August 2013 Highlights

Have a great Labor Day holiday--and remember the sanitation collection schedule changes.

Labor Day week sanitation collection changes:   Most city offices will be closed for the Labor Day holiday on Monday, September 2. The holiday also affects the sanitation collection schedule that week.

--Garbage collection will be unchanged.

--Recycling (RED week) and yard waste collections will be postponed one day.

Municipal primary elections underway now:   They happen every four years, and they're going on now: Winston-Salem city elections. Early voting at the Forsyth County Government Center (201 N. Chestnut St.) is underway now for the September 10 primary. Early voting in the primary runs through Saturday, September 7 at 1 p.m. For the full schedule of early voting days/hours, see here: http://www.forsyth.cc/Elections/Documents/one_stop_schedule.pdf
Regular election day voting for the primary will take place on Tuesday, September 10, at your regular polling places from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The general election will take place on November 5. I'll include more information on early voting for the November election in my September month-end update.

"Ask Allen" forum scheduled:   Mayor Allen Joines is holding three "community chat" forums next week (Labor Day week), including one in the Southwest Ward. The one here will take place on Wednesday, September 4, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Miller Park Recreation Center (400 Leisure Lane). These are designed to be open question and answer sessions on city and community issues.

Streetlight outage reporting The Public Works Committee of the city council in August heard a presentation by Duke Energy on the reporting and repair process for malfunctioning streetlights. The information seemed so useful that I thought you'd appreciate my passing it along.

--Duke Energy owns and operates the streetlights in Winston-Salem, and repair requests can best be made directly to them.

--Report outages online here: www.duke-energy.com/dukelighting or by phone here: 1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-3766).

--Include the street address of the light which is out, and include your own contact information. You can also mark the pole which has the malfunctioning light with yellow tape or ribbon (optional).

--Most repairs are made within a week of receipt. If it's been longer, then the request may have gone astray. If it hasn't been fixed within two weeks of your report, then you are welcome to contact me with the information, and I will contact Duke's district community relations manager.

"Nonconforming uses" in zoning ordinance:   At our August 5 meeting, the city council adopted Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) changes intended to clarify ambiguous language about when a property loses its "nonconforming use" status. A "nonconforming use" refers to a use (such as a small retail store) which is allowed to continue operating in an area not zoned to allow it (such as a single-family residential zone) because the use (the store, in this example) was already there when the zoning which doesn't include it was adopted. These legal nonconforming uses are fairly common. However, the right to continue a nonconforming use on a property is lost if the use is discontinued for a full year or more.

There is one usual exception to that one-year period for loss of the legal nonconforming status. That's when a building containing the use (such as that store) has been demolished or destroyed, and a building permit has been issued to rebuild it. Previously, the ordinance was silent on how long that exception could be stretched out. The newly adopted language clarifies that point: no more than two years. If a "certificate of occupancy" isn't issued by the city within two years of the granting of the building permit--indicating that the construction is completed and the building ready to open again--then the "nonconforming use" exception is lost. This clarification of the law should help to clear up the debates that sometimes come up in a neighborhood about whether an old commercial use there is still permitted when it hasn't been operating for a while.

Dog tethering ordinance:   This is the new local ordinance on tying or chaining dogs that goes into effect at the end of this month (August). This is a COUNTY ordinance, NOT a city ordinance--one adopted by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, not by the Winston-Salem City Council. However, I've been receiving questions about it, so I thought that you would appreciate a brief report:

--The new ordinance does not absolutely bar tethering of dogs, but requires that it not be done in a way that constitutes "abuse, abandonment, or cruelty". It lists a number of examples. To read the full ordinance, check here: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/AnimalControl/Documents/dog_confinement.pdf
--Complaints about examples of tethering which you think may violate the ordinance should be directed to the Forsyth County Animal Control Department at 703-2490. More contact information for Animal Control is found here: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/AnimalControl/

--Questions about the law's intent or complaints about its application or enforcement can be directed to your Forsyth County Commissioners at 703-2020. Individual commissioners' contact information can be found here: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/Commissioners/

Other August notes:

--The Community Development committee of the city council at our August meeting heard an update on efforts to save energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from city government activities. There's good news: efficiency efforts since 2011 have resulted in close to $100,000 in annual energy cost savings, and a reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions from internal city operations by over 1,500 tons. For more information on the city's energy efficiency and other sustainability programs, see here: http://www.cityofws.org/departments/property-facilities-management/sustainability/winston-salem-is-a-green-city
--Due to the Labor Day holiday, the city council's regular meeting next week will be postponed one day to Tuesday, September 3, at 7 p.m.

--Those interested in the proposed Downtown Improvement District should plan to comment at the public hearing scheduled for the city council meeting Monday, October 7, at 7 p.m. The full background report on the BID proposal can be found here: http://www.cwsonline.org/sirepub/cache/2/xanwa02pyeyukk45utt3hj45/35727808302013095934234.PDF

--Rock the Block for 2013 will be held Saturday, September 21, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The popular Moonlight Madness 5k will be held the evening before, September 20. More information on both can be found at www.rocktheblockws.com.

--The City of Winston-Salem will hold its annual commemoration ceremony for the 9/11/01 attacks, on Wednesday, September 11, at 9 a.m. at Corpening Plaza. Staff from Police and Fire will participate, and the public is invited.

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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