Woodfin – Woodfin Police Chief Michael Dykes gave a presentation on traffic control by his department. The presentation was prompted by Councilman McAllister’s concern about traffic along Riverside Drive.
Dykes said that there had been a total of 1,808 crashes investigated by Woodfin from 2018 to 2022. In those crashes, there were 66 injuries.and one fatality each year.
Nearly half of all crashes between 2018 and 2022 were on Future I-26 or Weaverville Rd, with 16.5 % on state secondary routes (Elk Mountain Rd, Old Leicester Hwy, Old Marshall Hwy, Elkwood Ave, etc.), 14.8 % in public vehicular areas (parking lots), 11.4 % on NC 251 (Riverside Dr), and 7.6 % on all other roadways (local streets, private roads). He said all fatalities had been either on Future I-26 or Weaverville Rd.
“How do we reduce fatalities?” asked Dyke. “By reducing speeds.” He said speed enforcement plays a role in that, but not the only one. He told the council that Woodfin Speed Enforcement Data shows 610 citations are issued annually, with 103 citations for speeding. Most are issued on future I-26 71 or 69% another 26 or 25.7% on Riverside Dr., six or 5.3% on all other roadways. About 17% of all citations are issued for speeding.
McAllister asked if the police were required to work 26. “I’m required to work the crashes up there,” explained Dykes, “and so we work speed enforcement to try and reduce the severity of the crashes.”Four of the last five fatalities were on US 19 (future 26).”
After a couple of questions from the council, one of which was by Councilwoman Elisabeth Ervin about time spent on speed enforcement. Dyke said about 20% of the officers’ time was spent on traffic stops.
She then got more specific. “I’m thinking more about when I see our cars hidden back up in the woods off an exit to catch a speeder. How much time are we spending doing that on an average shift?” Dyke said he could not answer that as the officers’ time is not tracked if they are not on a call. He did say that in his patrol days, he would park in a conspicuous place and do paperwork, making motorists think he was running radar. Ervin asked if the officers are asked to go sit on the interstate, to which Dykes replied, “They are asked to go patrol, primarily in known problem areas.”
He went on to say that ways to help collaboratively reduce speeding besides enforcement are roadway design, speed limits, signage, markings, traffic calming (medians, speed bumps, lane offsets), education, speed boards, media/social media, community events, officer presence, and radar or lidar. Dyke said the solution is a holistic approach by community partners, including education, design, and enforcement.
Town Implements New Stormwater Ordinance
Under its new business, the town held a public hearing for a text amendment to the Town of Woodfin Code of Ordinances establishing a new stormwater ordinance. The presentation was given by Woodfin Project and Facilities Manager Adrienne Isenhower. The town will now require developers to get a stormwater permit when they meet one of three triggers: disturbing more than one acre, disturbing less than one acre when it is part of a large common plan of development, and development and redevelopment that increase impervious surfaces by more than 50%.
In addition to the permits, there will be annual inspections of the stormwater system, as well as an agreement for the developer or owners to maintain the system. The new ordinance also includes civil penalties for illicit runoff from things like paint down to yard waste. The regulation defines yard waste as “land-clearing waste and sediment, grass clippings, leaves, etc.”
The town will also be setting up a district in which landowners will pay a stormwater fee to pay for the cost of the system. Many detractors of such laws have dubbed such fees the “rain tax.” No one spoke at the public hearing, and it passed unanimously.
Other actions during the meeting
Under the consent agenda, the council appointed Stephanie Gosnell to the town’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee and surplused town-owned property that included wheels and tires from an old backhoe, a 2012 Scag Turf Tiger zero-turn mower, and a petroleum tank. A resolution supporting the Buncombe County Board of Education’s local control of school calendars. The consent agenda also included the repeal of the personnel policy ordinance and reestablishing a new personnel policy, as well as an amendment to the FY2023 budget that included a $5,000 expense to go toward establishing a Woodfin Business Association.
During public comment, Lily Jones said she and some other residents are trying to start a community garden in Woodfin. She believes it would be a benefit to the community in the form of free food for the community. Two other residents also spoke in favor of a community garden. Councilman Ronnie Lunsford said the town’s previous council had heard from Walt Brewer, head of Parks and Recreation, about this matter. The women already had a meeting scheduled with his committee, they said.
The council then heard a presentation by Eric Bradford, Director of Operations at Asheville GreenWorks, about the group’s 50-year history and experience managing large groups of volunteers. He informed the council about programs, including help with recycling, that the group has to offer the town, which he called the fastest-growing area in Buncombe County.
His presentation led to Councilman Jim McAllister asking for the latest in recycling news. “I noticed Curbie’s paper recycling is like a skyscraper over there. Have things in the recycling world changed recently? Is it getting hard to find a place to take recycled materials?”
“It really has, and I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but recycling needs to be completely changed,” said Bradford. He went on to blame “single-stream” recycling, where recyclables are not sorted but go into one container before pickup by recyclers like Curbie.
Curbie then became the topic of the discussion, with Lunsford saying the price of recyclables on the stock market has a lot to do with causing Curbie’s warehouse to fill, leading the baled recyclables to then stack up outside, leading to debris from the bales scattering throughout the neighborhood. McAllister asked the owner of Curbie to be invited to speak at a meeting.
Council then heard from Town Manager Shannon Tuch, who reviewed contracts and purchase orders since the last meeting, including $45,500 to Equinox, $6,000 to Catholic Charities, and $14,000 to purchase a new zero-turn lawn mower.
She then went to the administrative report, saying the town hall/town center needs and feasibility study for the four submitted sites should have a decision by early to mid-March, the work on the end-of-year budget projections and FY2024 budget preparation was underway, and the town newsletter had been mailed to residents along with being posted on the website. She also gave reports on planning, stormwater, and public works, where 10 proposals have been submitted for the demolition of the building on the Silver-Line Park property.
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