By Clint Parker
Weaverville – The Town Council of Weaverville met for its regular meeting on Monday evening (Nov. 18), where parking was a central topic of discussion.
However, not before the newly re-elected council members were sworn in to start the council meeting. The swearing-in marked the beginning of a new four-year term for three of the council members (see picture page 10). Councilmember Doug Jackson was also selected by the members of the board to serve once again as vice-mayor.
After the oaths of office were administered, the council got down to business approving the agenda for the evening and recognizing a Weaverville ABC Board member for their service (see picture page 10) then moved right to the consent agenda, as there was no one signed up for public comment.
The board passed the consent agenda, which included the monthly tax report, a tax release of about $25,000, the appointment of a new member to the ABC Board (Tonia Sheppard), and a budget amendment for the Cops 4 Kids and Pink Patch projects.
In the manager’s report, Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey updated the council on the status of the new Lake Louise Community Center where she said that a steering committee for the community center (composed of Mayor Al Root, and residents Lou Accornero and Thomas Veasey) and staff met with architects at the end of October. During this meeting, the architects updated the group on their most recent work and plan to announce the project for bids this month.
She also told the council that a collaboration with Buncombe County on Solar RFP was continuing in the town, preparing to send information gathered on the town-owned existing roof systems. The town has also submitted an application to Tree City USA for this year’s recertification as a Tree City USA town.
The board then got to the discussion and action items, of which the first was the Main Street Advisory Group, which had been added to the agenda under the mayor’s direction earlier in the meeting. Under that topic, parking was the main subject. According to Root, the group has been tasked with “…how we go about living on Main Street.” He asked how that issue supports the town’s businesses and the community’s usage of the street.
From there, Root turned it over to Councilman Jeff McKenna, who told those at the meeting that the group had met twice, calling the meetings “good and very collaborative.” He then moved onto what the local business association sees as a problem on Main Street and that was parking. McKenna then turned it over to Coffey to talk about parking and the policy surrounding parking on Main Street.
Coffey talked about making parking time uniform throughout the town, getting the approval of any changes on Main Street signage from the state, since Main Street is a state-maintained road, and changes to the signage for the town’s parking area along with parking enforcement.
She further explained the town is looking at re-striping the parking lot located between Weaverville Healthwise Pharmacy and Brown’s Florist and adding parking along Main Street down toward the primary school and the residential area. She said that the town met with the state department of transportation (DOT) about adding parking at the school, about five to six spaces, but none from the school parking exit to Brown Street as parents line up there to pick their children up. She additionally said DOT was working on an agreement that while Main Street is a state-maintained road that the town would be responsible for striping parking on it.
Coffey then turned the presentation over to Weaverville Public Works Director Dale Pennell for information that came out of a meeting with DOT. Pennell said that the first thing DOT wanted to know was if the town had publicized or questioned residents from Brown Street south about striping for public parking, to which Pennell said no they had not.
“They said their past experience…with marking business-related parking spaces, in a residential neighborhood, has not been very well received,” Pennell informed the board. He then pointed out, if striped, no one would be able to park closer than 25 feet to a driveway, on either side, dramatically limiting available parking from what currently exists.
Councilman Andrew Nagle had a problem with using the residential part of the street as parking for businesses and with police ticketing and towing vehicles. He believes part of the problem stemmed from business employees parking for long periods in public parking.
Mayor Root then spoke of his troubles of trying to rent his old law offices on the street and the limitations of the police when it came to enforcement of parking violations. “We got a major parking problem,” said Root and gave several recommendations on trying to solve it, part of which he said was enforcement.
Councilwoman Dottie Sherrill added that she’d received complaints of parking on Central Ave. Further discussion continued from other council members in which McKenna stated, “It’s a limited resource that we’re always going to have [a problem with]. As it gets more popular, it’s only logical we have some way of enforcement.” Coffey proposed coming back to the board with recommendations, but no action was taken during the meeting.
The board then heard from Travis Keever with the town’s accounting firm about the annual audit and from Rob Chason, Chairman of the ABC Board, about the ABC audit, where he commented, “It’s becoming a nice little profit center for the town.”
The town also approved a new lease for a cell tower on town property for a monthly amount of $16,413, which the council learned was about double the regular monthly lease payment. The board also approved a major subdivision at 108 Church Street and heard quarterly reports from the fire and police departments.