Balls Creek Small Area Planning Committee Meeting
August 6, 2001

Members present: Nancy Jo Teague, Nancy Smyre, Stanley Stewart, Michael Isenhour, Jerry McCombs, Phillip Beard and Vance Dalton (Chairman).

Members absent: Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Robbie Bennett, Janice Morrow, Eddie Barringer, Robert Crouch, Eric Shook and Mike Rutledge.

Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department, and John Tippett from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Mr. Dalton called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.

Minutes from the last meeting were approved with no changes.

Mr. Dalton said that he thought that the Community Input Meeting went well. He said that he wished that there would have been a better turnout, but it was still a very productive meeting.

Mrs. George handed out an article from the Hickory Daily Record discussing the Community Input Meeting. She went over the list of the results from this meeting. She said that some of the issues that arose at the meeting conflicts with one another like slower growth, but the desire for more infrastructure in the area. She asked for clarity on one statement and Mr. McCombs clarified what was discussed regarding this issue.

Mrs. George said that churches were given high marks as one of the things that are liked about this area. She concluded the review of the results of the Community Input Meeting and the group discussed these. Mr. Dalton said that he heard some concerns regarding the new four-lane Highway 16, but he was not sure if people understood that this is what the meeting was about. He said that this was their chance to influence the impact of this new road.

Mrs. George briefly compared the results of this group's Community Input Meeting with that of the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning Committee. She said that she had not received any additional responses from members of the community that were not able to attend the community meeting. Mr. Dalton asked if any of the members had any additional comments about these results or the meeting. No one provided additional information.

Mrs. George turned the meeting over to Mr. Tippett to lead the group in a discussion about transportation. He said that since this area is not in a city area, then a good relationship with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) was crucial to getting the transportation needs met for this area. He reviewed the Traffic Counts and Current Conditions for this particular planning area (this information was on sheets that were distributed to the members of the group).

Mr. Tippett then went over the Guiding Principles and asked the group members to interject wherever they felt lead to comment. The group discussed the fact that there are many roads in this area (and the County) that are maintained by NCDOT, but that the State does not have signed right-of-way on. Mr. Tippett and Mrs. George explained to the group that this is common across the State.

Mr. Tippett moved on to the Plan Recommendations and went over the community gateways that were identified for this area. Mr. Tippett elaborated to the group what could be done in these areas that were identified as gateways for this community. Mrs. George pointed these two areas (the intersection of NC Highway 16 and Balls Creek Road and the intersection of NC Highway 16 and Buffalo Shoals Road) out to the group on the zoning map. She explained to the group that the new NC Highway 16 would be a four-lane divided highway, which would have a median and would have driveways coming off of it, but there would be intersections of State roads that a driver could turn to go in the opposite direction.

Mr. Tippett asked the members if there were any other areas that they felt should be identified as gateways. The group did not identify any other areas for gateways. Mr. Tippett explained to the group that they would need to guide the County as to how much commercial use they would want to see around these particular nodes.

Mr. Tippett reviewed the areas identified for installation of traffic signals and/or redesigning (of intersections). Mrs. George told the group that the intersection of NC Highway 150 and East Maiden Road was in the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning district, so they marked this off of their sheets. Mr. Tippett had the group to identify which of these intersections that they thought should be redesigned and which should definitely have a traffic signal installed. He told the group to bear in mind that they should only identify intersections that they felt absolutely should have signals installed because of the expense involved and the likelihood of getting these installed. The following intersections were identified with the recommended safety improvement:

- Balls Creek/NC Hwy. 10: traffic signal
- Balls Creek/Little Mtn. Road: redesign
- Buffalo Shoals/E. & W. Bandys Cross Rd: re-design
- Mt. Olive Church/Claremont Rd: warning light
- Little Mountain/Buffalo Shoals Rd: warning light
- Mt. Ruhama/N. Olivers: stop warning
- Buffalo Shoals/Murrays Mill: re-design
- Mt. Olive/Bethany Church: warning/re-design
Mr. Tippett went over the roads identified for additional pavement (widening). These included: - W. Bandys Cross Rd.
- Smyre Farm Rd.
- Water Plant Rd. from Maiden to N. Olivers Cross Rd.
- N. Oliver Cross Rd.
- East Maiden Rd. from new NC Hwy. 16 west to the intersection of Lebanon Rd.
East Maiden Road, from the intersection with Buffalo Shoals Road to the district's boundary, was identified as a road that the speed limit should be reduced to 45 miles per hour. Other safety improvements recommended were: straightening the curve on N. Olivers Cross Rd at the creek; straightening the curve on St. James Church Rd. at the intersection of Jack Whitener; replacing the bridge at Love Road; and installing a safety device or turn lane at Balls Creek Elementary School and Bandys High School.

Mr. Dalton asked about how to address the area near Tuttle Middle School where the road is not a problem now, but twenty years down the road it would need some type of improvement. Mrs. George suggested that the group address this in some form of policy statement.

The next area of transportation to discuss was a pedestrian system. The group identified the need for some type of walking trail from Bandys High School to Mill Creek Middle School and the Balls Creek Campground. Mrs. George asked the group if there was any desire for sidewalks to be required in new subdivisions. The group decided to discuss this further at the next meeting because they felt that there probably should be a threshold, but they were not sure what the threshold should be. Mr. Tippett told the group that this could be re-visited at the next meeting when land use will be discussed.

Mr. Tippett then went over the areas that were identified for increasing pavement width to accommodate bicyclists. They were:

- Mt. Olive Church Rd.
- Murrays Mill Rd.
- Balls Creek Rd.
- NC Hwy. 10 from Murrays Mill Rd. to Balls Creek Rd.
- W. Bandys Cross Rd.
- He said that the State was in the process of designing a bicycle route map for the County.

He then moved on to transit system for this area. Mr. Beard said that he is a driver of one of the vans for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). He said that he does a pick up at the old Lowes Food building at the intersection of NC Highways 16 and 150. Mr. Tippett said that he would also add under this topic to promote the Piedmont Wagon transportation as an option. Also recommended was a potential Park & Ride lot at the Hwy. 16/Buffalo Shoals Rd. intersection.

Mr. Tippett said that where passenger rail is concerned, there would be connection to Hickory around the year 2005. He said that for this area, the group could adopt as part of their plan to encourage Piedmont Wagon to coordinate with this rail system for a connection to the area.

Mrs. George said that at the next meeting, the group would briefly go over the transportation issues that were discussed tonight and make sure that the policies reflected the group's intent and then begin the landuse discussion.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 5, 2001 due to the Labor Day holiday. The meeting will tentatively be held at St. James Lutheran Church.

Mr. Dalton adjourned the meeting at 9:18 pm.