The town board of commissioners unanimously approved a minimum water billing ordinance which will allow customers to disconnect their water service for a period of time without having to close their account and pay another deposit when they decide that they need the service again.
The ordinance was mainly pursued to benefit water customers who are either out of town for extended periods of time or farmers who use irrigation meters.
At the board’s August meeting, the commissioners directed town staff to alter certain aspects of the proposed ordinance, specifically urging for the addition of a timetable for the disconnection of services.
The ordinance will allow customers to pay a one-time $20 fee, which will cover the town’s cost of turning the service on and off, and will allow customers to disconnect their water service for a period 60 to 180 days.
The ordinance limits the disconnection option to once per 12-month period of time.
The disconnection option allows customers to avoid having to pay the minimum monthly fee of $28, which simply allows the service to remain active, but does not include any actual use of the service.
Michael Boaz, town manager, recommended that the board approve the ordinance as is.
No go on Wi-Fi
The board of commissioners decided not to move forward with an offer from a wireless Internet company.
Having been approached by Stokes Wi-Fi, a King-based wireless broadband provider, the board of commissioners discussed the possibility of the placement of an antenna on the town’s water tank that sits on School Street.
Stokes Wi-Fi claims that the placement of an antenna would allow Pilot Mountain customers the option of high speed Wi-Fi via a wireless connection.
In return for the placement of the antenna atop the water tower, Stokes Wi-Fi offered to rebuild what has been described as the dilapidated shed on the property, provide Wi-Fi service to the town, and free Wi-Fi for downtown during special events.
Boaz didn’t offer any recommendations, although he noted that the town has been approached by another company with a similar request, but added that his conversations with the other company have not progressed as far along as his conversations with Stokes Wi-Fi have.
“I’d like to hear their offer first,” Gary Bell, commissioner, said of the other company’s interest in pursing the same option.
Bell later raised the question as to whether or not the internet that Stokes Wi-Fi is offering for the town hall location would be as fast as the current connection that Surry Telephone offers. Boaz replied that he wouldn’t have entertained the offer if an equal speed hadn’t been offered.
Commissioner Kimberly Quinn proposed the option of renting the space on the water tower to the company instead of receiving the services that Stokes Wi-Fi had offered.
“This is their first offer so that’s a viable option,” Boaz said.
Dwight Atkins, mayor, instructed Boaz to notify both Stokes Wi-Fi and the other company that there’s competition for the antenna placement and allow them to go from there.
Boaz explained that Stokes Wi-Fi is also in discussions with the city of King for a similar partnership.
No parking ordinance
At the request of First United Methodist Church, the board of commissioners unanimously voted to enact a no-parking ordinance on the north side of West Marion Street which connects Key Street and South Stephens Street.
“No parking” signs will be placed along the portion of the street that faces the back side of CVS.
Boaz explained that the request was made due to the fact that when the town has festivals or events, cars are generally parked on both sides of the street, which essentially makes the street into a one-way street due to its narrow nature.
All American Associates Contract
The board shot down a request by All American Associates to bump a monthly consultant fee the town pays to the company up to $1,500, from the current $1,100.
“Absolutely not,” Quinn replied to the request.
All American Associates is based in Mount Airy and is owned by Ron Niland. The contract between the town and the company began on July 1, 2016 and is set to end on June 30, 2016.
According to the contract, the town receives grant writing and grant management services, help in acquiring greenway rights of way, meetings with the Depot Street Greenway Taskforce, development of the greenway master plan, assistance applying for North Carolina state trail grants and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants to help fund the greenway, and other projects as directed by the town’s management.
“We’re not moving on that, so we’re just going to let that lie,” Atkins said of the request.
Density issues in zoning ordinance
The board of commissioners directed Boaz, with a unanimous vote, to prepare a zoning ordinance to address density concerns which would limit construction to six units per acre. In doing so, the board also scheduled a public hearing on the matter on Oct. 10.
The density zoning ordinance concern stems from the fact that with the town’s current zoning ordinance, a development could be constructed with up to 100 units per 3-acre parcel. Boaz explained that the 100-unit figure would likely be impossible to construct due to height, parking, and landscaping requirements, however the possibility still remains.
Limitations on density is primarily a concern due to the negative impact that such heavy usage of services would have on the town’s infrastructure.
Following the board’s August meeting, Boaz contacted management for both Mount Pleasant and Mount Airy in regards to the density limitations the two municipalities have in place.
Mount Pleasant allows for up to 8 units per acre, however Mount Airy allows for up to 12 units per acre.
Boaz recommended going with the more conservative figure of eight units per acre.
The next board of commissioners meeting is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.