The next city council meeting will be on June 1 at 6:45pm. This meeting will once again be virtual, so if you are interested in participating in the public comment portion of the meeting, be sure to submit your comments to the city clerk so they can be read aloud at the meeting.
We have a very full agenda, but here are a few of the highlights:
-We will be receiving an update on the county’s response to COVID-19 from Gaston County Health and Human Services Director Chris Dobbins.
-We will also be conducting the public hearing on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
-There will be an update and a proposed change to the path of the Rail Trail due to some complications with that project.
-We will also be considering the closure of Jade Circle and Centerview Street in North Belmont to facilitate the development of the River West Business Park.-There will also be an update on the Belmont Trolley project, where we will consider a proposed Memorandum of Understanding.
-NCDOT is currently in the midst of a significant cash crunch and has stopped work on many projects and is also planning to significantly scale back maintenance of state roads. City Council will be considering a resolution asking NCDOT and the General Assembly to continue funding for the Powell Bill program (which funds maintenance of city-maintained streets) and to continue necessary maintenance of state roads (including things like patching pot holes and mowing grass along state roads).
You can find a copy of the meeting agenda and a link to the livestream here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=332
An update from our budget workshop/special meeting on Monday:
-We didn’t make any substantive changes to the budget proposal, so the next step will be the public hearing on June 1. This will be a virtual meeting, so if you would like to participate in the public comment portion of the hearing, be sure to send your comments to the city clerk so that they can be read aloud at the meeting. The legislature recently made some changes to how public hearings are to be conducted in a virtual setting, with the new rules allowing public comments to be submitted up to 24 hours after the virtual meeting is held. So, the final vote on the budget will be held on June 3.
-We also had a great discussion about the new “Al Fresco” outdoor dining program. This program is set to start on Friday to coincide with the new Phase II restrictions from the governor. The next two weekends will act as something of a pilot for the program, and Council is planning to review its progress at our June 1 meeting so that we can make changes as needed. So, if you decide to take advantage of this dining option, let me know what you think – what’s working well and what could work better. To my knowledge, the City has never attempted anything like this before, so it’s likely to be a learning process for everyone.
-We also received an update from the Montcross Chamber on their office space needs and how soon-to-be-vacant space at City Hall might fill that need. We gave the go-ahead to staff to begin working out the details of an actual contract with the Chamber, and that will come back to Council once they have something worked out.
The next budget workshop will be on Monday at 4pm. You can find the agenda and a link to the livestream here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=428
This will be the final workshop before the public hearing on the budget on June 1. It doesn’t sound like there have been any substantive changes to the budget proposal from what was presented in the initial workshop – but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
We will also be considering the creation of a Downtown “Al Fresco” Program. You may have seen other cities/towns (especially in other states) allow their restaurants the use of public streets for temporary seating as a way to enable the restaurants to reopen while also maintaining appropriate distancing. This would effectively be our version of that. We will learn more about the proposal on Monday, but the general idea is to allow downtown restaurants to set up tables on Main Street for the Friday and Saturday dinner hours (assuming that the governor proceeds with allowing outdoor dining next week). I think this is a great idea, and I am very interested in learning more about it.
We will also be hearing an update on the potential partnership between the City and the Montcross Chamber that would allow the Chamber to lease space in City Hall (for their offices) that will become vacant once the new public works building is complete.
We will also be reviewing a plan to construct a sidewalk from the new Belmont Middle School up to the current high school. The City, Gaston County Schools, and the developer of the McKee Farms retail project are building different sections of the sidewalk, and the project should greatly enhance the walkability of that area, which will be particularly important when the new middle school opens.
An update from this week’s City Council meeting and other goings-on:We will be having a special meeting on Monday, May 11 at 4pm to review our Stormwater Management Program. We will be reviewing the scope of the program (what it does and what it doesn’t do) and the Stormwater Capital Program for the next fiscal year. You can find the agenda and a link to listen to the livestream here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=441
From our regular meeting this week:
-We endorsed two grant applications (from the Carolina Thread Trail) for the Abbey Creek Greenway and Rocky Branch Park Enhancement Project
-We also formally adopted the Small Business Emergency Loan Program under the City’s statutory authority for economic development
-We also had a very productive conversation around the code enforcement issue on Cason Street in North Belmont. We decided on a final deadline for compliance of August 14 (which is one year from when the building was officially found to be non-compliant with our ordinance), whereby if the building is not brought into compliance by that date, our intent would be to adopt the demolition ordinance at our August 17 meeting that would allow for the removal of the building. The property owner had originally proposed a final finish date that was well into October. I believe that we have already been exceedingly generous with our handling of this situation, and I do not want to see this issue continue to linger into the fall. So, for me, the building either needs to become compliant or needs to be gone by August.
-As mentioned previously, as of today, all park facilities (except for bathrooms and playgrounds) are now open. Please be sure to continue to practice social distancing as you use the parks. You’ll see helpful reminders posted around the parks that will help you use the parks safely.
The next City Council meeting will be Monday (5/4) at 6:45pm. This will be another virtual meeting, so we will be following the same process that we used last month for public comment. If you’d like to make a public comment, you may email your comments to the city clerk, and they will be read aloud at the meeting. You can access the livestream at cityofbelmont.org/livemeetings
-We will be receiving an update on the Rocky Branch Park Enhancement Project
-We will also be considering several technical changes to our land use ordinance to make it consistent with recent changes in state law.
-There will also be a public hearing on the Small Business Emergency Loan Program. This is part of the formal ratification process for this program. It was initially established under the temporary authorities invoked by our local state of emergency, but this process will ratify the program under the economic developments statutes, which avoids some legal complications once the state of emergency ends. If you would like to submit a comment for this hearing, simply email it to the city clerk.
-We will also be receiving an update on the status of the code enforcement case for the property at 951 Cason Street in North Belmont
-We will also be considering a plan that involves the construction of bike lanes and sidewalks along Woodlawn Street as part of NCDOT’s next funding cycle.
The agenda for the meeting (along with all supporting information) can be found here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=331