November 18 , 2004
Staff present: Andrea Lytle, John Kenny and John Tippett from Western Piedmont Council of Governments and Mary George, Sue Ballbach and Connie Killian from Catawba County
Chairman Scott Rhoney, Chairman, called the meeting to order and welcomed all those in attendance. He expressed his thanks to the Committee members for their good work and presentations made at the community meeting on November 4th. He felt that they had a very good attendance (over 100).
Mr. Terry Bledsoe made a motion, seconded by Mr. Al King, to approve the September minutes/summary as submitted. Chairman Rhoney turned the meeting over to Mr. John Kenny.
asked Mr. King to conduct his picture presentation. Mr. Al King presented
his photos of likes and dislikes.
Mr. John Kenny discussed with the Committee the comments from the community meeting held on November 4th. He stated that this was one of the best-attended community meetings from all the Small Area Plans and he congratulated the members on their success in inviting their neighbors. Ms. Mary George also congratulated the Committee members for their excellent job of facilitating the small groups at this meeting.
Ms. Andrea Lytle wanted to know the general reaction from the members - were they surprised about anything and how did they feel about the meeting?
Chairman Rhoney stated that most people came because they thought they were going to be annexed and they wanted to keep their community the way it is. He also said his main concern was providing recreational opportunities and others seemed to feel the same way. Mr. Bledsoe stated that he was impressed on how the meeting was handled and the way the people participated.
Staff tried to find out from the members why so many people decided to come - advertisement in church bulletins, etc. Chairman Rhoney replied that this area had a great sense of community and people wanted to know what was going on and to make sure that they were heard if it concerned them in anyway. Mr. Kenny told the Committee that the results from this meeting would be used as a yardstick for their future document.
Ms. Lytle reviewed the answers from the first question at the community meeting - "What do you like about the Plateau area?" A total of 107 comments were for recorded and some of the major comments included liking the rural character of the area; low crime rate; no large housing developments; open spaces; clean environment and diverse ecology.
The second question asked was "What concerns do you have for the Plateau area?" The 191 total responses to this question focused on concerns with heavy traffic and congestion along Hwy. 10. Some of the other responses included not enough recreational areas in the community, overcrowded schools, too many government regulations, annexation and too much residential growth.
The third question was "What is your future vision of the Plateau area?" There were 177 total responses.. Some of the top things were: widening of roads; limited commercial development; growth management, and keeping the area rural.
Ms. George told the members that they had great suggestions from the public to help them as they develop their plan and they were told to keep these recommendations handy so they could be referred to as their Plan is being developed.
Mr. Kenny introduced Mr. John Tippett, Transportation Planner, who has been at the WPCOG for the past 25 years. He said that WPCOG is the only COG in the State that does regional transportation planning. Mr. Tippett informed the group that there are no County roads, only State roads, city roads and some private roads. He said that North Carolina was second to Texas with the largest network of State maintained roads in the United States. He explained that NC has 14 State Divisions that handle road construction and Catawba County is located in Division 12 with a NCDOT Maintenance office in each County. He said that each District has a politically appointed Board member to represent his District; the current one for this area is Judge Robert Collier.
The MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) and RPO (Rural Planning Organization) conduct long-range transportation planning for a four county area - Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, and Alexander counties. County Commissioner Barbara Beatty and Planning Director Jacky Eubanks serve on these committees. He stated that there are no new roads planned for the Plateau area. He pointed out the roads in their area are mostly country roads with their major east/west road being Hwy. 10. Hwy. 10 and the portion of Hwy. 18 located in Catawba County are classified as collector roads. He informed the group that they are included in the Rural Planning Organization.
Mr. Tippett reviewed with the Committee the ADT (average daily vehicle) count for major roads in their area. He reviewed specifically Hwy. 127 and its average daily counts. He stated that the opening of the new Hwy. 321 alleviated a lot of traffic from this particular road, and Hwy. 321's ADT is over 30,000 per day toward the Hickory area. He said that as a rule of thumb an average house generates 10 trips per day. Vehicles exceed the population in North Carolina for the first time in history. He told them that the MPO has scheduled a 4-lane divided road for Hwy. 127 sometime in the next 10-years, proposed to stop near Hawksridge Nursery. He said that enough traffic is generated on this road to build this road at the present time.
Mr. Tippett discussed the "NC Moving Ahead Program," funded by Governor Easley to increase the safety of roads in the State. This includes increasing pavement width and updating the present road system throughout the State. The program approved funding for the widening of Hwy. 10 from 18 ft. to 24 ft. from the intersection of Hwy. 127 west to the Lincoln County line (8.24 miles) sometime after March 2005. Mr. Tippett asked the Committee if they see any places on their roads that need signal lights, caution lights, guardrails, turn signals, etc., to come back with these suggestions at its next meeting.
Concerning pedestrian system, Mr. Tippett stated that this Planning area was not conducive to sidewalks because of its large tracts of land, etc. He further added that it is now a policy of the MPO and NCDOT to evaluate any new road construction projects for potential pedestrian needs, i.e. sidewalks and crossovers and bicycle accommodations. Pertaining to bicycle systems Mr. Tippet said that NCDOT funded a Bicycle Route Map and signing project that has been underway for several years with completion expected sometime this year. NCDOT will be evaluating its future widening projects to provide bicycle routes.
Mr. Tippett stated that there is no transit system located in this Planning Area. Vans are available, five days per week, through Piedmont Wagon to transport senior citizens and disabled residents in the area. In the next two years Piedmont Wagon System may be able to offer limited transit service to this Planning area.
Regarding rail service, Mt. Tippett stated that NCDOT has determined that its next major expansion in the State will be in Western North Carolina. Upgrades to the existing tracks need to be done by NCDOT before the State can put a passenger train on the tracks. These upgrades are underway. Plans are to initiate service between Salisbury and Asheville (the most requested designation in the State) with a stop at the Hickory Depot. This service is expected by 2010.
Mr. Kenny talked with the Committee concerning "Guiding Principles." He told the Board that Guiding Principles are very general categories. He reviewed the proposed Guiding Principles from the DRADFT list in the agenda packet for this meeting.
Mr. Kenny reminded the group to bring their specific transportation improvement recommendations to the next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, December 2, 2004.
The meeting adjourned at 8:56 pm.