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April 21, 2021

Have an opinion on the potential Fibrant lease? Now’s your chance to voice it.

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City Manager Lane Bailey said Friday that a lease agreement between Fibrant and Hotwire Communications could be finalized this week.

At Tuesday’s Salisbury City Council meeting, the council will hold a public comment period to give residents a chance to say how they feel about it.

Although few definitive details have been released about the lease so far, Bailey said he thinks citizens will be “pleased” with the agreement.

“I think we’ve found a partner who can keep that (Fibrant) speed and reduce our costs,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the initial 20-year lease would have Hotwire paying the city a percentage of the gross revenue generated from the broadband service.

Bailey said the percentage amount could not be released until the agreement is finalized.

He said Hotwire would also be responsible for paying maintenance, operating and capital improvement expenses for the broadband service.

Bailey said the city allowed the public comment period to happen before the details of the lease were finalized because of the “short window” between now and the May 8 referendum.

State law requires that if a deal is reached, the public must vote in a referendum to approve the lease agreement.

“It either had to be in May or November, and we wanted to do it in May,” Bailey said.

Bailey said a representative from CTC Technology and Energy and representatives from Hotwire Communications would give presentations before the public comment period Tuesday.

He said the CTC representative would talk about how the city had gotten to this point and the Hotwire Communications representatives would talk about “how they view the lease and what they hope to do in the community.”

Bailey said the public comment period would not be the last chance citizens would have to learn more about — and voice their opinion on — the lease. He said there would be a series of public meetings in “various places” around the city before the referendum.

Bailey said the council would vote on the lease agreement in early April but that the final word would come from citizens in the May referendum.

“The public will ultimately make the decision,” Bailey said.

Other items on the agenda include:

• Council will consider awarding an $816,409.45 contract for the construction of a road between Innes Street and Faith Road.

In 2015, the city entered into a three-party agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and a Charlotte-based limited liability company called SBBHAK, LLC, to construct a multi-lane road between Innes Street and Faith Road, according to the released agenda.

The agreement allows the developer to build the roadway ahead of NCDOT’s timetable and receive a reimbursement from the city of Salisbury for the construction. The city will be reimbursed for that payment, up to $1.1 million, by NCDOT when funds become available around 2020.

The Blythe Development Company has been awarded the contract that the Council will vote on.

• Council will consider making more appointments to city boards and commissions.

City Council will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall — 217 S. Main St.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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