Sparks fly at commissioners meeting

By Aila Boyd -

Ron Niland, owner of All American Associates, addresses the board of commissioners about greenway right of way acquisition efforts.

Tensions nearly came to a boil at the October Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners meeting on Oct. 10 when Ron Niland, owner of All American Associates, presented the board with an update on efforts made towards acquiring greenway right of ways for the town.

During his report, Niland stated that he wanted to be relieved of his duties pertaining to the greenway right of way effort. The reasons he cited included dissatisfaction by members of the board, time commitment, and frustration over not being further along with the project.

“The time necessary in obtaining stream rights of ways has been more than expected,” Niland said. “It’s a long, hard slog.”

According to Niland, thus far two of the owners of adjacent properties of the proposed greenway have signed rights of way forms, six property owners have agreed to sign the forms, seven owners have requested more information during property owner meetings, three owners have requested compensation, and three owners have not replied to either phone or mail contact.

“It’s been a great pleasure to serve and meet so many nice people in this community,” Niland said.

Despite Niland’s feelings about the progress of the project, every commissioner except for Kimberly Quinn voiced their satisfaction of the job that Niland has done so far.

“I think it’s a really bad idea for you not to be a part of this project,” Cordie Armstrong, commissioner, said. “I think you’ve done great.”

Armstrong explained that she would prefer if Niland would stay on and continue with the project due to the connections that he’s made with property owners and the possibility of confusion if another individual stepped in and took over control of the efforts.

“I’ve not seen these results that you’re saying in the letter,” Quinn said to Niland, referring to a letter that he submitted to the board which stated the accomplishments he’s made since being hired by the board.

“It sounds and looks to me like you guys have got a pretty good deal,” Niland said in response to Quinn’s comment.

Upon the request of multiple commissioners, Niland agreed to stay on in his consultant capacity until December, at which time the progress of the effort and his feelings about his arrangement with the town will be re-evaluated.

Thus far, the town has paid All American Associates $22,000 for services including the greenway project, grant funding, and the search for a new town manager, which concluded last month when then interim town manager Michael Boaz was appointed permanent town manager. All American Associates has held a contract with the town for 15 months as of this month.

While sparing with Niland, Quinn said that due to the fact that Boaz was already working for the town before the search even began, as well as the fact that Niland and Boaz had worked together before, she didn’t feel as though Niland had fulfilled the town manager aspect of the contract.

Quinn also stated that she thinks the town could “pull together” and collect all of the rights of way forms instead of using Niland’s services, to which he responded “if you think you can do it, go at it.”

In other action from the meeting:

• The Boy Scouts of America Troop 545 attended the meeting in order to fill a requirement of attending a government meeting in order to receive their citizenship badges. The troop lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the meeting.

• The owner of Stokes Wi-Fi, Todd Lankford, attended the meeting to provide further insight into the scope of the proposal that he made to the board at its September meeting.

The proposal would allow Stokes Wi-Fi to place an antenna on top of the town’s water tower in exchange for Wi-Fi service both at town hall and the town’s water plant, free downtown Wi-Fi, and the renovation of a shed that is located in the same lot that the water tower is.

Boaz said that the town pays $106 per month for Wi-Fi services at the town hall building, and $99 at the water plant.

Lankford explained that he would ideally like to start the installation process in February of 2017, noting that delayed action by the board would delay forward momentum of the project.

Quinn was the only commissioner to oppose the tentative approval of a contract between the town and Stokes Wi-Fi, explaining that she doesn’t feel comfortable voting on the mater since she had not reviewed the final contract.

Despite Quinn’s opposition, the motion to approve tentative approval passed and the signing of the contract will be dependent upon both the town manager’s and town attorney’s final review.

• The board of commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to the abandoned/junked motor vehicle ordinance.

According to Boaz, the newly passed ordinance is more within the state guidelines that govern abandoned/junked motor vehicles.

According to the new amendment an abandoned motor vehicle is one of the following:

– Has been left upon a street or highway in violation of a law or ordinance prohibiting parking

– Is left on property owned or operated by the town for longer than 24 hours

– Is left on private property without the consent of the owner, occupant, or lease thereof for longer than two hours

– Is left on any public street or highway for longer than seven days or is determined by law enforcement to be a hazard to the motoring public

According to the new amendment a junked motor vehicle is one of the following:

– Is partially dismantled or wrecked

– Cannot be self-propelled or moved in the manner in which it was originally intended

– Is more than five years old and worth less than $100

– Does not display a current license plate

The next board of commissioners meeting is scheduled for Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

Ron Niland, owner of All American Associates, addresses the board of commissioners about greenway right of way acquisition efforts. Niland, owner of All American Associates, addresses the board of commissioners about greenway right of way acquisition efforts.

By Aila Boyd

Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.

Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.

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