City, state agree on interchanges

Statesville's City Council has unanimously agreed to take over landscaping maintenance at two key interchanges of Interstate 40 from the state.

In return, the state will pay for a one-time $300,000 planting program.

The agreement applies to interchanges at Exit 150 on N.C. 115 and Exit 148 on N.C. 90.

The city will mow and maintain the approximately 8 acres using part-time workers, City Manager Rob Hites said.

"This arrangement permits the city to take advantage of planting grants and keep the interchanges at a higher level of maintenance than the normal DOT mowing schedule," Hites said.

Hites said he expected the state to do the planting in late November or December and the city to begin mowing the areas late next April.

The interchanges will be landscaped in two different formats: The N.C. 115 interchange will be designed as a "gateway to the city" while the N.C. 90 interchange will contain more trees.

"The city's appearance commission had requested for several years that the state and city improve the appearance of these two intersections, and this agreement should accomplish that objective," Hites said.

In other action, the City Council:

Set Monday as the date for a public hearing on an installment financing agreement for downtown streetscape improvements and the rehabilitation of the City Hall.

According to Finance Director Lisa Salmon, the city has received $7million in Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds for the projects. The city is considering financing the improvements through an installment agreement.

"We plan to seek (N.C.) Local Government Commission approval of the financing at their Dec. 7 meeting, but the city is required to hold a public hearing on the installment financing agreement first," Salmon said.

Authorized establishing a 25 mph school zone on East Elementary Drive, near the entrance to the school. According to Statesville police Capt. Mike Watts, the Iredell-Statesville Schools and local residents had requested the lower speed limit between Old Farm Road and the dead end of East Elementary Drive.

The new speed limit will be in effect on school days between 7-8 a.m. and 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Unanimously approved condemnation of a private home at 1707 Forest Drive. City officials said the owner of the home had done a significant amount of work to clean it inside but that the dwelling, which at one time housed a pig, still represented a hazard.

Under city law, the owner has 30 days to appeal the decision, after which the house will be demolished.