October 2012 Highlights

Considering the great issues of the day: disaster aid and recovery, national elections...and front-yard parking? At any rate, here's wishing a safe and fun Halloween to you and your families.

Sandy aid: All of us are concerned right now with helping the folks hit by one of the largest and most catastrophic storms to hit the East Coast in our lifetimes. We're being asked for, and I recommend, donations to the Red Cross. The easiest and quickest way to provide support is through an online donation via www.redcross.org. Remember, the Red Cross cannot handle in-kind donations like canned goods. They do need financial help to keep their emergency assistance flowing.

Early voting ends Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.: Early voting in this critical election began in North Carolina on October 18, and will run through this Saturday, November 3, at 5 p.m. During early voting, a registered voter can vote at any early voting site in your county of residence. Any resident citizen who is not registered, or who needs to update your address, can also register and vote during one stop at an early voting site. (To register during early voting, bring an identification card or utility bill with your name and current address on it.) You can get the comprehensive list of Forsyth County early voting sites and times here:
And of course, if you don't vote early, you can vote on election day itself (Tuesday, Nov. 6)--but only if you are already registered, and only at the polling place for your precinct of residence. Whether you vote early or on election day itself, don't forget to VOTE!

If you're undecided on the statewide non-partisan judicial races, I've posted my recommendations at www.danbesse.org.

Front-yard parking: The city council at our October 15 meeting adopted the compromise ordinance on regulating front-yard parking. In brief, the ordinance does not prohibit front-yard parking citywide. Instead, it permits neighborhoods which identify themselves as having a problem with this practice to apply for designation as a no-front-yard parking zone. (It's similar to the idea of designating zones in which permits are required for parking on the street.) In order to be considered for designation, 60% of the property owners in a defined residential area of at least 100,000 square feet must sign up to support a petition for the no-front-yard parking zone. The area to be covered is determined by the neighbors seeking designation. The city council must approve or reject each petition. Designations are reviewed every two years, or can be dissolved upon petition by a majority of property owners in the designated zone. The new ordinance is scheduled to take effect December 1.

Back-yard chickens: The city council on November 5 will consider changes to the regulations on keeping chickens within residential areas. The proposed changes affect the property line setbacks, other requirements, and permitting process for this "urban back-yard" chicken-keeping. The proposal would allow 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 would 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. The proposed changes are a compromise proposal attempting to balance the concerns of urban chicken advocates and residents concerned about potential noise, odor, and vermin problems.

Legacy Plan update hearing: The proposed Legacy Plan 2030 comprehensive update will be considered by the city council at our November 5 meeting. The vote will be preceded by a public hearing. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. 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.

Break-ins response: There have been concerns raised about the rate of home and auto break-ins in our city. While this is not a new issue, public safety is always a top priority and a valid concern. I'm in the process of setting up a presentation and discussion of these issues for the Ardmore neighborhood, which will 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 the same with any neighborhood association within the Southwest Ward.

Fire Station 2 mold remediation completed: The mold problems which required a temporary closure of Fire Station 2 on Somerset Drive have been successfully tracked down and cleaned up, according to our city contractors and staff. Repair work at the station is underway preparatory to getting the station back to full normal operation.

NCLM Annual Meeting notes: While helping to represent Winston-Salem at the N.C. League of Municipalities annual meeting in Charlotte this month, I brought back some potentially useful ideas from workshops on water resources, land use decisions and economic development, and transportation issues. If you'd like to review my notes, you can find them posted at www.danbesse.org.

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

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