February 2015 Highlights

In addition to a lot of snow, February brought changes to the rules on recycling and on cell towers.  First, here’s a reminder about the final scheduled public input meeting on the Southwest Suburban Area Plan Update.

Southwest Suburban Area Plan Update public meetings:     The final scheduled public input meeting for the Southwest Suburban Area Plan Update is set for Tuesday, March 3, starting at 6 p.m., at Little Creek Recreation Center (610 Foxcroft Drive).  Small area plans are designed to provide a clear picture of the state of our community and development in that area, make recommendations for future development, and offer analysis of the public facilities and resources that will be needed to serve those neighborhoods in the future.

Snow info:     February this year saw multiple snow events, replete with associated closures, postponements, and service delivery hassles.  (Ok, we know that kids love playing in the snow.  For that matter, my own friends know to watch out for stray snowballs from my direction, so please pardon the ‘bah humbug’.)  In any case, here are some handy info sources when you find yourself looking for answers during a future snow or ice event:

--Report a power outage to Duke Energy:  1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-2766)

--Get an update on outage locations and extent:  http://www.duke-energy.com/north-carolina/outages.as
--Check for updates on sanitation collection changes:  http://www.cityofws.org/departments/sanitatio
--Get live information online about the status of city services in general:  http://www.cityofws.org/departments/city-link  (Or call 311.)

--Find information on state road conditions:     http://www.ncdot.gov/trave

Recycling:     Our city has great and growing participation in our curbside recycling program.  We want to continue that.  With that success, however, come some growing pains that we need to address.  One of those is an increasing level of contamination of the stream of recyclables from non-recyclable trash put in the blue recycling carts.  Mixing in a lot of ineligible trash with the recycling can make it harder and more expensive to process the materials that we can recycle.  To help address that, we’re undertaking two efforts.  First is a general increase in our public education on recycling, through city TV, mailers, and online information.  Second, starting soon, carts found to include a lot of clearly non-recyclables will get caution notices attached.  I don’t mean the accidental inclusion of a couple of items—we’re talking about the occasional households who just toss entire bags of trash into the blue recycling bins.  Three notices in a 12-month period for these heavy violations will result in removal of the blue cart and discontinuance of recycling service to that address.  Please, keep recycling!  However, if you have any questions about what the city can or can’t recycle, please take a look here:  http://www.cityofws.org/departments/sanitation/collections/recycle-today/preparing-material

Cell tower rules:       The city council on February 16 approved some additional changes to the rules on cell towers in residential areas.  In addition to the restrictions previously approved last year, we reduced the maximum height of towers in residential areas from 199 feet to 150 feet, and specified that “unipole” towers are to be preferred in residential areas.  Unipole towers look like tall flagpoles; their transmission equipment is concealed under cover.  They differ from “monopoles” which have the transmission equipment arrays visible.  Those interested in reading further details can find them here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/Planning/Zoning/ZoningCases/December2014/UDO254.pd

RUCA funding:     The city council in February also approved an additional assistance package to the Southeast Plaza RUCA (Revitalizing Urban Commercial Area).  I supported the additional city assistance because that particular RUCA has proven to be our best example of what the RUCA program is intended to achieve:  revitalization of what had been a deteriorated commercial area, from an eyesore to an economic contributor to the area of our city it serves.  In this case, the revitalized shopping center provides access to fresh food and health services (a full grocery store and a pharmacy) to a large community area that would otherwise lack them.  The business investors there have used previous city investments well, and propose to further upfit the center to bring in additional services (such as a dental clinic) to an area that needs such access.  The city investment will leverage more new private investment.

     The additional Southeast Plaza package did NOT come at the expense of the ongoing RUCA project which most directly affects the Southwest Ward:  the West Salem/Academy RUCA.  One project remains in progress at the West Salem/Academy RUCA, and an additional application is under review for further development there.  If approved, the additional West Salem/Academy development will draw on the funds remaining ($70,000) out of that RUCA’s original allocation.


March activities and notes:   

--Business 40/downtown street study:     The public drop-in session originally set for February 26 has been postponed to Thursday, March 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., Old Salem Visitors Center, 900 Old Salem Road.  The session will provide info and take comments on the proposed changes to downtown area streets in adjustment to the reconfigured Business 40 interchanges.  Changes will deal with one-vs-two way streets, parking, pedestrians, business access, etc.  http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/transportation/forms-reports/projects/business40/bus40_streetstudy_pubmeeting_flyer_20150226_v2.pd
--Citizens’ Police Academy:     Applications are being taken now for the spring session of the Citizens’ Police Academy, a 13-week program to better acquaint interested citizens with the law enforcement profession and the role of the police department.  Classes meet once a week, Thursdays 6:30—9:30 p.m.  The spring session begins April 16, and the application deadline is March 30.  For more information or to apply, see here:  http://www.cityofws.org/departments/police/citizen-police-academ
--Forsyth Creek Week:     The third annual Forsyth Creek Week will take place March 14-22, with educational activities and events on streams, water quality, and related topics.  For details, see http://www.forsythcreekweek.or

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