Balls Creek Small Area Planning Committee Meeting 
October 1, 2001

Members present: Robbie Bennett, Vance Dalton (chairman), Robert Crouch, Phillip Beard, Eddie Barringer, Michael Isenhour, Nancy Smyre, Janice Morrow, Nancy Jo Teague, and Eric Shook. 

Members absent: Stanley Stewart, Mike Rutledge, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), and Jerry McCombs.

Staff present: Mary George from the Catawba County Planning Department; John Kenny and Susan Baumann, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG), and Linh Nguyen from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) – Statewide Planning Group.

The minutes from the September 5, 2001 meeting were approved.

Mr. Nguyen discussed two issues 1) The County Thoroughfare Plan update and 2) the Committee’s recommendations to be incorporated into the Thoroughfare Plan.  Handouts were given to committee members and reviewed.  Mr. Nguyen informed the Committee that the County’s 1992 Thoroughfare Plan is being updated using a 25-year horizon time.  The traffic flow on the roads, system-wide, was discussed.  Mr. Nguyen informed them that they don’t look at each individual road, but at the backbone system so the roads can sufficiently handle traffic from inside the County to outside and from outside to inside.

Transportation issues which will be included in the plan are: roads, transit, bike, pedestrian and bridge replacement plans.  These will also have implementation strategies with priorities. 

Mr. Nguyen then reviewed the Committee’s transportation plan recommendations.  He recommended that others maintain their community gateways or if by NCDOT, coordination needs to take place.

He informed the Committee that the redesign of intersections, warning lights and traffic signals go through NCDOT’s District Office as long as it is warranted by traffic movements, a review of design and the accident history.  If over a certain threshold then improvements can be implemented.     

Ms. George noted that the Bethany/Mount Olive intersection noted in their recommendation was improved after a recent accident.  

Mr. Nguyen said that increased pavement width for roads will be incorporated in the Thoroughfare Plan. Those roads with more than 2,000 average daily trips (ADT) will be recommended to be widened to 24 feet.  

Mr. Nguyen noted that a reduction in speed limit and straightening curves in roads would go through the District Office as a request.  Bike routes are currently being established through the WPCOG and DOT.  Mr. Nguyen commented that probably all the committee’s recommendations won’t be included in the Thoroughfare Plan but can be coordinated through the WPCOG.

Mr. Nguyen informed the Committee that the process for adoption of the Thoroughfare Plan will include presentation of a draft to the Planning Board with a public hearing.  Issues will then be revisited as needed.  The Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners will then approve the final plan.  The plan will then go to the NCDOT Board of Transportation.  The County Thoroughfare Plan is updated every ten years and the MPO every five years.

Mr. Isenhour asked about updates on bridges especially Love Road bridge due to weight limitations.  

Mr. Nguyen responded that every two years DOT inspects bridges to see about improving/replacing.  This can be expedited by going through the District Engineer.

Ms. Teague asked about the completion of Highway 16.  

Mr. Nguyen responded that the first section, Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet to Claremont Road, will start in 2003 and it is to be a five-lane urban road.  The remaining section from Claremont Road to Jones Fish Camp will be beyond 2008 and this is to be a four-lane divided road. 

Ms. George reviewed the open-space preservation tools report with the Committee.

Ms. Baumann then discussed the Land Use plan recommendations.

Minimum housing codes were discussed.  The question was raised as to why they were not established in the County.  Ms. George indicated that a report had been done several years ago, which she would provide a copy to the Committee at its next meeting.  Mr. Crouch stated that mobile home appearance criteria have helped with this issue.

Sidewalks were discussed.  The Committee felt that they shouldn’t be mandatory due to the rural character of the area.

Mr. Crouch suggested that the perimeter of subdivisions should be landscaped along with entranceways so a certain percentage of the area is maintained as a natural area.  

The Committee suggested that grant money and education be available to property owners interested in restoring historic homes.

Commercial corridor standards were suggested by Mr. Crouch.  They included having green areas along commercial road frontage; additional setbacks; signage restrictions; facades; and landscaped islands along major corridors.

The planning of commercial space and future office-institutional uses will be developed by the Committee during their mapping discussions.  
Mr. Crouch recommended that trucking industries be allowed at intersections where industrial uses are permitted.  The Committee also suggested that industrial uses could be located adjacent to powerline rights-of-way since these areas are not desirable for residential development.  The Committee recommended that industrial uses be setback from the road and be buffered.

In discussing open space, the Committee recommended that emphasis be placed on voluntary agricultural districts, purchase of development rights and conservation easements along rivers.  The transfer of development rights would be secondary to these programs.
 
The Committee will continue its land use discussions at its next meeting on November 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Balls Creek Lions Club. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.