October 18, 2001
Members present: Ed Nolley (Chairman), Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Doug Howard, David Stewart, Cathy Weaver, Helen Sides and Ed Neill.
Members absent: Mark Sigmon, Glenn Hunsucker, Clyde Sigmon, Jerry Beatty, Bryan Harvey and Keith Gabriel.
Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department. Mr. Linh Nguyen from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Planning Branch was also present.
Mr. Nolley called the meeting to order at 7:11 p.m. and said that he would prefer to save the review and approval of the minutes from the last meeting until later in the meeting to allow for anyone that arrived late.
Mrs. George introduced Mr. Nguyen to the group and Mr. Nguyen began the review of the update of the County Thoroughfare Plan. He explained to the group that the current Thoroughfare Plan for the County was completed in 1992, therefore it needs to be updated. He reviewed a DOT map depicting the major roads in Catawba County. He also reviewed handouts with the group that explained the items to be covered in the Thoroughfare Plan Study. He explained how NCDOT determines the deficiency of roads in its system and told the group that NC Highway 150 was definitely over its capacity, especially for a two-lane road.
Mrs. George asked him to put into perspective for the group the traffic projections for Highway 150 with current traffic on Interstate 40. He said that the projected 35,000-traffic count for Highway 150 was similar to the current traffic on the eastern section of Interstate 40 in Catawba County. The group pointed out that the same travelers that use Highway 321 are not the same ones that use the existing Highway 16 or those that will use the future 4-lane Highway 16.
He then focused the discussion on the roads that are located within this particular planning area. He reviewed the roads that are recommended to be widened to 24 feet of pavement. Mr. Howard asked what kind of time frame this would be done in and Mr. Nguyen said that recommendations can be made, but it might take time for these projects to be completed. He said that it was essential for these to be included in the groupís plans and Mr. Nolley concurred. The committee agreed to add this to their transportation recommendations.
Mr. Nguyen then reviewed the condition of the bridges in this planning area. Mr. Beatty said that the oddity about these bridges is that they were constructed at about the same time period. Next, he reviewed the accident report for this area and identified the intersection at Highway 150 and Highway 16 and the intersection of Highway 150 and Slanting Bridge Road as having the highest number of accidents.
Mr. Neill said that he had concerns about the number of passing areas that exist along Highway 16. He said that there are very few and when the four-lane Highway 16 is complete, travel along this road will be even more difficult. Mrs. George informed the group that NCDOT would be holding their public hearing next week for the Transportation Improvement Plan and that the County would be presenting a request for funding for Hwy. 16 and a feasibility study to be conducted on Hwy. 150.
Mr. Nolley asked how the widening of Hwy. 150 near Terrell would be dealt with since it is considered to be a historic area. Mr. Nguyen told him that only as a last resort would the State construct a new road through an area that has been identified as historic.
Next, Mr. Nguyen reviewed the recommendations that have been made by this committee for the transportation in their planning area. He also pointed the group to the handout that he had given them listing the contacts for the NCDOT division that this area is located in.
Mr. Beatty asked how the RPO would factor in to the plan recommendations with its recent inception. Mr. Nguyen said that this is a fairly new structure, so he was not sure how it would be modeled. Mr. Howard said that the best approach would be to plan a thoroughfare plan update every 3-5 years so that projects would not be ignored. Mrs. Sides said that she agreed that it should be left like this. Mr. Stewart said that this process remains to be somewhat political, so it certainly would help if the group continued to express their concerns. Mr. Neill made a motion to make this window 3 to 5 years, Mr. Howard seconded this motion and the group unanimously approved this recommendation.
Mr. Neill asked about the stretch of Highway 16 between Jones Fish Camp and Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. Mr. Nguyen said that it would be at least 2008 or after before this area was constructed. The group again discussed their concerns over Highway 150 and the traffic and the fact that it needs to be widened as soon as possible.
Mr. Stewart asked about the rights-of-way for the State roads in this area. Mr. Nguyen told him that in many cases, NCDOT is not clear about the right-of-way that exists or even if it does. Mr. Stewart said that the part of the recommendations that include widening the paving for roads might also need to include obtaining additional right-of-way as well.
Mr. Nguyen continued to review the groupís recommendations with them and explained the areas in which DOT could play a part and areas in which they would not be as directly involved. Mrs. George asked Mr. Nguyen about the groupís recommendation of requiring 12-foot wide driveways and he said that he has not encountered this with any other community in the State. She said that this was especially a concern for Mr. Neill and Mr. Neill explained that he recommended this for safety concerns that he has when driveways are too narrow. Mr. Nguyen said that the group could still make this recommendation as a local requirement. Mr. Neill said that this particular recommendation should also include a required minimum three-foot turn radius.
Mr. Nguyen then reviewed the bicycle lane recommendations made by the group. He said that this was something that NCDOT was actively pursuing to coordinate with Catawba County. He said that John Marshall at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments has been the contact for this initiative. He recommended that the group prioritize the bike lanes that they have included in their plan in order for them to be funded.
The group briefly discussed the issue of widening shoulders for new subdivision roads and sidewalks in new subdivisions. Mr. Beatty and Mr. Neill emphasized the need for these guidelines in the groupís plan recommendations. Mr. Beatty said that he thought that new developments on major/minor collectors should be required to set aside additional right-of-way along their entire boundary to allow for future widening. He said that he thought this should be required of any future residential or commercial development.
Mr. Nolley said that he did not hear any objections from the group for including this recommendation in their plan.
Mr. Nguyen concluded his portion of the discussion.
Mr. Beatty asked for Buffalo Shoals Road and Monbo Road to be included in the bike plan (item #16 of recommendations).
Mr. Nolley thanked Mr. Nguyen for his presentation to the group. He then asked the members to review the minutes and if there were any recommended changes. No changes were recommended, so the minutes were approved as submitted.
He then asked Mrs. George to review the recommended zoning maps for this area. Mrs. George pointed out on a map the latest changes that were recommended by the group for this planning area. She asked the members if they would want to get a copy of this map to review exactly what they are recommending and the members welcomed this idea. She told the group that she would get them copies of the maps for their review. She also asked them to review the drafts of the recommendations prior to the next meeting.
Mr. Smith reviewed Edgewater Pines with the group, the proposed subdivision to be reviewed at the next Subdivision Review Board meeting. He then asked the group for their recommendation regarding the possible rezoning request for the property owned by Griffin Kale on Highway 150. The group said that they could not recommend for this property to be rezoned to commercial. They could only support a residential or office-institutional use.
The next meeting date is scheduled for Thursday, November 15, 2001.
Mr. Nolley adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.