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BYH to Greenville motorists. I checked the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence neither refer to an...

Council opens city-owned property for bidding

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Shannon Keith

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Greenville City Council decided against approving a property exchange with a local developer that would give the city a potential site for a commercial or office development.

The council declined to vote on a resolution approving the exchange of a city-owned parcel for a property owned by Taft-Ward Investments LLC during its meeting Monday night. 

The city is interested in acquiring the 0.07 acre property at 1125 W. Fifth St. because it is between two parcels already owned by the city. If Greenville acquired the property, the city would have three lots totaling 0.33 acres, which could be used for future development.

In exchange for the West Fifth Street property, Taft-Ward Investments would have received a 0.04 acre property on East Eighth Street between Evans and Forbes streets. Staff said Taft-Ward is interested in acquiring the property for a future development project. The Eighth Street property has a listed value of $14,400, and the West Fifth Street property has a listed value of $3,290. In addition to the property exchange, Taft-Ward would have paid the city $11,710.

District 5 Councilman P.J. Connelly said he was concerned that the public was not offered the opportunity to bid on the city-owned property before the exchange was presented to council.

“This is taxpayer-owned property,” Connelly said. “In the interest of transparency, we owe it to the taxpayers to offer this property for purchase.”

City staff told council that, under current statutes, the city has several options when selling city-owned property. One option would be the competitive method, which would give any interested parties an opportunity to bid. Another option is a property exchange, like the proposed deal with Taft-Ward.

Council voted unanimously to agree to open the city-owned property for bidding.

Also during Monday’s meeting, council heard a proposal from the Greenville Police Department about implementing a Red Light Camera Enforcement Program in the city.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said the program will target five intersections in the city — Charles Boulevard and Fire Tower Road, South Charles Boulevard and East 14th Street, Greenville and Arlington boulevards, Memorial Drive and Arlington Boulevard, and Arlington Boulevard and Fire Tower Road — that have the highest number of collisions.

The city would lease cameras that are activated if a vehicle is in the intersection after the light turns red. The camera will provide video and still pictures of the vehicles, which officers will then review to determine if a traffic violation occurred.

“We could look at the footage and see if the vehicle ran through the red light or was stuck in the intersection due to traffic,” Holtzman said.

A civil citation then would be sent to the owner of the vehicle, which would be different than a standard traffic citation.

“We can’t determine who is driving the vehicle, so the citation is issued to the owner,” Holtzman said. “These citations would not result in points on someone’s license or insurance.”

Holtzman said that the program frees up officers that have to be assigned to the intersections and makes it safer for police to issue citations to drivers that run red lights in the city.

“When someone runs a red light, an officer has to go through that red light in order to conduct a traffic stop,” Holtzman said. “This initiative makes it safer and frees up resources.”

Holtzman said that money collected from the citations will offset the cost of leasing the cameras. In addition, any funds collected from the fines will be given to Pitt County Schools.

“This is a self-sustaining program,” Holtzman said. ”It doesn’t require taxpayer funding and actually has the potential to generate funds for our local schools.”

Council members said they would hold further discussions about the possible implementation of the program during a later meeting.  

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council:

*Approved a five-year lease agreement with the Zimmer Development Co. for a property at 728 S.W. Greenville Blvd. The Greenville Police Department will use the property for the South Zone Police Substation, the third substation to be established in the city. The police department opened the West Zone Substation at 1024 W. Fifth St. in 2007 and the East Zone Substation at 3095 E. 10th St. in 2015.

The lease agreement will be $500 a month for five years. The construction cost to get the space ready for use and the money for the lease will be taken from the police department’s operations budget and will not require additional funds from the city. 

*Approved funding for the Greenville Youth@Work summer program, which partners the city with the Region Q Youth@Work program to provide work experience to youth who reside in Greenville and meet certain financial requirements. The program will give 25 participants the opportunity to work up to 25 hours a week for approximately seven weeks this summer, earning up to $1,269. The participants will work at various city departments. The cost to operate the program this summer will be approximately $27,400.

*Approved authorization for the Greenville Fire-Rescue Department to submit a grant application to the Department of Homeland Security to create four new positions that would staff an emergency response unit in the southeast section of the city.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday on the third floor of City Hall, 200 W. Fifth St. The meeting is open to the public and will include a public comment period.

 

Contact Shannon Keith at skeith@reflector.com or at 252-329-9579.

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