Playhouse paving to cost more

By Tom Joyce -
This file photo shows some of the patchwork done on the Andy Griffith Playhouse parking lot that is now eyed for a more permanent upgrade. -

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will tackle an array of topics during a meeting Thursday afternoon, including a playhouse parking project and public hearings related to a planned homeless facility and minimum housing regulations.

And while city officials are scheduled to consider a contract for long-awaited paving of the lot adjoining the Andy Griffith Playhouse during the 2 p.m. session, funding that work will cost more than originally planned — $45,000 compared to about $30,000.

The playhouse parking issue was discussed at the board’s last meeting on March 15, after having been placed on a back burner in the summer of 2016. Making wholesale repairs on the lot plagued by potholes and cracks was deemed a low priority at that time.

However, it came to the forefront again recently in conjunction with plans by the city to spend millions of dollars on a local expansion of the Barter Theatre. Sentiment was expressed during this debate indicating that the city government also should be concerned about existing municipal-owned facilities.

Local citizen and Barter supporter Gary Pruett voiced support for the parking lot improvements during a public forum at the March 15 meeting, saying the playhouse and surrounding grounds are among the first things visitors to town see. The parking lot serves the playhouse and the Andy Griffith Museum next door.

The commissioners subsequently voted unanimously on March 15 to seek contractor bids for the resurfacing.

Four companies submitted proposals, with the lowest of $37,202 coming from Carl Rose & Sons of Elkin. The highest bid was $55,614, from APAC-Atlantic Inc. in Winston-Salem.

The city public works staff also recommends including an option that would cover the extra cost of milling and removing all existing asphalt due to extensive cracking in the lot. This would be done before the repaving to keep the cracks from reflecting through to the surface in the future.

Approval of that option will raise Carl Rose & Sons’ low bid to $40,704, still beating out by $146 the next-lowest proposal for the base bid and option from Sowers Construction Co. of Mount Airy.

City staffers also are recommending that an approximate 10-percent contingency fund be added, for unforeseen problems, which would make the total set aside for the playhouse parking $45,000.

Two inches of S9.5B asphalt would be installed on the lot along with re-striping the facility. S9.5B is one of the most commonly used “superpave” mixes in North Carolina.

Awarding a contract to the Elkin company Thursday afternoon also will require the commissioners to amend the 2017-2018 city budget to provide the $45,000.

If approved, the work is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Homeless facility hearing

Also Thursday, the commissioners are expected to set a public hearing for later this month regarding property at 227 Rockford St. targeted for a new homeless facility.

It was announced last year that officials of the Shepherd’s House shelter on Rockford Street were eyeing an expansion at that location, behind the existing facility, to better meet a growing need among the homeless population.

They want to construct a 12-bed residential-care facility on a 1.1-acre site owned by nearby Haymore Memorial Baptist Church. It also would include office and educational space.

Before this can become reality, the city commissioners must rezone the property from its present R-6 (General Residential)/B2 CD (General Business-Conditional District) classification — which also is included within a local historic district — to R-4 CD (Residential and Office-Conditional District).

Conditional zoning typically refers to flexibility for the use of land in a way not otherwise permitted within a particular zone, which may be allowed as long as certain conditions are met.

In the case of the planned homeless facility, its use would be limited to residential care, shelter and halfway house functions, with any additional rooms or principal structures to require approval by the commissioners. Also, the new facility and site improvements must occur in accordance with a certificate of appropriateness approved by the city Historic Preservation Commission in November.

Citizens will get a chance to weigh in on the proposed rezoning during a city council meeting on April 19 at 7 p.m.

No one spoke in opposition to it at a March 26 meeting of the Mount Airy Planning Board, which voted 6-0 to recommend the move to the commissioners, who aren’t bound by that preliminary action.

Minimum housing

The setting of another public hearing will be considered by the board Thursday, also for its April 19 meeting, relating to a proposed major change in how Mount Airy regulates housing.

It involves the adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC).

The IPMC is a model set of guidelines embraced by other North Carolina cities which regulates minimum maintenance requirements for existing buildings.

Adopting it effectively would repeal the municipality’s present minimum-housing rules and other ordinances or parts of ordinances pertaining to that subject.

Bill Beamer, who serves as a part-time city codes enforcement officer, is recommending the change due to his contention that new and tougher regulations are needed to deal more effectively with rundown or dangerous structures in town.

Adopting the IPMC would strengthen and streamline the enforcement of minimum-housing and lot nuisance measures, Beamer has said.

Additional business

Among other agenda items Thursday afternoon, the city commissioners will:

• Discuss civil penalties for passing a stopped school bus, at the request of Commissioner Jon Cawley.

• Hear a presentation on ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) zoning by Planning Director Andy Goodall.

• Consider authorizing a grant contract for Ararat River stream restoration.

This file photo shows some of the patchwork done on the Andy Griffith Playhouse parking lot that is now eyed for a more permanent upgrade. file photo shows some of the patchwork done on the Andy Griffith Playhouse parking lot that is now eyed for a more permanent upgrade.
Contract award among items for meeting

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.