By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper
The workshop session at 6 p.m., prior to the October Town Board meeting set up agenda items for the November Town Board meeting.
Discussed was the need for a street light policy – where they should be erected, basically on town streets and where people walk. A policy is needed because where they have been erected on private roads in the past has caused dissent in neighborhoods.
Also discussed were two issues on which the Planning Board has been working.
The Planning Board’s proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance regarding string lighting has been finalized – basically only to be allowed over dining areas, not walkways or parking lots. It is proposed they also be commercial grade and hard wired so they can be turned off at closing time.
Michael Mathis, planning director, also introduced a commercial color chart suggested by the Planning Board. The colors are for main commercial business’s, base, trim and accent colors.
Mayor Pat Taylor brought up the need to discuss weekend work regulations regarding weed whackers and other noisy tools used by commercial entities on the weekend.
With winter approaching the mayor also suggested the town and its citizens be prepared for winter weather.
The hot topic discussed at the Town Board meeting that began at 7 p.m., was the NC 106 sidewalk.
Pictured at the top of the article is NC 106 looking towards Highlands. Dusty’s Rhodes Superette is at the bottom left of the frame. The sidewalk is planned for the far side of the highway.
Shelby Place homeowners said they didn’t want an elevated sidewalk running across their property. They were initially OK with the walk descending the embankment along the road to ascend and rejoin the walk further south, but they didn’t want to see the sidewalk, which would have been the case if elevated.
“Sometimes things just don’t work out and that’s the case here,” said Mayor Pat Taylor.
With the Shelby Place decision and after meeting again with DOT engineers, it was decided that running the sidewalk down the right side of NC 106 was the way to go. No crosswalk is proposed at this time.
The town has right-of-way easements down the road so the only obstacle will be the need to construct and back-fill a retaining wall in one area.
Commissioner John Dotson, who wanted the sidewalk to go down the left side of the road due to potential of future development said that should areas be developed, the developers would be responsible for a sidewalk.
“So, maybe this is the way we do want to go,” he said.
According to Town Manager Josh Ward an exact quote isn’t yet available for the construction of the sidewalk on the north side of Hwy 106.
But an early projection for the sidewalk on the south side – which has been nixed – was around $1.6 million.
“If awarded, the Carbon Reduction Grant would cover 80% of the construction cost,” said Ward.
Private donations are also in the mix.
Staff was instructed to move ahead with estimating the cost and applying for the grant.