Pilot board addresses animals, grants

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com
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PILOT MOUNTAIN — Town commissioners again addressed the issue of animals and animal-related nuisances at their August board meeting on Monday night, but without the drama and angst that accompanied that issue last year.

The proposed ordinance change did nothing to change the definition of nuisances or what is and isn’t allowed, but only affected enforcement. The ordinance is used by the town police in the case of dogs or cats running at large, as well as barking dogs.

Previously, the rules required a complicated procedure involving a hearing with the town manager before the ordinance could be enforced. The amendment would require the animal owner abate or correct the problem immediately or be subject to a civil penalty of $100.

Commissioner Gary Bell asked if enforcement was complaint-driven.

“Yes, and if we see an animal wandering around town,” said Town Manager Michael Boaz.

Bell replied, “Some animal owners let their pets roam a little more freely than they should. It has been an issue.”

“I think what we all want to see is people being responsible for their pets so that they receive proper care and … that they do not get killed in traffic,” said Commissioner Evan Cockerham.

Commissioners Bell, Cockerham and Kim Quinn voted unanimously to approve the change. Commissioner Linda Needham was not present.

• Next, the board made some changes to a facade grant program that has been in place for several years to make it more widely-used.

“I think it’s been used by two people in the last five years,” said Boaz. Both of those were in the last 90 days.

The grants, designed to encourage business and property owners to make improvements to their buildings, will be available to any business in Pilot Mountain, with preference given to the downtown area. Each grant is a 50/50 match with a maximum of $1,000 to each grantee. The town would award up to $1,000 in each of the first three quarters of the fiscal year, and give away any remaining funds in the fourth quarter.

Commissioner Cockerham asked if any change had been made to make the permitting process less of a barrier, a concern he voiced at a July workshop where the grant program was discussed.

It had not, but Boaz said, “Hopefully, that’s going to change in 60 days.”

• Proposed revamping of the town’s zoning regulations that is nearing completion would no longer require a conditional use permit in the downtown overlay district which costs $550 and replace it with a regular zoning permit that only costs $25.

A proposed new downtown revitalization grant was passed. The program allows downtown property owners to get a cash grant, for five years, that is based on the increased property tax paid by the building owner following building improvements. The owner would be eligible for 100 percent of the new tax in years one and two, 75 percent in year three, 50 percent in year four, and 25 percent in year five.”

• A motion to establish a capital project for the proposed streetscape plan failed to find favor with the board with Commissioner Cockerham voting for the motion, and Commissioners Bell and Quinn voting to table the motion.

The motion would have established an account in which to place the $50,000 to be received from an NC Department of Commerce grant that the board earmarked for streetscape engineering at the July workshop.

“It seems like we’re going out of order,” said Quinn, at the prospect of setting up a capital account for a plan that has not been formally approved by the board.

“We have to tell the state what we plan to do with the money,” said Boaz. “In a perfect world, we’d do exactly what you said.”

Following some discussion on the status of the streetscape plans and the board tabling the motion, Mayor Dwight Atkins said, “This is not to construe that our intentions have changed.”

• In final comments, Mayor Atkins said, “the Night Out was great.”

Commissioner Cockerham agreed the Night Out was a success, and commended the Town Manager for getting the flood insurance plan going.

Commissioner Quinn said she also appreciated the Night Out. “It’s always fun to dunk the police officers,” she said.

Commissioner Bell said he also thought the Night Out was great and would like for it to become a monthly event.

To which Police Chief Darryl Bottoms replied, “If somebody furnishes the steaks, I’ll bring the grill.”

Bell also said he is seeing a lot of pedestrian traffic and urged everyone driving a vehicle to be aware of pedestrians.

“The speed limits are not working,” he said.

Bottoms said there has been no pedestrian incidents this year.

• Quinn inquired about the Lola Lane sewer project and was told it was completed.

“They were done and out in three days,” said Boaz. “The pipes are wrapped in ductile steel. It would take an Abrams tank to break them.”

Town attorney Ed Woltz reminded the board, “It’s a temporary repair.”

“The long-term solution is to move them,” said Boaz.

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By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.