Smithfield
Town Council

    report from August 3 session

Council members present: Mayor Andy Moore, David Barbour, Marlon Lee, Steve Rabil, Travis Scott, David Stevens, Roger Wood
Absent:
John Dunn


Townhouses like these are envisioned for the proposed subdivision across US 70 Business from the Amazon site in West Smithfield that would also include single-family houses and apartment buildings.

RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION COULD HAVE 698 DWELLINGS

The council spent the better part of two hours going over details of the proposed subdivision, for which developers are seeking conditional zoning – a new tool for North Carolina's local governments that allows land-use rezoning to be done with specific requirements agreed upon by a project's developers and elected officials.

Carolina Land Group Inc., based in Cary, is taking the lead in seeking the town's approval of Floyd Landing, the name of the subdivision that would include as many as 118 single-family dwellings, 220 townhouses, and 360 apartments.

Developer Mark Ashness told the council that tentative selling prices would be in the low $200,000s for the stand-alone houses and $180,000-to-low $200,000s for the townhouses. Apartment rents would range from $850 to $1,600 monthly for units with either one, two, or three bedrooms, he noted.

Planning Director Stephen Wensman pointed out that lot sizes and street widths would be smaller than what the town permits in traditional single-family neighborhoods, yet offset by keeping 75% of the project's 199.8 acres undeveloped as streams, ponds, wetlands, and floodplain.

The subdivision would have sidewalks on both sides of all streets and an eight-foot-wide walking trail along a privacy berm that would be constructed between US 70 Business and the closest dwellings, Mr. Wensman noted. "Private parks" with playground structures and "passive lawn areas" are also planned.

Council members expressed concerns about streets too narrow for parking, sufficiency of convenient off-street parking for guests, room for garbage and trash receptacles, mailbox clusters, and the quality of exterior finishes of the houses.

In the end, the council tabled a decision on the rezoning request until its September 7 session to give the town's planning staff and the developers time to work out specific responses to the council's concerns.


HIGHER SEWER CHARGES IN EFFECT NEXT MONTH

Approving Tuesday's Consent Agenda without discussion, the council raised
the town's sewer rates to cover a recently adopted increase of more than 5% in what the county charges for treatment of wastewater received from several municipalities including Smithfield. Effective September 1, the new rates will be applied to customers' monthly usage of water from the town's system. That's because water consumption is metered at each residence and place of business but sewage discharges are not.


BIDS TO BE SOUGHT FOR CEDAR DRIVE DRAINAGE

The council ordered staff to get bids on larger stormwater drainage piping for Cedar Drive in the Pine Acres neighborhood in response to repeated episodes of flooding after heavy rainfall. "It's time to get something done," Councilman Lee exclaimed, voicing his frustration that the problem has been neglected by the town for a number of years. Town Manager Mike Scott said prices for larger pipes were obtained last year – $52,600 for 440 feet of pipe 24 inches in diameter, $57,000 for 36-inch pipe – but are likely outdated in light of recent spikes in the cost of construction materials. He also warned that the larger piping would help but likely not prevent all flooding after heavy rains in the future. Those new bids will be presented to the council at its September meeting.


A COMPLAINT ABOUT PINE STRAW AS FIRE HAZARD

Lindsay Bean, an Eden Woods resident, complained about pine straw piling up outside a vacant house next door to hers on Alpine Court, calling it a fire hazard that ought to be addressed by the town. "It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger," she exclaimed, adding that Raleigh and other cities and towns have rules about such things. Councilman Barbour said he has experienced a similar situation in his West Smithfield neighborhood, where a "huge mound of mulch" left unattended got infested with a hornet's nest. "Something needs to be done," he advised the town's code-enforcement staff.


DOWNTOWN, LIBRARY, PROPERTY APPOINTMENTS

The council appointed Blake Gotliffe to the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation's Board of Directors, reappointed Mary Nell Ferguson to the town's Historic Properties Commission, and appointed Monique Austin to the Board of Adjustment, which considers exceptions to the town's land-use rules.



THREE EVENTS APPROVED FOR PUBLIC PLACES

The council approved permits for three special events:
• Love Connection's "Unity in the Community" at the Town Commons amphitheater, noon to 5  p.m. Monday, September 6.

• Third StrEATery outdoor dining, 100 block of South Third Street Downtown, 6-9 p.m. on two Fridays: September 10 & October 1.
• School Supply Giveaway at Smith-Collins Park, 11 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 21.



NEW CONTROL DEVICES FOR "LOAD MANAGEMENT"

The council approved purchase of 400 two-way control boxes for a portion of the town's "load management" power customers from Honeywell International, low bidder at $37,500. Utilities Director Ted Credle said the new devices will alert the town of problems with customers' electrical service in addition to the primary purpose of automatically shutting down customers' high-usage equipment (such as HVAC systems) during periods of heightened power consumption. Reducing that "peak demand," Mr. Credle explained, saves the town money since Duke Energy bases its charge to wholesale customers in large part on how much electricity is consumed during those times of heavy use (usually our hottest and coldest days).


A NEW PICKUP TRUCK FOR PUBLIC UTILITIES

The council approved purchase of a 2022 F-250 Series SD pickup truck for Public Utilities'  water and sewer division from Deacon Jones Ford of Goldsboro, which won the contract with the lowest of three bids at $34,783.


"DOWNZONING" CLEARS WAY FOR TWO NEW HOUSES

The council approved Ronda Miller's request to "downzone" 10.5 acres on Hill Road near its intersection with US 70 Business from a business zoning category to a residential category so the tract can be subdivided for two single-family residences.


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