7/15/2021 1:11:00 PM OAK RIDGE town council
July 1 / MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
WHAT they voted on, and HOW they voted:
Mayor Ann Schneider, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kinneman and council members George McClellan, Doug Nodine and Martha Pittman voted on the following items during the July 1 council meeting.
5-0: Adopt text amendments to the town's development ordinance, as mandated by a new state law
5-0: Pay Carolina Mulching Co. $35,000 to remove trees from Old Union Cemetery on East Harrell Road
5-0: Adopt a resolution setting a $5 filing fee for candidates running for two council seats in the Nov. 2 election
5-0: Approve a three-year lease of space in the Town Park maintenance building on Lisa Drive to the Oak Ridge Youth Association
5-0: Accept the financial report for June and the fiscal year ending June 30
5-0: Engage as a consultant Tom Roberts, of UNC-Chapel Hill's Environmental Finance Center, to assist with the town's deliberations on a proposed municipal water system
5-0: Increase Town Manager Bill Bruce's annual pay by 6%
as reported by CHRIS BURRITT
Mayor Ann Schneider called the monthly meeting in Oak Ridge Town Hall to order, with Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kinneman and council members George McClellan, Doug Nodine and Martha Pittman present.
Technical difficulties prevented the recording and livestreaming of the meeting on the town's YouTube page.
Ken Gordon, a member of Oak Ridge United Methodist Church and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, offered the invocation. It was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
The council voted 5-0 to approve the agenda after deciding to postpone discussion and possible approval of a contract with Envirolink, a contractor that has proposed operating a municipal water system for the town. Council members are still reviewing materials related to the contract, Schneider explained.
Oak Ridge Fire Department. Capt. Cole Wyatt reported Oak Ridge Fire Department responded to 58 calls in June, including two structure fires. Firefighters obtained about 1,040 hours of training.
Wyatt said the department is designing a training tower behind the fire station on Linville Road and wants to complete the facility by early next year.
Schneider thanked the fire department and other emergency workers for responding to the alcohol-related vehicle accident on Williard Road June 25 that claimed the lives of 19-year-olds Zach Williamson and Jeff Jones.
Sheriff's Office. A cumulative report for incidents the District 1 office responded to in Oak Ridge last month was not yet available..
Council voted 5 to 0 to adopt text amendments to the town's development ordinance; a new state law requires municipalities across North Carolina to adopt technical amendments to bring their development rules into compliance with statewide regulations. No one spoke for or against the amendment during a public hearing before the council's vote.
The amendments will not affect zoning of property in Oak Ridge.
Schneider thanked Planning Director Sean Taylor and Town Attorney Michael Thomas for preparing the amendments, along with Piedmont Triad Regional Council for its technical support.
Cemetery tree removal
Council voted 5 to 0 to pay Carolina Mulching Co. $35,000 to remove 32 pine trees, a dead oak and several other dead and dying trees from Old Union Cemetery on East Harrell Road.
To minimize possible damage to the cemetery grounds, the company will use a crane to remove the trees; it will also haul the trees away, according to its contract with the town.
The work "is very necessary," Pittman said after Town Manager Bill Bruce explained removing the trees will hopefully prevent the possibility of them falling on graves.
Election filing fee
Council voted 5 to 0 to adopt a resolution setting a $5 filing fee for candidates running for two council seats in the Nov. 2 election.
ORYA building lease
Council voted 5 to 0 to approve a three-year lease of about 2,000 square feet in the Town Park maintenance building on Lisa Drive to Oak Ridge Youth Association (ORYA).
The lease renews a 10-year-agreement that expired, according to Bruce. The new agreement allows ORYA to store equipment and supplies for its youth recreation programs in the building. The association will pay rent of $1 in each of the three years, starting this month.
Michelle Bardsley urged the community to support efforts by the Guilford County Teenage Republicans (TARS) to show appreciation to local law enforcement officers.
TARS is participating in the Back the Blue program this summer to donate gift cards, black shoe laces, hand sanitizer and other items to police officers for their service, according to Bardsley, who is advising the group. Back the Blue yard signs can be purchased via the group's Facebook page.
Council voted 5 to 0 to accept the financial report for June and the fiscal year ending June 30.
Finance Officer Sam Anders reported Oak Ridge had assets of $3.87 million, with liabilities of $56,589 and a fund balance of $3.82 million.
Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Co-chairs Bill Royal and Anne Steele reported volunteers worked June 16 to trim overgrowth and make other improvements on the Headwater Trail northwest of town.
Special Events. Chair Patti Dmuchowski reported the committee is creating a donation gauge for the town's website to show the growth of donations for the veterans' site planned for Heritage Farm Park.
The committee is starting to plan Light Up the Night festivities for Nov. 20, with a Dec. 4 rain date, Dmuchowski noted. No holiday parade is scheduled for this fall due to the committee's other commitments, such as planning for the veterans' site.
Historical Preservation Commission. Chair Debbie Shoenfeld reported that she, Vice Chair Caroline Ruch and Town Clerk Sandra Smith are putting together a book with photos and historical and cultural information about most of the historic properties in Oak Ridge.
Planning and Zoning Board. Chair Nancy Stoudemire reported the board conditionally approved the site plan for a Starbucks which is to be located on a vacant lot next to Quality Mart on N.C. 68.
Oak Ridge Elementary School. Principal Penny Loschin reported the school was nearing the end of a three-week-long summer session and a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) camp.
Schneider, Kinneman, McClellan and Pittman expressed condolences to families and friends of the two teenage victims of the fatal truck accident on Williard Road off N.C. 150 on June 25.
Kinneman said the tragedy confirms that drinking alcohol and driving "don't mix."
Pittman congratulated Nodine and other volunteers who renovated the historic Ai church at the corner of N.C. 68 and Alcorn Road.
"It is so simple and beautiful, along with the modern amenities," she said.
Schneider thanked the Northwest Observer for posting a video of the memorial service held at Town Park for the two teenagers who died as a result of the June 25 vehicle accident.
She also said she plans to run for reelection in the Nov. 2 election.
After recessing the regular meeting, the council went into closed session to discuss two items: the hiring of a municipal water system consultant and increasing Bruce's annual salary.
After reconvening, the council voted 5-0 to engage Tom Roberts, a senior business analyst for the Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, to assist the town with its deliberations on a proposed municipal water system.
Previously, Roberts was president and chief operating officer of Aqua North Carolina Inc., the operator of water and waste water systems in North Carolina. It operates community wells in northwestern Guilford County.
The council also voted unanimously to increase Bruce's annual pay by 6%, without providing details of his compensation. Council members praised the performance of Bruce, who thanked staff and contractors for their help.
With no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.