An update from our meeting on Monday:

The rezoning for the Smith Property was postponed to our April meeting, as the developer is still reworking their proposal.
The River West/Woodlawn Industrial Park rezoning was approved. This rezoning adds 19 acres to the original site and enlarges the total square footage of the buildings by 20,000 sft. The most significant aspect of this latest rezoning is that it provides for an 8-foot wide sidewalk along Woodlawn Street and 5-foot wide sidewalks along Acme and Cason Streets. The original rezoning approved in 2019 only provided for a 5-foot sidewalk along Woodlawn and no sidewalks along either Acme or Cason. So, this will be a significant improvement to the sidewalks in this part of town.

We also heard an update from Belmont Trolley. COVID has created some delays in their initial timeline, however design work for the barn is planned to begin over the summer. Once the design and various site surveys, etc. are finished, they are planning on having an estimate of the total cost by early Fall. They are also preparing to ramp up their (private) fundraising efforts over the next few months. Because the next 6-ish months will be very important for the viability of this project, they agreed to meet with us again this Fall once the design aspect of the project wraps up and their fundraising is fully under way. They have also invited the City to provide a staff member to sit as a member of their board to further ensure consistent communication between their board and the City.

Demolition ordinances were approved for 114 Morning Glory Ave and 325 Todd Street Ext. We already have bids in hand for the demolition work, so those structures should be coming down in the next few weeks.

Council also approved staff’s recommendation for the new solid waste services contract with Waste Pro. Waste Pro will retain trash, recycling, and bulk pickup. Yard Waste and Leaf Collection will be handled by our Public Works staff, and they are beginning the process of obtaining the necessary equipment to do that. Historically, Yard Waste and Leaf Collection have been the areas with the most complaints, so I think moving these services in-house is a great way to both save money and ensure consistent and high-quality service for our residents.

***Also tonight (at 6:30pm) is the community meeting for the proposed Del Webb Senior Community off Armstrong Ford Road. You can find more about this project as well as instructions for how to join the meeting (see the Community Meeting Notice) at this link: https://buff.ly/2P7qTFy. This project will likely be heard at the Planning Board’s March 18 meeting.

The next City Council meeting is Monday at 6pm at CityWorks. You can find a copy of the agenda and a link to the livestream here: https://buff.ly/37T6Ocr

It’s a very full agenda, but here are the highlights:

-First up is consideration of the rezoning for the Smith property that was held over from last month. The last I heard on this, the developer was requesting additional time to rework the project plan. So, it’s likely that this will get pushed to the April meeting.

-The River West Industrial Park in North Belmont is also coming back to Council to add 19 acres to their existing site plan. The new changes would add an additional 20,000 sf in building size to the existing 600,000 sf in the approved plan and make a few other smaller changes to a few of the buffers and driveway locations. In addition, one of the more positive aspects of this new plan would require 8-ft sidewalks along Woodlawn Street. When Council originally approved this rezoning in 2019, they allowed this project to cut that sidewalk width to 5 feet (as 8 feet was what was initially required in the Land Development Code). Given the amount of truck traffic that this project will attract, I think these wider sidewalks will do a lot to enhance pedestrian safety in this area. You can find full details of the project here: https://buff.ly/3aYt1I3

-We will also be receiving an update from Belmont Trolley on the status of their project. Belmont Trolley agreed to provide these updates in advance of the City releasing its promised five annual payments of $60k to support the project. This year would represent the second $60k payment.

-There are also two demolition ordinances on the agenda related to code-enforcement issues: 114 Morning Glory Ave and 325 Todd Street Ext.

-We will also be reviewing staff’s recommendation for a new five-year solid waste contract. The recommendation has Waste Pro continuing to handle trash, recycling, bulk waste, and portable restrooms as they do now. Yard waste and leaf collection would be handled internally by the City. The new cost per household per month for this new arrangement (which includes the costs associated with the City handling yard waste and leaves) would be $17.16, which is an increase from the current contract’s $13.58. Notably, the solid waste services fee (which you pay as part of your water bill) is $7 per household per month, and that is designed to cover 50% of the cost of our solid waste services (the rest is paid out of the General Fund, which is funded by property taxes). So, Council will need to make some decisions about how we want to fund the new contract as we work through the budget over the next few weeks. You can find more details about the cost, etc. here: https://buff.ly/37ShFDu

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!

We had a very productive meeting on Monday/Wednesday. Here are some of the highlights:

-We received an update from the county health director on COVID-19 response. Overall, we appear to be headed in the right direction, but he stressed the importance of basic safety precautions – washing your hands, avoiding large crowds, etc.

-We also had a very productive conversation around the Trolley project. I raised some concerns that I had about the project in light of the additional complications stemming from the COVID crisis. So, the Council talked through those, and we made some changes to the MOU that I think will better protect the city (and taxpayers) in the event that these complications become insurmountable. Belmont Trolley will also be making annual presentations to Council so that we can check-in on the project and review goals prior to making each annual support payment.

-We concluded the public hearing and passed the 2020-21 Budget on Wednesday. No additional changes were made to the budget, although we did receive some public comment.

-The ordinance closing Centerview Street and Jade Circle in North Belmont also passed. I asked the developer’s attorney about the timeline for the project (as I have received several questions about that), and he indicated that the actual demolition of the road would likely start by the end of the month.

-We also approved a change to the Rail Trail. The new route will now follow Main Street to Woodrow Ave, and then pick up the rail line again at the intersection with Woodrow. You can see a map here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/document/21705/3760D662CDE24927A7DFC67F59599AB5-.pdf?handle=7CF687D031104674966E2676C867F1DA

-We also approved resolutions supporting a virtual Juneteenth celebration and continued Powell Bill funding from the General Assembly.

-At the end of the meeting, our police chief also spoke to some of the national issues surrounding policing. I remain very confident in the professionalism, integrity, and training of the Belmont PD. I believe that our police department is one that all residents of our city can rightly be proud of.

If you have any questions – feel free to leave a comment below or email me at mseelinger@cityofbelmont.org!

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