Voters lay out their agenda

ajames@newsobserver.comOctober 21, 2013 

— Alsey Gilbert isn’t running for a seat on the town council here; in fact, he’s happy with the current leadership.

But Gilbert, who owns a land-surveying firm in Clayton, knows what he’d do if elected to the council: He would do a better job of informing the public about proposed changes to Clayton ordinances.

Earlier this year, Gilbert attended several town council meetings while working with a developer who wanted to build a subdivision within the town’s planning jurisdiction. During that process, Gilbert said, the council changed an ordinance, preventing the developer from building as densely as he wanted.

“When they change the rules, there should be a process alerting the public,” Gilbert said.

Recently, the News-Star asked Gilbert and several others what they would do if they suddenly found themselves on the town council.

Margaret Lee, president of the Clayton Woman’s Club and a resident of Riverwood, said she has been pleased with the current council. “I really like the way our town council has allowed Clayton to grow,” she said.

Lee feels the town council has been supportive of people coming forward and sharing their vision for the town. She commended its support of making Clayton more of an arts community, approving projects like the sculpture trail.

One thing Lee would do if elected would be to change the town limits. “It seems like Riverwood Athletic Club and Glen Laurel pay the majority of taxes for the town,” Lee said.

Lee noted that when she drives from Main Street to Riverwood, she passes in and out of the town limits several times. Those people enjoy the advantages of living near Clayton but don’t pay taxes.

“We’re losing a lot of revenue,” Lee said.

Business owners speak

Denetra Jackson, owner of Patty Cake Bakery on Main Street, said she would make Clayton more business-friendly. “I’d make it easier for someone’s business to grow and flourish,” she said.

Jackson, who opened her cupcake shop earlier this year, said town hall should supply new businesses with information packets filled with the rules for doing business in Clayton. “There are a lot of things I’m learning just by trial and error,” she said.

Jackson would also increase parking on Main Street. “At lunchtime people can’t get to my store because they’re packing the streets to eat at Jones Lunch,” she said.

Patricia Tredway and her husband recently opened Sugar Rose Boutique on Main Street. Like Jackson, Tredway would give more attention to Clayton’s small businesses.

“I’d want to promote more of the downtown businesses on East Main Street,” she said. During street festivals, Tredway said, not all Main Street businesses get the same exposure.

“I’d also bring more events to town, like an art walk, to bring people out and support local businesses,” Tredway said.

She and Jackson both complained that Clayton’s restrictive sign rules prevent them from adequately promoting their stores.

Tredway said she would also give voting rights to people who live outside of town but own businesses in Clayton. “If you had a business in town, why not be able to vote in town?” she said.

Kelly Sari lives just outside of town but attended a recent forum for town council candidates. She would make town government more transparent. “I would disclose all of the financial records,” she said.

Sari lives on Ryans Lane, where some of her neighbors have been asked to grant easements for a sewer line that will connect Clayton to Raleigh. She fears the project will affect property values in her neighborhood, and if on the council, she would allow people outside of town limits to vote in Clayton elections.

James: 919-553-7234

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