Traffic, Development Concerns is Focus at Manager’s Town Hall

Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, along with several town officials, held a “Town Hall Session” at the Senior Center on Tuesday, June 18, with about 15 residents attending, asking questions mostly related to development and traffic. This was the first meeting in a series Malaguti intends to hold over the year.
Malaguti started the meeting by expressing his reasoning for holding the session, saying that with all the talk recently taking place at Town Council meetings on public input, the public comment section during those meetings isn’t structured for a back-and-forth dialog between residents and town officials.
He added that he felt the town budget was in good shape as far as the fund balance is concerned, thought that the traffic issues in the north-end village area has been addressed, the town is taking steps to update the Master Plan and felt more meetings are being recorded currently.
He also talked briefly about the water issues in town concerning water infrastructure.
On the subject of the Master Plan, resident, Deb Paul, suggested that along with the plan, an Implementation Committee needs to be put together, in order to act on some of the idea brought forward, adding that the previous plan has not really been acted on.
Malaguti agreed, saying that a Master Plan is meaningless if nothing is done with it.
He added that town staff could do a better job at communicating with each other as the community continues to grow.
On the subject of traffic, both in the area of the Senior Center and on the lower part of Gilcreast Road, residents raised concerns about all the new construction currently underway. Feeling that traffic studies were inaccurate, with things not being including.
Malaguti agreed that traffic has been a big concern in town, he felt the pace of development in town is moving very quickly and the town infrastructure will not be able to sustain its growth. With that, he went back to the importance of working on the Master Plan and having planning and zoning restriction put in place and followed.
He encouraged residents with concerns on development and traffic to get involved in the master Plan Committee meetings.
One resident noted that currently, no matter how many people go to meetings and speak against plans, inevitably those concerns are listened to. She thought that impact fees would be a good way to ensure developments could pay back to the community.
Malaguti responded that the town used to charge impact fees, but were done away with because they weren’t being implemented correctly. He added that fees could be generated in other ways, such as off-site improvements or as an exaction from the developer.
That discussion led into putting a Growth Management Ordinance back in place, which would help stop overdevelopment in town.
Malaguti felt that is something easier said than done and it would have to address a very specific localized problem.
Resident, Richard Bielinski, addressed his concerns with one of the new Gilcreast Road housing projects near Home Depot, saying the land should have never been developed.
He stated, “Those didn’t have to be developed. If the town hadn’t sold the development rights, those wouldn’t be going in. So the town is causing the problem.”
He said the reason for selling the land was to help pay back the $16.5 million deficit that was needed to pay back the power plant after the town lost on a tax abatement with Granite Ridge.
Malaguti agreed that the town was responsible for the development going in there, but added that it is an unsightly overgrown piece of property that was just sitting there, being under utilized.
He also added that the residents voted on the decision through a warrant article.
The vision to put a water main along High Range Road was also briefly discussed with the Town Manager stating the loan for the town’s portion of the project was recently processed and approved.
The next Town Hall Session is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, from 6:30 top 8:30 p.m.

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