Southwest Wake News

Morrisville’s Hindu Society gets its money back

The widening and addition of turn lanes on Aviation Parkway near the Clements Drive could come soon, paid for by the Hindu Society of North Carolina.

The Hindu Society’s temple and meeting hall are located there, and the group wants to expand by adding classrooms and meeting space. But town rules requires them to pay for improvements to the part of Aviation Parkway directly across from their property.

The plans were paused last month when the Hindu Society remembered it made a $14,000 payment to the town in 1988 for a similar project. The town never did the work on the state-owned road, and records don’t show the town ever having refunded the money.

The Hindu Society, facing a $300,000 bill for the minimum level of required work, asked for credit for that past payment.

They got it last month, to the tune of more than $70,000. Hindu Society leaders previously have said getting the money back would help construction start sooner by easing their fundraising pressure.

“I think anything we can do to encourage better traffic flow, better safety, is to be encouraged,” Mayor Mark Stohlman said.

“I’m looking forward to us moving forward and them commencing with their plans for a learning center,” Council member Steve Rao said.

Town officials debated the best way to pay them back – either figuring out exactly how much interest was accrued in the last 25 years, or applying a blanket 8-percent rate that’s often required by North Carolina courts in payment disputes.

The town council voted unanimously last month to use the 8-percent rate, even though the final sum was likely higher than the actual amount accrued.

Some council members said they wanted to avoid any potential legal challenge. Others said they wanted to reward the Hindu Society for working on the road and for being an active and positive civic contributor for many years.

Council member Vicki Scroggins-Johnson said the situation would be a good reminder to the town to keep thorough records. Stohlman said the town has improved record-keeping since 1988.

Stohlman also said the town government, and Morrisville residents, will benefit from swift action on the road improvements.

“I think the resolution is a fair compromise for both parties,” Stohlman said. “Certainly the town will benefit from the $300,000-plus they’ll put into the road.”

That part of the road also is scheduled to be widened and gain a median in order to further improve safety. Town Manager Martha Wheelock has said the state likely won’t start that project for at least another decade.