Updated Wednesday, 11:24 a.m.
Davidson’s Town Board on Tuesday agreed to allow Piedmont Natural Gas to run a gas pipeline through Fisher Farm, off Shearers Road in northeast Davidson. And planning manager Ben McCrary presented the board with a request for money to complete a $2.5 million road connection and improvements in the Potts-Sloan-Beaty corridor on Davidson’s West Side.
Also Tuesday the board:
- Approved two property tax refunds totaling $134.40, from the Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor.
- Held a closed session to discuss a personnel matter.
- Heard requests from department heads for inclusion in a new 5-year capital improvement plan, including Mr. McCrary’s proposal for the Potts-Sloan-Beaty connection. (More below.)
- Joined students from Community School of Davidson in practicing a “flash mob dance” the board is learning, to be performed at this Saturday’s Green Day festival on the Village Green. (See more in our Sept. 8 news item, “Learn a dance for Green Day with CSD’s dancers.”
See the board agenda and related documents on the town website.
GAS LINE EASEMENT
Piedmont Natural Gas is in the midst of planning a 127-mile pipeline to supply natural gas to Duke/Progress Energy’s Sutton power plant in Wilmington. PNG says the plant is replacing three coal-burning units with natural-gas-fired units, a move it says will reduce air pollutants.
The route cuts northwest to southeast through the northern part of Davidson. That includes a section running along the west branch of the East Rocky River. The company’s initial proposed route took the pipeline through private property on the west side of the creek. But town officials say they had met with PNG to encourage a route that matched up with other rights-of-way through the area, including for sewer line extensions and a possible greenway.
Town Manager Leamon Brice said PNG agreed to reconsider the route, and the board Tuesday night voted 5-0 in favor of an easement that would allow the pipeline to run through Fisher Farm. Under the agreement, the town of Davidson would sell PNG an easement totaling 4.85 acres, at a price of $15,345 per acre, or $74,500 total. The price is equal to the value in a recent appraisal, Mr. Brice told the board.
The town said it’s not sure when the work would begin. The pipeline would not be visible once the work is done, except for a testing pipe or pipes.
As we reported in July, PNG also has agreed to realign the route to limit environmental damage where it passes through Davidson College’s ecological preserve.
See the easement approved at Tuesday’s meeting on the town website.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
The town has begun drafting a new 5-year capital improvement budget for 2012-17, and commissioners heard another series of presentations from town department heads outlining needs for big projects in the coming years, as well as smaller needs in the next year. The town hasn’t had a capital improvement plan, or CIP, in several years, mainly because of annual subsidies paid to the money-losing MI-Connection Communications System. That means there’s been no moneyfor big-ticket projects such as sidewalks, new facilities, vehicles and computers.
But Davidson and its partner in MI-Connection, the town of Mooresville, revised the agreement governing MI-Connection in May, in a deal that halves Davidson’s $2.1 million share of the subsidy this year. (Davidson has agreed to pay Mooresville back in the future in exchange for a fixed $1 million annual payment.)
That means there could be extra money in the budget to begin tackling long-range projects. Last month, the board heard from the fire chief and the public works chief. Here’s a summary of Tuesday night’s presentations:
- ADMINISTRATION – Assistant Town Manager Dawn Blobaum requested a new car for town employee travel, which would replace an existing 13-year-old car with 106,000 miles on it. Also in her requests: new audio visual equipment for the Town Board meeting room, including a new projector; new computer servers; and money for a study of town hall salaries. She also requested money for $1,000 “startup grants,” to help new nonprofits organize in town. The town recently has had requests from two groups: a new lifelong learning program called DavidsonLearns and PEES, the Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability.
- DOWNTOWN – Davidson Downtown Manager Kim Fleming had no capital projects to add to the CIP, but requested money for several items: $6,500 for additional parking and way-finding signs, and $4,500 for a Buy Local promotion this year to help local retail businesses. She also would like $8,000 for business recruitment next year, and money for three information kiosks around town and for a retail rent subsidy program to help attract businesses the town desires.
- PLANNING – Planning Manager Ben McCrary had one major item on his priority list for the next few years: Money to connect Sloan and Potts streets on Davidson’s West Side and carry out a “Potts-Sloan-Beaty” corridor program. The street connection and improvements have long been on the town’s wish list, as a way to ease traffic on Main Street by creating an alternate route around downtown. The work would cost about $2.5 million, of which the town would pay $500,000, or 20 percent, in the 2015 budget year, Mr. McCrary said. Also in the Planning Department request is money for two new part-time employees and an annual budget to revise or complete small-area plans around town.
- POLICE – Police chief Jeanne Miller said her top priority is replacing police cruisers and equipment at the rate of two or three per year in the coming years. The department also needs new digital radios. And she said she would like to add two or three new officers over the next couple of years, to keep up with the department’s stated goal of adding two new officers for every 1,000-person increase in the town population.
- PARKS & RECREATION – Manager Kathryn Spatz outlined several major projects for possible inclusion in the capital budget in the next few years: Renovating the old pump station at the end of South Street as Parks & Recreation offices; upgrading and adding lighting at McEver Fields on South Street, in partnership with Davidson Youth Baseball Association; and developing a new master plan for parks and open space at Fisher Farm, Abersham, the Allison Farm and the Vitek property, near Abersham. She also proposed paying for an upgrade to the restrooms at Ada Jenkins Center so they are accessible to disabled, and reaching an agreement with center to use the gymnasium there. Also on the list, money for a recurring land/easement acquisition fund and a $2,000 matching grant to help plan a possible bicycle/pedestrian trail along the proposed Red Line Regional Rail Project through town. And she also wants to update the town’s 12-year-old parks and rec master plan.
Download detailed spreadsheets with projected costs of the various projects and needs, on the town website.
The requests presented last month and Tuesday night are the first step in developing the Capital Improvement Plan and town budget. The board still must discuss the requests and agree on a priority list for funding. Commissioners could decide on a new capital spending plan later this fall or early in 2012.
July 31, 2012, “College, Piedmont Natural Gas agree on new pipeline route.”
Feb. 16, 2012, “Plans for natural gas pipeline through town spark concerns”
Sept. 28, 2011, “Town considers moving Parks & Rec offices to South St.”
TOWN BOARD RETREATING TO ASHEVILLE
The five town commissioners and Mayor John Woods will travel to Asheville Thursday and Friday, Sept. 13 and 14, for a quarterly retreat. The board will dine Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Market Place Restaurant. A town announcement says no town business will be discussed.
Commissioners are staying at the Hotel Indigo, 151 Haywood St., where they will meet on Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The daylong meeting in the hotel’s Inspiration Meeting Room “is designed to give the Board an opportunity to reflect on how you are working together,” according to a town announcement.
Mayor Woods said Tuesday the board decided to split its fall retreat in two. The board is gathering alone this week to work on team building, then in October with town staff to discuss town business, including the proposed 5-year capital improvement plan.
Commissioners are paying for the dinner, hotel and travel themselves. The town is paying $410 for meals Friday and for a facilitator to guide the board’s team-building discussions. The facilitator’s fee is $2,250.
See the meeting announcement on the town website.