March 2010 Highlights

In March, the City Council approved code changes to encourage more business redevelopment within the city.

Development flexibility:     In March, the City Council approved a set of small adjustments to our Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), designed to make it easier and more attractive to redevelop and renovate existing commercial areas within the city.  There are several important goals in making these changes:

  • Activate business and job growth during a tough economy.
  • Encourage redevelopment and renovation of existing commercial areas which may otherwise decline in activity and lose attractiveness.
  • Discourage urban sprawl that eats up green space and crowds our roads.
  • Examples of the code adjustments involved are reducing bufferyards between commercial uses; making parking requirements for small redevelopment more flexible; and encouraging pedestrian-oriented storefronts.  For anyone who really wants to dive into the details, they're available online under the March 1 meeting agenda and materials at http://www.cityofws.org/Home/CityGovernment/CityCouncil/Articles/CityCouncilAgendaAndMinutes2010.

City Manager's public meeting:     Winston-Salem's City Manager Lee Garrity is holding a series of four public meetings around the city, to hear from neighborhoods and residents on issues of concern.  The meeting for the South and Southwest Wards is Tuesday, March 30, beginning at 6 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Georgia Taylor Recreation Center at 1471 W. Clemmonsville Road.  All Southwest Ward residents are welcome to take part.

Electronic signs:     Also this month, the city council turned down a request to allow electronic signs to change at faster rates on our roadsides.  The request came from a Durham-based company which owns several local convenience stores and is dissatisfied with Winston-Salem's restrictions on its roadside electronic message boards—even though Durham's limitations are even stronger.  I and most other council members concluded that the last thing we need on our streets is more driver distraction from flashing signage.  Blinking, flashing electronic roadside ad signage is one of those things that happens in Vegas and is welcome to stay there.

Census survey:     It happens every ten years, and it determines things like how many representatives we get in Congress and the state legislature, and how much funding we get back for our schools, roads, and law enforcement.  It's the census, and you will have received one in the mail for your household.  The information each household reports is confidential and cannot be used in any way that identifies that home.  The data is compiled for statistical purposes only.  If you haven't returned your completed census form yet, please do that this week!

Crime reduction strategies:     Police Chief Scott Cunningham updated the Public Safety Committee this month on WSPD crime reduction strategies.  This includes the status of departmental staffing, patrol division beats, and options under consideration for tactical foot patrols and satellite police facilities.  Here's the link to the full report: 

http://www.cwsonline.org/sirepub/cache/2/lu2gij55rcr2gp55gfupqe45/16633803302010103721224.PDF.

Homelessness Commission:     In 2006, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County adopted a ten-year plan designed to end chronic homelessness in our community.  The goal is to get folks with serious problems, which result in their ending up homeless repeatedly or for long periods, off the streets and out of the shelters and into permanent housing.  That effort is being coordinated by a United Way-funded effort, and overseen by a commission of community leaders and representatives of agencies which assist homeless persons.  As of this month, I've been designated as the city council's representative on that commission, and will be working to help implement improvements to our homelessness prevention efforts.

Duke tree trimming:     Duke Energy has advised the city that their contractors will be trimming trees under and around power lines in south/southwest areas of Winston-Salem from late March through May.  Within the Southwest Ward, the areas to be trimmed include many streets in the Ardmore neighborhood.   Duke's contractors are supposed to leave doorhangers for affected property owners three to five business days before doing work on their property.  Please keep an eye out for these and contact the number listed on the notice with any questions.

City Council meeting times and coverage:     Starting in April, the city council is changing our meeting times in an attempt to make it easier for more citizens to attend or watch the meetings live.  Regular full City Council meetings will start a half-hour earlier, at 7 p.m.  Regular Council Committee meetings will start later, at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., instead of 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.  In addition, the regular committee meetings will be televised on cable channel 13, just as the full council meetings are now.  Meetings can also be watched online, at www.cityofws.org.  Meeting and TV13 schedules are available on that website.