Startown Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
for April 6, 2004

Members Present: Tony Wolfe, Chairman; Chip Canupp, Vice-Chairman; Dawn Mull; Charlie Wyant; Kevin Sanders; Reba Reinhardt; Clarence Hood; Jerry Lael; and Rusty Lutz.

Members Absent: Keith Stahley, Thomas Jones, and Glenn Pattishall.

Staff Present: Jacky Eubanks, Rich Hoffman, Sue Ballbach, and Connie Killian from the Catawba County Planning Department; and John Kenny, John Tippett and Anthony Starr from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Chairman Wolfe who welcomed everyone.

The minutes were approved with one correction-Mr. Lutz was listed as being absent and he was present at the March 11, 2004 meeting.

Mr. Eubanks introduced the Planning office's new Staff Planner to the group - Mrs. Susan Ballbach.

Chairman Wolfe told the Committee that they would be hearing from the Town of Maiden and its future plans concerning planning and utility polices, as well transportation issues and policies for the County.

Mr. Anthony Starr informed the Committee that since he serves as Maiden's Planner he would discuss Maiden's future plans. He informed them that Maiden had adopted a new Land Use Plan in 2000, which identified its goals including future land use and water and sewer extensions. He said that they also adopted the Hwy. 321 Corridor Plan just as the County had. He pointed out on the map that most of Maiden's area is zoned residential. He told them about the different size lots allowed. He pointed out on the map some of the proposed industrial areas, which included properties in the area of Startown Rd., W. Maiden Rd. and US 321. He said commercial zoning is proposed along W. Maiden Rd. and Startown Rd.

Mr. John Kenny informed the Committee that much of the areas shown on the map were not actually part of Maiden or its extraterritorial jurisdictional area. Their Plan included possible areas that would be or considered to be a part of Maiden 10 years down the road. Mr. Starr told the Committee that Maiden's ETJ boundary was not shown on the map, but explained that the ETJ area for Maiden isn't quite a mile. Mr. Kevin Sanders pointed out the actual ETJ area to the Committee members.

Mr. Starr pointed out on the map Maiden's future waterlines. Those pointed out were the major trunk lines that would affect this planning area. One of these trunk lines is located along Startown Road. He stated that Hickory had built a 36-inch line from Hwy. 70 to Robinson Rd. that connects to Startown Rd. and goes to Maiden. Hickory has an agreement with Maiden to purchase water from Hickory for distribution. He said that the Town of Maiden at present has a waterline up Startown Rd. to Kings Grant subdivision, which it now serves. They hope to have waterlines extended to Zeb Haynes Rd. and Blackburn Ridge Rd. in the future.

Concerning sewer lines, Mr. Starr pointed these out on the map, and stated that they run along W. Maiden Rd. and they are currently installing a line to Clarks Creek Subdivision as part of a Community Development Block Grant. Maiden's future plans would include sewer lines on Startown Rd. to Kings Grant Subdivision and along Blackburn Bridge Rd.

John Tippett, the region's Transportation Planner from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG), explained his role was to coordinate transportation planning which included transit, bicycle, pedestrian projects and sidewalks. He said that WPCOG was the only Council of Governments in the State that provides staff to a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Federal legislation requires all transportation projects to receive MPO approval before any of the transportation modes (as described above) can receive federal funding. After the 2000 Census, the MPO was expanded in the Unifour to include all local governments in the four county area except Taylorsville because the urbanized area had greatly expanded from its original designation in 1980. Taylorsville and the non-urban parts of the four counties are included in the Rural Planning Organization (RPO). He stated that there are two groups that make the decisions for the MPO, the Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), made up of local planners, and the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), consisting of elected officials and one Board member from the NC Board of Transportation.

Mr. Tippett said that the highway network in this Startown planning area is the best in the County especially with the completion of the US Hwy. 321. Other roads he discussed were Hwy. 10 which is a good east/west road, Robinson Rd., Startown Rd., River Rd. and Zion Church Rd., all north/south connectors. None of the roads in this area is above "capacity," defined as the traffic volume that a road is designed to handle. He stated there were only a few minor things that needed to be corrected or fixed in this study area - several intersections where left turn lanes need to be added, more pavement added, and possible bridges needing repair.

When SAP Committee members make recommendations for their area, they need to plan for at least 25 years down the road. He explained the seven stages that a proposed road has to go through that affect priorities for new roads. He stated that all new roads must go into a 7-year plan called the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). A proposed road must reach this plan before it can be built. The three major roads in this area currently on the TIP are US Hwy. 321, Robinson Road, and Southern Corridor, which are in different stages at the present time. Mr. Tippett informed the Committee that Hwy. 321 is being used a lot more than the Highway Dept. had expected. Its use has jumped 24% overall in the past two years, with truck traffic increasing from 8% to 20%. He explained presently there are four exits on this road and another exit planned at Sandy Ford Road. He informed the group that land had already been purchased for this new interchange. He said that they needed to closely look at the recommendations that they make for land use at this new intersection

Robinson Road extension has not reached the TIP, but the Southern Corridor is in the plan but without funding resources. The Southern Corridor will be a 4-lane divided road without a median. It will not have full access control as the new Hwy.321. He said that the Southern Corridor would probably be 15-20 years before it is built.

There was a lot of discussion about the two proposed roads through this area. Mr. Tippett reminded the members that this was their area so they needed to take a look at the area and make transportation recommendations designed to maintain the characteristics of the community and other ways to improve the road network.

The Thoroughfare Plan for the region is being updated and should be completed within the next year. This plan should address all the new traffic patterns, etc. that might make changes in the proposed roads.

Mr. Tippett stated that concerning pedestrian system, the Startown area lacks connections between residential areas. He stated he felt that there would not be a large demand for sidewalks in this study area.

Concerning bikeway routes through this area, Mr. Tippett said that a map had been completed that evaluated all the roads to be used as bicycle routes. This Committee will receive a copy of this map and will be asked to look at the designated roads and review the recommendations. There were a number of comments concerning bike routes and the fact that they were needed in this area.

Concerning the transit system, Mr. Tippett stated Piedmont Wagon offers transportation service in the Hickory area and limited service to the Startown area using vans. A planning process is working to establish a regional system within the next five years among the four counties, Catawba, Burke, Caldwell and Alexander Counties.

Mr. Tippett informed the members about passenger rail in Catawba County. He stated the next step for the development of railways is passenger service from Salisbury to Asheville, which will go through several cities in the County. The Department of Transportation says that 2007 is the projected date for this rail service. Major upgrades to tracks need to be done before this rail service can happen, costing approximately $150 million. Amtrak will be operator for this rail service.

Mr. Tippett stated that there is nothing being planned for air service in the study area, but Hickory is negotiating with two air passenger companies for passenger flights, which may occur during 2004.

Mr. Starr handed out flyers for the community meeting to be held at Startown School on May 11th. He suggested that each Committee member give out 10 to their friends. He informed the group of how this meeting would be handled. The recommendations from this meeting will be brought back to the Committee to be used as a basis for their planning process. He stated that the more people that they could get to attend this meeting the more suggestions they would have to help them make better recommendations throughout their planning process. This meeting is scheduled for May 11 beginning at 6:30 pm in the Startown School lunchroom and will be adjourned at 8:30 pm. He asked the members to be at this meeting by 6:00 pm.

Mr. Starr said that at the next meeting Newton and Hickory will be presenting their planning initiatives, the recommendations from the community meeting (May 11) will be discussed, and the group will begin developing transportation recommendations. The next Committee meeting will be on May 13th in the Meeting Room of the Government Center.

This meeting adjourned at 9:07 pm.