July 2008 Highlights

In July, we saw completion of a major intersection realignment of particular interest to the suburban neighborhoods of the Southwest Ward.  In addition, final action was taken on infill development standards, but front-yard parking rules were returned to committee for more review.
 
New Burke Mill/Stratford/Atwood intersection completed:
     The realigned Burke Mill Road was re-opened on July 28.  This long-awaited project eliminates the previous unsafe intersection of Burke Mill and Stratford, which had seen several accidents, including one fatality, as drivers tried to turn left (south) across multiple lanes onto Stratford.  In its place now is the signalized four-way intersection of Stratford with Burke Mill and Atwood roads.  Residents of the suburban neighborhoods west of South Stratford now have a way to safely return home in the evenings while avoiding the congestion of Hanes Mall Boulevard.
 
Infill development standards approved:     The City Council on July 7 gave final approval to the new residential infill development standards for urban neighborhoods.  (They apply in the "Growth Management Area 2" zone, which includes the closer-in, denser urban neighborhoods.  Ardmore is an example within the Southwest Ward.)  These are areas which are essentially built-out, but have occasional vacant lots or redevelopments.  The intent of the infill rules is to maintain general compatibility between the new infill and existing housing.  A principal component is the requirement that the infill construction be set back from the street at distances comparable to the surrounding housing, and that it be oriented toward the street.  The infill rules are not as detailed or restrictive as Historic Overlay or Neighborhood Conservation Overlay rules.
 
Front yard parking limits held for further review:     A number of city residents made sometimes passionate presentations, pro or con, at the July 7 City Council hearing on proposed front-yard parking limits.  Under the proposal, parking on front lawns would be limited to the area of "improved" (paved or graveled) driveways and parking pads.  Driveways and parking pads would be limited to no more than 30% of the front lawn area of a dwelling.
     The draft ordinance was developed in response to repeated citizen complaints to some Council members.  Most complaints about parking on front lawns appear to relate to rental homes in which multiple tenants use the front lawns for regular parking.  Since city code cannot legally discriminate between renters and homeowners, however, the restrictions as proposed would apply to all residential properties.  There has also been discussion of an alternate approach in which neighborhoods could petition for designation on a case by case basis as no-front-yard parking zones.
     Following the hearing, the proposal was returned to committee for further discussion.  This item is likely to appear on the agenda of the Community Development/Housing/General Government Committee meeting on August 12, beginning at 4 p.m. at City Hall.
 
Storm damage and cleanup:     Parts of the Southwest Ward were among areas of the city heavily impacted by downed utility lines and tree damage during the July 22 severe thunderstorm.  City crews have been actively working on cleanup and debris removal since that time.  I've been contacted by residents asking me to pass along appreciation to those crews—so thanks y'all!
 
Rescue Mission "New Life Center" opens:
     As Winston-Salem continues to work on our plans to eliminate chronic homelessness, we saw an important private facility hold its official opening on July 22.  The Winston-Salem Rescue Mission has long operated an important shelter and supportive services.  With the completion of its new center (at 718 N. Trade Street), the Rescue Mission's capacity is increased by 40 residents, with the facilities to provide the transitional support services necessary for long-term recovery by homeless individuals.  This new private facility is an important addition to our community's social safety net.
 
Southwest Suburban Area Plan to be heard:     This latest city/county small area plan to near completion covers parts of the West, Southwest, and South Wards, as well as some unincorporated area.  Covered Southwest Ward neighborhoods include Burke Park, Hannaford, Atwood, Ashford, Westbrook, and Salem Woods, for example.  The small area plans are intended to give city/county planners guidance in reviewing requests for new or improved facilities or zoning requests in the affected areas.  They also serve as useful guidance for city investment in needed facilities, from parks to transportation.
     The Southwest Suburban Area Plan has been drafted over the past year with assistance from a Citizen Advisory Committee and several public input meetings.  The full plan can be reviewed at www.cityofws.org/planning.  The City Council will hold a final public hearing on the draft plan on Monday, August 4, during the Council meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.
 
National Night Out to be held Aug. 5: 
    The annual National Night Out to recognize the cooperative work of our police and citizen neighborhood watch participants will be held on Tuesday, August 5.  The citywide opening ceremony this year will be held in the Northeast Ward at 1322 Motor Road (New Birth of Christ Church), beginning at 6 p.m.  Neighborhood watch events in the Southwest Ward will be held at 3450 Healy Drive (Healy Towers), 1416 Bolton Road (Trinity Presbyterian Church), and 435 Keating Drive (Greek Orthodox Church).