July was a quiet month for city business, with most City Council actions dealing with routine and relatively non-controversial matters.
"Big box" retail development moratorium: The temporary moratorium on approval of new large-scale retail developments was extended for a second 90-day period, through September 20. The extension was made to give members of the City Council time for further review of a proposed set of changes to the standards applicable to such developments. The Planning Board has recommended a package of new standards. The Council will hold a workshop to discuss questions about that proposal (called UDO 118—Large Scale Retail Development). The workshop will be held Monday, August 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the Committee Room on the second floor of City Hall. (This is not a new hearing for public comments but is open to the public to observe the discussion.)
Railroad crossings: Here’s good news on an item that many people have asked about. Repairs on the several street railroad crossings in the Southwest Ward are finally underway by Norfolk Southern Railroad contractors. Street crossings to be fixed include (from west to east) Bethesda, Westview, Knollwood, Oakwood, and Miller. Maintenance of street railroad crossings is under the legal control of the railroad, and the City has been pressing Norfolk Southern to get them fixed for some time now.
City position cuts: Following a month’s careful review, the city manager in late July announced the $750,000 in city staff position cuts which had been ordered by the City Council as a budget-cutting measure. A total of 18 mid-level positions will be eliminated. About half of these are currently filled. Staff members whose jobs are eliminated will receive severance pay and the chance to apply for other vacant city jobs for which they are qualified. A full listing of positions affected is available from the City Manager’s office. These cuts are part of the Council’s efforts to reduce city tax revenue requirements.
Planes, trains, and automobiles (also bikes, feet, and vans): Have comments on what the Winston-Salem metropolitan area needs in the way of transportation system improvements? Now’s your chance to give them to representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Come out on Wednesday, August 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a public hearing in the 2nd Floor Planning Dept. Conference Room in City Hall South.
National Night Out: All Winston-Salem residents are invited to join Neighborhood Watch Groups and the Winston-Salem Police Department for the 2004 edition of the annual National Night Out on August 3rd. On this night every year, neighborhoods turn on their lights and celebrate community crime prevention efforts. The event will kick off at 6 p.m. with a citywide mayoral proclamation at the historic Shell Station at 1111 E. Sprague Street, and continue until 9 p.m. with activities at 20 sites around the city. Activities are planned in the Southwest Ward at Healy Towers (2450 Healy Drive), First Church of Christ (205 Keating Drive), and Wesley Memorial Methodist Church (1210 Bolton Street). Come out to one or more of the events, even if you don’t live in their immediate area, and learn how to arrange one for your part of our neighborhoods next year.