Disregarding Road & Sidewalk Closures Just Got Costly - TribPapers

Disregarding Road & Sidewalk Closures Just Got Costly

Don't go around signs like this or it could cost you $300. Photo by Malachi Brooks.

Weaverville – People in Weaverville might want to think twice before walking around barriers or driving around them to gain access to a closed road or sidewalk. At their July meeting, the Weaverville Town Council made it a $300 offense to do so after several incidents where it endangered lives.

Before the council got to that issue, they had several other items that they went through, starting with the consent agenda, among which was a tax collection rate of 99.95%, the best collection Town Manager Selena Coffey had seen. There was also a budget amendment for the police of over $44,000 to help with school resource officers from Buncombe County School, a proclamation declaring September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and a road closure on September 16th for Art in Autumn.

Next came the town manager’s report, where Coffey said staff continued their training on CodeRED and hoped to have this pushed out to the public for enrollment by August. CodeRED is a way to text, email, call, or message citizens about important information specific to the town.

She then reported on the ad hoc committee for the recreation complex, which has as its members after the first meeting Earl Rohrback, Stuart Brown, Vice Mayor McKenna, Russ Kantner, and staff members Dale Pennell, Jennifer Jackson, Shelby Stovall, and Coffey. She also thanked Assistant Police Chief Oberlin for her initiative in creating an internship program for the town.

She then updated the council on two projects, the fire station solar project, which she said they were working with Sugar Hollow Solar, and expected that the solar panel project, which she expected would begin near the end of the year. She said the delay is due “to the permitting and inspections that are required for the project. Once the work begins, the project is expected to take only a week and a half to complete.” She also updated them on the Eller Cove Watershed recreational area, where the town had applied to the Southern Appalachian Conservancy for a $2,500 grant to help with signage but was turned down.

The council then heard from members of the public, two of whom, Alan Sheppard and Jackie Fox, spoke in favor of the town keeping their Fourth of July fireworks, a matter that had been discussed in the council a week earlier, but nothing was mentioned about it at the meeting.

Action & Discussion Items

The first item up under action and discussion items was the voluntary annexation of the 65-acre sub-development Maple Trace off of Reems Creek Road. The development has 135 lots with eight common areas. David King with Maple Trace was there and said the Maple Trace Homeowners’ Association, Inc., and property owners within Maple Trace submitted a voluntary annexation petition with 100% request from residents for annexation by the town. While there was some discussion, the council unanimously voted to start the annexation process, which would take until November.

Next came the code amendment that would fine drivers and pedestrians $300 for ignoring a road or sidewalk closure notice and proceeding around it. Coffey said this was necessary because the state law had no teeth in its ordinance. She said that at the Fourth of July event that a member of the band had removed a cone and was driving through a sea of people. She said that was not the only time people had been moving barriers and driving into parade routes, and that the new law was needed.

In the debate over when it would be used, how would people know the was a fine, and other matters were talked about. Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons summed it up, saying, “Signs don’t stop rule breakers.” The board passed the ordinance unanimously after hearing from Police Chief Ron Davis, who confirmed the need for the law.

The board then heard an update on the Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan, where there had been at least two complaints from citizens, one for the ramp at Lake Louise being too steep.

The last action item before hearing the planning and finance report was an update from the planning board, which was seeking the council’s direction. According to the agenda, the planning board asked for “Consider regulations that encourage open space or greenway dedication, conservation measures”. The Planning Board’s discussions on this topic have evolved to consider requiring all residential development.

After a lengthy discussion, the board was split over which approach to use – initiatives or regulations. They chose to put the matter off until a later date.