Council Notes: Town pushes back growth task force presentation

kjahner@newsobserver.comOctober 28, 2013 

— Delay was the name of the game at the Oct. 22 council meeting, with a growth task force presentation, purchase of a house on Main Street, and discussion of insurance broker selection pushed back in one form or another.

The Town Council resolved to change the timing of the Parks and Recreation fee at its regular Oct. 22 meeting, pushing it back in the building process. Action on that resolution, and on other changes discussed by the Growth Strategies Task Force, will be pushed back a month.

The change has been one of the issues discussed in the series of meetings with local developers, business owners and town leaders. It met several times in the past two-plus months to provide a dialogue between town and the developing community and to ensure Garner’s continued growth.

The group had planned to present findings to the Town Council at the Oct. 31 work session. Town Manager Hardin Watkins said that would probably not happen until late November.

Developers want the Parks and Recreation fee on each house paid when each unit is built, rather than as a lump-sum up-front cost on the entire project. That would help cash flow for developers who face large up-front costs when building new neighborhoods. Garner officials have expressed amenability to that idea.

Town Manager Hardin Watkins said the staff intends to draw up new Parks and Rec fee schedules as well as water and sewer policies. Then staff will meet with private-sector contributors to see whether the new ideas address the previously discussed concerns before the staff goes to the council for possible action.

•  The agenda had included council authorization to purchase a house as part of downtown plans, but it was removed as the seller pulled back the day of the council meeting.

Bertron Haywood had agreed in principle to sell the property at 207 Main St. for $115,000. He withdrew the offer, according to Garner Revitalization Association Executive Director John Hodges.

Hodges said he did not know exactly why the seller balked, and Haywood did not respond to voicemails requesting comment.

“The seller decided at the last minute that they were going to withdraw the offer that was on the table,” Hodges said.

Hodges noted that the property does not sit on land intended for the planned recreation center on that block, so it would not delay that bond-funded project. It sits in the footprint of a proposed new Southeast Regional Library next to the three-gym recreation center, one that would have to be built by the county.

• Town staff met with some of the elected officials and intends to meet with others regarding the conflict over the staff’s choice for an insurance broker.

There was agreement to delay the item until Nov. 19, Watkins said at the council meeting.

Staff had chosen Hill, Chesson & Woody to handle insurance negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Council wanted a closer look at provider Jones Insurance, which placed a bid that was more expensive. Several council members advocated using local providers where possible.

The town has used Jones Insurance in the past before switching to current brokerage Independent Benefits Advisers.

• Garner’s town council passed a resolution on 540. Not that the council’s opposition on the Red Route remained unknown, but council members decided to make offficial their opposition to the proposed option for the new highway, which will connect Holly Springs and Knightdale, after passing around Garner.

The resolution puts the council on record as supporting the original Orange Route from Apex to I-40. The council has not taken a position on planning the section of 540 from I-40 to Knightdale.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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