August 2017 Highlights

It’s time for an update on projects and upcoming zoning issues of likely interest to Southwest Ward residents.  First, here’s a note on Labor Day holiday service changes:

Labor Day holiday service changes:     Most Winston-Salem city offices will be closed for Labor Day, September 4.  (Police and Fire will continue to be open, of course.)  There will be no change to garbage pickup schedules for the week.  However, recycling routes (Blue Week) and yard waste collections will be postponed one day from their usual times.

Major project updates:     Two major projects of special interest to Southwest Ward residents have updates:

--Police District 3 Station:     Police District 3 Station has been completed, and WSPD is in the process of moving in and setting up offices there now.  Project completion had been delayed by some internal wiring issues, but I am pleased to report that its total cost still came in under budget:  approximately $3.3 million, $600,000 less than the budgeted $3.9 million.  A public ribbon-cutting and opening event will be scheduled soon, and I will send out an invitation notice when it is set. 

--Lockland Park drainage repairs:     The major drainage problems repair project in and near Lockland Park is about to begin.  Construction is scheduled to start the first week in September, with completion no later than March 10.  Repairs of the sinkholes which have required fencing off an area of the park since last year were delayed by the extensive scope of collapsed and undersized piping which has to be replaced.  The contract work needed will cost just under $900,000.  Thank you to neighbors and park users for your patience. 

Upcoming zoning issues:     There are two zoning/planning matters of significant interest to Southwest Ward residents, which are scheduled to be considered by the city council at our September 5 meeting, starting at 7 p.m. at City Hall.  (The meeting is being held on Tuesday rather than its usual Monday due to the Labor Day holiday.)

--A new five-story apartment building and parking deck is proposed for the section of 4th Street between Business 40 and Peters Creek Parkway.  The proposal (Zoning case W-3340) would replace several older but sound houses containing 20 residential units with a five-story building containing 144 apartments and 313 parking spaces.  New construction of that density runs contrary to the recently updated small area plan recommendations for the area, and would more than quadruple the estimated traffic produced by the site (to 958 trips per day) on this residential street.  Planning staff and the Planning Board have recommended denial of this rezoning request as excessive density for the site.  Project opponents argue that the traffic would adversely impact the West End neighborhood and that the project would eliminate affordable housing stock.  A public hearing will be held at the September 5 city council meeting prior to the council’s vote on the request.

--Another public hearing will also be held at this meeting on proposed changes to the city zoning code on “accessory” residential units in single-family districts.  The proposed changes would eliminate the existing requirement that these additional structures/apartments on a single-family-zoned lot be built only for use by relatives of the occupants of the primary home on the site.  Proponents argue that this restriction is no longer legally enforceable and that new restrictions are unnecessary.  Opponents argue that failing to incorporate new limits on these “accessory” units would in effect turn every existing single-family zoned site into a potential multi-family duplex with no public review or input.  The council will also consider a proposed alternative change that would replace the legally unenforceable family-relation requirement with the requirement that a new “accessory” residential unit on a single-family zoned lot be allowed only with a special-use zoning change.  (A special-use zoning change requires a public hearing and city council approval.)

New Police Chief named:     City Manager Lee Garrity (after hearing comments from the community, officers, and elected officials) has named WSPD Asst. Chief Catrina Thompson as Winston-Salem’s new police chief, effective September 1.  Chief Thompson has 23 years of experience as a police officer and departmental leader here in Winston-Salem.  She knows our community well, has outstanding contacts and skills, and deep professional qualifications.  Welcome Chief Thompson!  And thanks again to retiring Chief Barry Rountree for 30 years of service to our community, including a fine tenure as chief.  http://www.cityofws.org/News/ID/20364/Assistant-Police-Chief-Catrina-A-Thompson-Appointed-Chief-of-Police

Quarry Park and greenway open:     Winston-Salem’s spectacular new Quarry Park was officially opened on August 15.  Approved as part of the 2014 bonds referendum, Quarry Park brings a formerly hidden gem to public life, featuring a unique scenic overlook and other facilities.  The view has to be seen to be believed that it is here in the city.  If you haven’t seen the new park yet, head to 2450 Reynolds Park Road at your next opportunity to check it out.  The park also features a new greenway which winds around the scenic quarry and connects the Waughtown area directly to the Salem Creek Greenway trail system.  Cyclists, runners, and walkers will love it.  You can see video of the ribbon-cutting event here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCcDjVe0vWk

You can also see a drone’s-eye view of the park shortly before it opened here:  https://www.facebook.com/cityofwinstonsalem/videos/10155155916893197/

Other City Council actions in August:     At our August 21 meeting, the city council also approved these actions which may be of interest:

--We approved the “brunch” extension of legal alcohol sales hours to 10 a.m. on Sunday, as permitted by recent state legislation.

--We approved the contract for construction of the new Lantern Ridge greenway connector to the popular Muddy Creek Greenway, continuing the growth of our city greenway trails network.

--We approved a change to our city personnel benefits policy which authorizes up to six weeks in paid parental leave to city employees following birth or adoption of a child.

That’s my report for August.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks!

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