North Wilkesboro Town Manager Wilson Hooper updated the commissioners on some current projects during the board’s Feb. 2 meeting, held remotely via Zoom.

Hooper said “dirt should be turning” in the first two weeks of March for a 500,000-gallon water storage tower tank to be built in the town-owned Wilkes Industrial Park on River Road-Liberty Grove Road.

The town approved a $2.26 million bid in November submitted by Avon, Ind.-based Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC. Phoenix is expected to start construction of the multicolumn, 140-foot-tall tower this month and finish the project in the spring of 2022.

The town’s contribution to the project is expected to be $1.48 million, paid back over several decades with water/sewer collections. Two economic development grants make up the rest of the funding: a $580,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the N.C. Department of Commerce and $200,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The CDBG funding was awarded to help Charlotte-based JELD-WEN Inc. undertake an $8 million expansion of its door-skin (exterior facing) manufacturing operation in the industrial park and add at least 29 jobs.

The water tank is designed provide better water pressure for fire safety sprinkler systems at JELD-WEN and elsewhere in the industrial park and improve hydraulics of the town water system from River Road-Liberty Grove Road to N.C. 268 East. That area is currently served by an elevated storage tank and 12-inch water main off Flint Hill Road.

Hooper also said that upgrades to the town’s raw water treatment plant on I Street near the Reddies River should be completed by the summer of 2023. A draft preliminary engineering report by Charlotte-based Kimley-Horn Inc. is expected to be approved by the state by May 1.

He said that after state approval is received, Kimley-Horn will formulate details needed to put the project out for bids over the next nine to 12 months. The bidding process is expected to begin in the summer of 2022.

The project involves the installation of an Actiflo filtration system and an increase in treatment capacity from the current 4.32 million gallons per day (MGD) to 6 MGD.

About 800 linear feet of raw water line running from the intake on the Reddies up to the plant itself will be replaced, as will some of the aged electronics at the plant, Hooper added.

Hooper said an outdoor economy task force, comprised of Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and Health Foundation officials, will soon launch a website that touts the county’s recreational amenities.

Zoning code update

Work started by the North Wilkesboro Planning Department in 2019 on updating the town’s zoning code is winding down, according to Meredith Detsch, the town’s director of planning.

The town was required to update its zoning code and supporting town codes after the N.C. General Assembly updated statute 160D in 2019, which consolidated the state’s land use rules into a single chapter.

Municipalities were charged with updating their own zoning ordinances and town codes to incorporate those changes by July 1.

The town’s planning department has worked with the town’s planning board and the Boone-based High Country Council of Governments since 2019 to clean up and revise all 11 articles of the town’s zoning ordinance.

The articles deal with code topics that include general provisions, administration, buildings, subdivisions, zoning and wireless communications.

The commissioners have scheduled work sessions on Feb. 25, March 25 and April 22 to review the revised chapters of the ordinance. Public hearings are expected to be called for on May 4, May 27 and June 8, with June 24 being the latest potential date for a public hearing.

Detsch said High Country’s Kelly Coffey, who served as the town’s interim planning director before Detsch started work in July 2019, and Phil Trew from High Country assisted her.

FEMA grants

Also on Feb. 2, the board approved a resolution allowing the town’s fire department to apply for two Federal Emergency Management Agency grants: a $100,000 grant to replace a turn-out/bunker gear and a $1 million grant to replace the department’s 1985 aerial truck.

Hooper said the aerial truck grant is capped at $1 million, and the cost of a typical aerial truck is $1.25-$1.4 million, so the town would likely contribute between $250,000 and $400,000 toward the cost of the truck.

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