November 2012 Highlights

We took action in November on a number of items of interest, including city planning, economic development, greenways, and even chickens. Plus, I've included information on planning for leaf collection.

Legacy Plan update approved: The Legacy Plan 2030 comprehensive update was approved by the city council at our November 5 meeting. The Legacy 2030 Update was developed through a several-year process of studies and public input. It's a planning guidance document addressing land use management, transportation systems, environment, economic development, and other quality of life issues. Its predecessor, the Legacy Plan adopted in 2001, has been used extensively as a guidance document in considering zoning issues and city services planning and investment. The new plan can be reviewed in full at www.Legacy2030.com.

Back-yard chickens: The city council on November 5 also approved changes to the regulations on keeping chickens within residential areas. The changes affect the property line setbacks, other requirements, and permitting process for this "urban back-yard" chicken-keeping. The proposal allows permits for chicken-keeping in back-yards within residential zones, but only if the chicken coop and run are set back at least 100 feet from all property lines, or are set back at least 25 feet and receive written permission from every neighboring property owner whose line is closer than 100 feet from the coop and run. Other specific requirements apply in all cases: tight enclosure of feed and waste; no roosters; no more than five chickens; and secure enclosure of the coops and runs. No loose-running chickens are allowed at any time. Two valid complaints against a chicken-keeping neighbor for violation of these rules will result in a loss of their permit. These changes are a compromise attempting to balance the concerns of urban chicken advocates and residents concerned about preventing noise, odor, and vermin problems.

Herbalife incentives: Winston-Salem is in the process of competing for another major industrial facility, a proposed east coast manufacturing operation for Herbalife, a global vitamins and nutritional supplements maker. The California-based company is considering buying and refitting the former Dell plant. If the facility is located here, it is expected to involve more than $100 million in taxable capital improvements and equipment, as well as the creation of almost 500 local jobs. The company is also considering an alternative location in Georgia.
In order to compete for the new plant, the city has offered an economic development incentives package based on these numbers, and which would see the project pay for itself plus provide substantial net new tax revenues over and above the amount of incentives payments. As usual, the incentives payments also would be contingent on delivery of specified levels of taxable investment and jobs, and guaranteed by "clawback" provisions for the recovery of incentives payments if the company's deliverables fall short. (These guarantees are similar to those which resulted in a full recovery of the city's payments from Dell when it failed to meet the contractual targets.) The Herbalife project is a traditional example of incentives usage for a manufacturing project which would bring net new economic activity to our region (as opposed to a retail project competing with existing local retailers).

Greenways progress: The city council at our November 19 meeting also approved agreements with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation (NCDOT) for the construction of phase one of the Little Creek Greenway and improvements to the Muddy Creek Greenway. Under the agreements, the city will design and construct the projects, and NCDOT will reimburse the city for 80% of the specified costs. (Both projects will be built by private contractors, selected by public bid process, and are scheduled for completion in 2013.)

Holiday precautions: The holidays are usually a time of year when property crimes spike, as thieves take advantage of cars full of gifts and homes being vacant while families are off visiting relatives. There are precautions we can take to make our homes and vehicles less vulnerable to these crimes. Here's a link to a presentation by the WSPD Crime Prevention program reviewing some of these precautions: http://www.cityofws.org/Assets/CityOfWS//Documents/Police/Crime%20Prevention/Holiday%20Safety.pdf
Crime Prevention officers are also available to attend neighborhood association and neighborhood watch meetings to discuss these and other public safety issues.

A presentation and discussion of crime and public safety issues is being set up for the Ardmore neighborhood, in cooperation with the Ardmore Neighborhood Association, and is tentatively scheduled for the ANA board's regular monthly meeting time in February (Thursday, Feb. 14). (I'll confirm the date and announce it in a future update.) I expect it to include police presentations on current crime patterns and statistics, how the police department is responding to these issues, and how citizens can effectively participate. I will be more than happy to work on setting up similar programs with any other neighborhood association within the Southwest Ward.

Leaf collection questions: Curbside leaf collection is a popular service which annually brings a host of inquiries about when it will be happening where. For those interested in taking advantage of this service and planning when to place your leaves at the curb, remember the city's online tool for tracking the progress of leaf collection crews: www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Sanitation/Articles/LeafRoutes

Please also remember these guidelines for participating in the curbside leaf collection service:
--Rake leaves to the edge of your yard, behind the curb, not in the street, and not blocking the sidewalk.
--Leaves only; sticks and other debris can damage the collection equipment.
--Don't park on or in front of the leaves any time collection could take place.
--Don't put the leaves on a tarp.

The first collection pass is underway now. Two more are planned for this season. Approximate dates are included on the Sanitation Department website.

"City of Winston-Salem University": Are you interested in getting a broader understanding of city government responsibilities, including the functions of different city departments? Then the "City of Winston-Salem University" classes may be for you. The next CWSU class will run January 31 through April 15, for three hours on Thursday evenings. Interested city residents can apply for a spot in the class (at no charge), and applications are being accepted until December 28 at 5 p.m. Applications are available online at http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/MarketingAndCommunications/CWSU/Articles/CityOfWSUniversity

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