UNION — Infrastructure improvements in the Foster Street area are at the top of the City of Union’s Priority Needs List.
Union City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the city’s new Priority Needs List which identifies and prioritizes the following 13 community needs:
1. Infrastructure improvements to the Monarch, Ottaray, and Buffalo Mill Village areas in cooperation with Union County and infrastructure improvements in the Foster Street area.
2. Continued revitalization efforts in the Union Mill Village.
3. Demolition of dilapidated houses in the City of Union.
4. Upgrade of sidewalk, water, sewer services, and drainage and street problems in the city.
5. Seek ways to conduct neighborhood improvements in the Carson Street and Cornwell Street neighborhoods.
6. Continue revitalization efforts in downtown Union such as streetscape, building renovation, and beautification projects.
7. Increase available affordable housing for low and moderate income, disabled, and elderly citizens.
8. Continue activities to support economic development in order to create jobs for low and moderate income persons.
9. Roadway safety improvements.
10. Improve and expand recreation, health care, and cultural facilities.
11. Construct parking and pedestrian improvement adjacent to planned events center in downtown.
12. Implement a gateway and beautification plan.
13. Promote fair housing oppportunities for all citizens.
Approval of the Priority Needs List is required before the city can apply for Communty Development Block Grant funds. The city is currently considering applying for funding to upgrade the sewer lines in the Foster Street area when the next round of CBDG funding gets under way in April. If the project is ranked in the top three of the Priority Needs List, the project will be more competitive for grant funding when reviewed by the CDBG staff at the SC Department of Commerce.
The Community Development Block Grant Small Cities Program is adminstered by SC Department of Commerce, Office of Grants Administration. The program will receive $17.3 million from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for 2016.
To qualify for CDBG funding, a project must:
• Benefit low and moderate income persons
• Eliminate slums and blight
• Address urgent community needs that pose a serious threat to the health or welfare of the community.
Three key goals of the CDBG program are to provide decent housing, economic opportunities, and suitable living environment. Each project must meet one of the following outcomes identified by HUD:
The primary CDBG programs are Community Development, Business Development, and Regional Planning. There will be $15.3 million allocated for Community Development programs including Community Infrastructure, Community Enrichment, Neighborhood Revitalization, Special Projects, and “Ready to Go.”
Eligible activities for Community Infrastructure are water, sewer, roads, and drainage projects.
In other business, council also voted unanimously to approve second and final reading of an ordinance amending the City of Union Zoning Ordinance to allow crematoriums within the city.
The ordinance authorizing the change was prepared by Robby Moody, Senior Planner for the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, in response to a request by Lewis Funeral Home.
In his presentation to council at its March meeting, Moody stated that the Zoning Code would be “clarified and strengthened to better address this type of operation.” Moody further stated that the “Table of Permitted Uses for Non-Residential Districts will be amended to provide accommodation for a crematorium in Non-Residential Districts.” He also stated that the definitions section of the code would be “amended to address crematorium and funeral home.”
Moody’s presentation, which was made prior to the first reading of the ordinance, included the definition of a mortuary as “an establishment providing services such as preparing the human dead for burial, arranging and managing funerals. This classification excludes cemeteries, crematoriums and columbariums.
The presentation also included the definition of a crematorium as “a facility containing properly installed, certified apparatus for use in the act of cremation of the human dead.”
Council also voted unanimously to approve a change order for 105 E. Main St., Union.
The city acquired the property in January in order to stabilize surrounding properties and incorporate the building into the adjacent Main Street Junction renovation project and new park space on N. Pinckney Street that are now under way.
The report to council describes the building as a single-story storefront with significant damage in the rear of the structure to the roof and floor system caused by water leaks. In accordance with city policy and best practices, a professional environmental firm performed tests to determine if any hazardous materials were present. The tests determined that asbestos was present in the roofing material and flooring tile and adhesive. It will cost an estimated $30,000 to demolition and remove the contaminated debris which will be put out to competitive bid.
The Main Street Junction Committee asked the Montgomery Company to prepare cost estimates to take into account the decision to demolish the building. The company came up with four of which council selected the fourth option which includes:
• Creating an open air seating area with the front facade demolished; pouring a concrete floor to match the on in Main Street Junction; install an Americans with Disabilities ramp; build one side access door; and relocate restrooms at the rear of Main Street Junction to allow for original deck width.
The estimated cost of this option is $157,642.
Council also voted unanimously to Co-Sponsor the 18th Annual Senior Citizen’s Expo in the amount of $300.
The Expo will be Thursday, May 26, at Tabernacle Baptist Church. It sponsored by WBCU and its co-sponsors as an annual honor for the community’s senior citizens. The event includes activities, entertainment, door prizes, give-a-ways, and lunch.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.