City Council hears plans for Hardee Road and Lenoir Avenue repairs
Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick (far left), Kinston Mayor Don Hardy (far right) and members of the Kinston City Council recognized employees from the Street Repair division of the Department of Public Services during Public Service Recognition Week at the latest City Council meeting. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News
The Kinston City Council met Monday night to discuss several items, including receiving updates on street repairs in the city. It also considered ordinances relating to food trucks and golf carts operating inside the city limits.
Assistant Public Services Director Steve Miller updated the Council on the department’s plans for the ongoing repairs to Hardee Road and Lenoir Avenue. Exactly $50,000 was budgeted for reconstruction on Hardee Road this year, but Miller explained staffing shortages within the street repair department had led to unused salary funds, as well as an unused portion of the normal street repair budget that could be shifted toward repairs for Hardee Road and Lenoir Avenue.
Miller said the total cost for the planned repairs — two blocks of Hardee Road from Essex Street to Oxford Road and three blocks of Lenoir Avenue from Herritage Street to Independence Street — was approximately $204,000. Miller said the amount of funding for the project totaled $192,000, but the repairs would run into the next fiscal year, so the shortfall could be addressed in the next year’s budget.
The Council discussed the plan and the justifications for spending such a large portion of the city’s street repair budget on Hardee Road. The Council will take action on the plan at its work session later in the month.
City Planning Director Adam Short apprised the council the planning department has been contacted about food trucks operating in the downtown area of the city. No new ordinances were under consideration Monday night, but Short said he wanted to get a sense of the council’s feelings on the issue, and go over the current regulations.
Currently, food trucks must get a zoning permit to operate in the city, and their location cannot be within 100 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant. If they use public parking, they cannot impede the flow of traffic.
Short said some of the concerns that had been brought to his office included food trucks partially obstructing traffic flow, especially on Herritage Street, the impact the trucks have on established restaurants and the fact not all food trucks that operate in the city apply for and receive the required zoning permit. Mayor Don Hardy raised the possibility of having a designated area for food trucks to occupy downtown, but nothing was decided, with the Council advising Short to review food truck ordinances in place in neighboring cities to see how they deal with the issue.
The Council also held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to consider the use of golf carts on city streets.
Mother Earth Motor Lodge General Manager Stephanie Ormond approached the city about developing an ordinance to allow golf carts to operate downtown. She worked with the Planning Department and the Police Department to develop an ordinance that would allow golf carts to operate on streets with a speed limit of 30 mph or less.
To be allowed to operate, golf carts would have to be registered with and inspected by the KPD, and operators would be required to sign a liability waiver and carry liability insurance. Final approval of the ordinance was tabled to the council’s next meeting, but the council hopes to have it approved and in place by summer.
Other actions at the meeting included approval to advertise for upset bids for an offer to purchase city property on Lenoir Ave., approval of changes to definitions in zoning regulations, approval of a permit for the Lincoln City Family Reunion, acknowledgement of Public Service Employees Recognition Week and a proclamation of Tuesday, May 7 as College Signing Day in Kinston.
Soundbites on the Public Sector Unions Bill:
Councilman Sammy Aiken on the mayor’s support for public sector employee unions: “I would prefer unions, but with NC being a right to work state, it would be kinda hard to push that in this city. Unions in the past, have worked, but in a way they elevated the rates so high, that it made it hard for businesses to keep up.”
Aiken also said that Kinston’s smaller tax base makes it hard to match the salaries being offered by cities like Greenville and Jacksonville.
Councilwoman Kristal Suggs: “The mayor’s visit [to Raleigh] was him networking and doing what he needs to do as mayor. We haven’t discussed it as a council. “