Williamston approves 2016-17 budget, zoning changes

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No tax increase

By David Meade

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved first reading to officially adopt a zoning map, addressed several other zoning related matters, amended the sign ordinance and approved first reading on the 2016-17 budget.

Main Street/Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall updated council on activities of the economic development program including placement of wayfinding signs, promotion of community events, community engagement with a photo contest and recent completion of a Community Master Plan.

She presented Council with a list of projects and priority needs recently identified by the Envision Williamston Board.

Crandall said the organization is focusing on economic development and implementing the Walmart Capitalization Strategy for new and existing businesses as outlined in the Community Master Plan.

Crandall said the organization has 40 volunteer leaders participating in it.

Mayor Mack Durham said details of the Envision Williamston report and funding for projects will be discussed in the next council budget worksession.

Council unanimously approved first reading on a zoning map for the town. The map has been used for several years, however according to Town Attorney Lee Cole it was never formally adopted.

Councilman Rockey Burgess said it also needs to reflect recent changes including a zoning change voted on later in the meeting.

Council unanimously approved first reading on an amendment to the sign ordinance regarding temporary and portable signs and size restrictions on political signs.

A section prohibiting portable signs was completely taken out and replaced with guidelines allowing a portable sign with a temporary sign permit.

A line restricting the size of political signs to 16 square feet was also deleted. There was a line added stating the ordinance does not regulate the content of a sign or prohibit political content on properly permited temporary or permanent signs.

Council unanimously approved first reading on notice requirement for zoning amendments or to the zoning map. The requirements state that a public hearing must be advertised at least 15 days prior and a notice posted at property that is visible from the street.

Based on a recommendation of the town’s planning commission, Council unanimously approved a zoning change request on property between Glendale Avenue and Beaverdam Road.

The Beaverdam Road frontage portion of the property, 9.9 acres, is being rezoned from residential to Highway Commercial. The rear of the property along Glendale Ave is being split off to a 400 ft. x 300 ft. area which will remain residential on Glendale and provide a buffer from the commercial property.

With little discussion, council approved first reading on the 2016-17 budget, however the vote was not unanimous.

During the brief discussion Councilman Burgess clarified while there was some discussion about how to pay for services, there was no tax increase in the budget.

Councilman David Harvell was opposed in the 4-1 vote.

After the vote Councilman Otis Scott questioned a list of hospitality tax funding requests and then moved to reconsider the budget to allow him to change his vote. There was no second, so the motion died.

Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing a state mandated Indigent Defense Budget Proviso.

The provision requires municipalities pay to have indigent representation for municipal courts even though the service is already being funded on the state and county level.

Council then went into an executive session to discuss a contractural matter concerning public utilities.

There was no action or discussion by Council on any issue when they returned to regular session.

Before adjourning, Councilman David Harvell asked about a sign recognizing Dale Martin ballfields. The mayor said the sign will be put up.