By MICAH HENRY
The Taylorsville Town Council met on Monday, March 13, at Town Hall. All members were in attendance and Mayor George Holleman presided over the meeting. Among the agenda items was an Order of Abatement for five lots with unsafe structures in the Grover Bowman Mobile Home Park.
Bill Rogers, Alexander County Chief Building Code Official, brought the item before the Council. A public hearing was held on the topic as well, namely lots 6, 7, 19, 20, and 30, which Rogers deemed unsafe. Rogers said the structures constitute a fire hazard, are dangerous to life, health, and other property, their condition was likely to contribute to blight, disease, vagrancy, or be a danger to children, and have a tendency to attract persons intent on criminal activity, in violation of N.C. General Statute 160D-1121.
Dale Clary and Shelly Sebastian, who each own townhomes adjacent to the park, spoke about the lots in question. Both expressed concern about the condition of the mobile home park and illegal activities there.
Rogers stated there have been squatters living in some of the trailers. There were instances of electricity and water being cut off by utility providers but that someone had reconnected power by bridging the power meter with two butter knives.
Taylorsville Police Chief Douglas Bowman indicated there were 105 calls for police to respond to Grover Bowman Mobile Home Park in the past year. Several reports of drug activity had been investigated and arrests had resulted. He said reports of water theft had been investigated in which someone broke water meter locks to “straight-pipe” water supplies after the utility had been shut off.
Councilman Ronnie Robinette noted that he lives near the lots and also observed suspicious activity.
Town Council members unanimously approved the Order of Abatement for the five lots with the owner having 15 days to comply with the order.
In other Town business:
• Council members heard bids were received on two of the four Town properties up for sale: 610 East Main Avenue and 614 East Main Avenue. (Properties at 36 and 46 North Center Street did not receive any bids.) The East Main Avenue properties were bid upon by Marty Pennell, who bid $80,000 for each property, with each bid accompanied by a bid bond of $12,000. Council approved these bids contingent upon no upset (higher) bids being received in the next 10 days. It was also decided to re-advertise the two North Center Street properties up for bids.
• The Council approved the addition of two Level Two charging ports for electric cars at Matheson Park. This project will cost an estimated $18,500 and will be paid for by $8,500 of General Fund monies and $10,000 from the NC Division of Air Quality’s Phase 2 Zero Emission Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Level 2 Public Access Program rebate. Town Manager David Odom noted that Duke Energy would offset the electricity costs with $963 over three years from their Electric Vehicle Make Ready Infrastructure Program.
Councilwoman Kim Brown expressed concern about possible vandalism of the charging facility at the park. Odom noted that one charger had been planned at Town Hall and the second at Matheson Park, but Duke Energy was unable to lower the transformer at Town Hall to facilitate placement there, so both chargers are slated for the park.
• Town Public Utilities Manager Aaron Wike noted that three bids had been received for declared state of emergency debris removal, if needed. Two bids were from local firms (Hometown Tree Service and Taylorsville Tree Care) and one was from a firm in Mississippi (Looks Great Services of Mississippi). The Council approved the bids to keep on file in case they are needed.
• Council approved the resolution to allow employees to participate in the state’s NC 457 Plan for retirement investment, which allows for part-time employee participation. The current 401(k) program was only for full-time employees.
• The Council approved transfer of funds from the Drug Task Force Revenue line item ($10,000) to the task force expense account to cover expenses from guns, silencers, and badges for the police department.
• The board also approved General Fund budget transfers that did not increase the overall budget, including line items for Christmas lights, street resurfacing, parade, contracted service, and other items.
• Council members then approved a Water/Sewer fund transfer of $117,722 for meter upgrades, system maintenance, lift stations, water tap installation, lab water samples, leak repairs, and utilities.
• The Council declined the offered loan funds from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, due to no grant funding included in the offer for a waste water project. In prior years, 90 % grant/10% loan or 80/20 or 50/50 funds had been received. Staff recommended instead to use State Directed funds to address the Paul Payne Store Road lift station and upsize the existing force main and use NCDOT encroachment for the new upsized force main in a new route to reduce friction losses from the existing line. The waste water treatment plant project will be tabled until another grant cycle.
• Mayor Holleman recognized Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association members Tracy Trimble and Lorie Street, who said the Unifour areas have had meaningful exchanges of ideas and dialog with the sister city region of Altenburger Land region of Germany. The Council issued a resolution to proclaim 30 years of participation in the Sister Cities Association.
• Police Chief Bowman noted that the fire-damaged property at 26 Saunders Lane had been condemned.
• Wike noted that staff are looking for viable options on a Jet Vac sewer cleaning truck. The Town is obligated to clean at least 10 percent of its sewer lines each year and has had to contract this service out in the past. A Jet Vac truck would allow for Town personnel to clean lines.
• Matheson Park has been the site of vandalism including smashed toilet tank lids, graffiti, and water left running. Wike proposed sinks and toilets with automatic valves, but new water lines would need to be placed to the park restrooms.
• Playground equipment for Matheson Park, purchased six months ago, is now ready to be installed in the next few days, said Odom.
• Councilwoman Brown indicated that the recently removed Crepe Myrtle which formerly stood in front of Fueled Streetside Coffee on East Main Avenue, known as the “Prayer Tree” by many customers of the shop, will be replaced with a planter pot containing a donated tree, either a weeping cherry, crab apple, or redbud tree, courtesy of local nursery owner J.D. Sink.
• The next Town Council meeting is set for April 4, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.