3.56 acres, part of which the town uses for leaf and limb storage.

There are other requirements of the purchase offer. It is contingent on the successful planning and zoning approval of a plat of townhouses proposed for the site.

The town also would be allowed to lease the site for its leaf and limbs operation at the rear of the property for up to a year. The town would maintain the leased area until the operation is moved to a new site.

Once that happens, the town will remove the privacy fence around the area at no cost to Journey Capital. And Journey Capital would agree to handle the cleanup of the existing operation at no cost to the town.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263. More on the Granite Quarry meeting will be in Thursday’s edition.





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