PILOT MOUNTAIN — A standing room crowd of concerned citizens turned out for Monday’s rescheduled town board meeting here, but the only action taken on the re-zoning issue that brought most of them out was to schedule a public hearing on the matter.
The town has received a request to voluntarily annex and rezone a six acre portion of a parcel of land in the 100-block of Barney Venable Road from R-20/GB to RM CD in order to allow the construction of a 48-unit multi-family residential development.
A Planning and Zoning Board Public Hearing in February resulted in more than 30 people commenting on the project. According to town documents, “A large number of the surrounding community spoke in opposition of the project, citing reasons ranging from increased traffic, potential increases in crime and decreases in surrounding property values.”
The Planning and Zoning Board voted three to two recommending denial of the request.
Monday’s board meeting did not include a public hearing on the subject. Instead the item concerning the request on the agenda was to schedule that hearing. Mayor Dwight Adkins told the assembled citizens there was a legal process that must be followed.
Town manager Michael Boaz recommended to commissioners the meeting be held in a larger venue than the town hall, a venue with a suitable sound system, and suggested April 5 in the gym of the Armfield Center.
After several commissioners and citizens present voiced concern over the acoustics and sound system quality at the center, Surry Community’s Pilot Center, Mountain View and Pilot Mountain Middle School were proposed as better alternatives.
Mayor Dwight Adkins declared a 10-minute recess to determine the availability of those venues. After the recess, a motion was made and approved to hold a Public Hearing at Pilot Mountain Middle School on April 5 at 6 p.m.
Boaz said letters would go out to adjacent property owners, and people wishing to speak at the hearing could email the town to reserve a spot. Speakers may also sign up before the hearing, but speakers will be heard in order of signing up. Commissioners discussed rules concerning the hearing, which are available from town staff.
Public comment was also held regarding a nuisance letter received by the town in February from Rick and Kellie Porter complaining of people not cleaning up after their dogs on an adjoining property and requesting an ordinance mandating dog owners clean up after their dogs.
Rick Porter spoke at the meeting and said an unoccupied lot adjoining his property was being used to walk four large dogs, two Labradors and two pit bulls.
“They have a mess back there,” said Porter.”It’s disgusting when it gets hot and humid. We can’t entertain on our deck.”
Porter added, “For the last five or six weeks, they have been doing what they need to do,” he said, indicating the dog walkers had started cleaning up after their dogs.
Sue Smith then addressed the board, saying she and her husband walk their dog there, but she only has one dog. “I have been doing what I need to do. If my husband and I did not take care of that property, it would be in terrible shape,” she said, explaining they mow and maintain the lot, even though they do not own it. “My neighbor feeds the deer. There are buzzards and foxes, and there is more deer poop than dog poop.”
After both sides had their say, Commissioner Evan Cockerham said, “We will open a whole can of worms if we start trying to regulate this.” He suggested the town place some of the clean-up bags that are provided downtown in the area.
Commissioner Gary Bell repeated several times that it was common courtesy to clean up after your dog. “It’s common courtesy. It’s neighbors.”
“This started with neighbors who didn’t like people feeding animals,” said Commissioner Kim Quinn, referencing an ordinance passed by the board in August.
“I think it’s a ridiculous request,” Quinn added. “For our police officers to be going out and measuring poop… I’m a no-go on the poop.”
None of the commissioners made a motion to amend the public nuisance ordinance to include dog poop.
The board amended the town budget to include expenses and revenue from three town-sponsored events coming up; a Main Street dinner, the farmer’s market and a food truck festival. Town manager Boaz said he expected revenue and expenditures to be a wash at worst and he expected revenue to be added.
In his manager’s report, Boaz said revenue was under expenses by $9,000. “But that gap is closing. I expect it to close by the end of the year.”
During commissioner’s closing comments, Commissioner Evan Cockerham said, “There are a lot of people here about the rezoning. Controversy is always difficult to deal with. I want y’all to pray for us.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.