Woodfin – Looking for guidance from its residents, Woodfin Town Commissioners held a special meeting last week to get input on a couple of items. Specifically, the commissioners wanted to get ideas on what the residents were looking for in a downtown center and comments on short-term rentals, but they got much more.
Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun called the meeting to order. He turned the mic over to Mayor Pro-Tempore Jim McAllister, who told those in attendance that the commissioners were looking for ideas and suggestions and that this was not a complaint meeting and that complaints should be offered during the monthly meeting’s public comment period.
Resident Roger Baylor, who was born and raised in the area but moved back to Woodfin about seven months ago, was the first to speak. “I think the town center should be right up there at Reynolds Village. However, the next speaker, who has been a resident of the town for 23 years, questioned whether Reynolds Village could ever be the town center. His idea was to have signage and wayfinding prompts unique to the town, along with “Welcome to Woodfin” signage on major highways into the town.
Another citizen agreed with the signs and said the town needed to create a brand so that people would come and spend their money here. Kim Hunter suggested a map to help visitors get around Woodfin. A woman suggested a chamber of commerce to help businesses since she only knew about a business if she drove by it. A four-year resident of the town commented that an alternative way of thinking about Woodfin is not as one downtown center but a series of downtown centers. A man who lived in Woodfin for four years said that Reynolds Mountain would not be a good place to relocate the town government.
Most people voiced their opinions and suggestions in relatively concise statements during the meeting as commissioners sat and listened. While McAllister asked that the meeting not turn into a complaint session, one woman had a list of complaints about a developer and his rentals, which did not allow the development homeowners association to control the development and several issues with short-term rentals.
A 70-year-old resident asked if the town had considered tearing down the community center and building another. McAllister said, “at this point, everything is on the table.”
A 48-year old resident complained that short-term rentals are not allowed in R-21 zoning and she had lodged a number of complaints and finally given up and started trying to work with the owner. She said there had been times when 20 to 30 cars had been at the home as late as 11:30 p.m. She asked the commissioners to “please follow through” on residents’ complaints. Her comment received a round of applause.
The hour-and-a-half listening session also ranged into other topics, such as when resident Jeff Feist spoke on the maintenance of buildings and grounds. “We need to think of things as maintaining things as we go,” Feist said. Sidewalks, tree preservation, development and more were among other issues that came up at the meeting.
At the end, McAllister and VeHaun thanked the crowd for coming out. VeHaun said they would take the comments and recommendations back to town hall and encouraged residents to attend the monthly commissioners’ meetings.
Reporter’s note: The meeting was held at the town’s community center, which has poor acoustics, and some names may have been misspelled or misheard. We apologize for any inconvenience, and any confusion that may have been caused.