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Town addresses parking and flooding

Woodfin

By James Matthews

Woodfin – New rules dealing with parking at municipal properties and property owners who have tied into the culverts system along Weaverville Road were the main topics of discussion at a recent town meeting.

The Town of Woodfin held its monthly meeting on Tuesday evening (August 21). During the meeting, the board of aldermen discussed several issues, including parking rules and enforcement within the town, addressing the chronic flooding on sections of Weaverville Road, opposing ABC privatization and supporting a local Fall-time community gathering.

To begin the meeting there were a number of public commenters. The first was Marc Hunt, representing the Friends of the Woodfin Greenway. Hunt noted that the organization, which is helping the town by fundraising, would be holding an information session, called the White Water Wave Celebration, at the French Broad River Academy on October 3.

Next, town resident Harry Garfinkle approached the town to voice his concern about the state of Verde Drive. “When it rains, it’s a mud pit. When the rain evaporates, it’s a dust pit. I can’t keep my house clean, I can’t keep my driveway clean.” Town Administrator Jason Young explained that while the town is currently seeking bids for paving, due to the large amount of construction and the adverse weather, they have not been able to obtain the minimum number of bids necessary to proceed with any work. Young did acknowledge that the road is in bad shape and that it will likely be prioritized for paving.

To begin the formal meeting, Young presented a parking ordinance to the board. In which, he explained, “this ordinance would establish a public parking division,” whose purpose would be, “to provide convenient, safe, clean and accessible public parking for the selected areas of the town the board chooses to create both now and in the future.”

The ordinance establishes payment rules: “unless otherwise posted all municipal parking is metered 24 hours a day and people can pay hourly by whatever device or method accounted for at the time.” Public parking rules would be clearly posted at areas designated by the town and an honor box system would be established for payment. Failure to do so, per the new ordinance, could result in violators having their vehicles towed and/or fines imposed on them. An appeal system was also established as part of the ordinance. The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Asked after the meeting when people should look for parking meters to appear, Young stated they should not. The new parking rules would appear first at the new SilverLine Park (which is still in the planning phase) when it is built and would be paid through an honorary system, not meters. Young said the new parking ordinance is directed at the people from out of town using Woodfin facilities. It’s not right for Woodfin residents to pay all the costs, said Young.

The board then discussed the flooding issues the town has been facing along Weaverville Road. Mayor Jerry VeHaun stated “on the Weaverville Highway, on the Reynolds Mountain side, there are two, maybe three, drains that go under the road. Once they go under the road, the property owners have attached culverts to them and those culverts have more than likely collapsed. At least they’re stopped up. They may have to come out of there to solve the problem.”

While the town will be working with NC DOT and the US Army Corps of Engineers to find solutions, some of those solutions will be the responsibility of property owners. Due to the nature of the failed culverts causing a public safety hazard, the town may have to pursue legal action to ensure that these issues are dealt with.

“I think if it takes legal action, we need to do that.” Town Attorney Joe Ferikas added, “Since none of us are experts, we will be relying on the DOT to tell us what we need to do.” Young chimed in, stating “it’s been a problem since I came to work for the town, it’s always been a problem and DOT has never put adequate resources towards it. Then again, they can clean up their side and if runs from here to there, then we are no better.” VeHaun echoed, saying “if [DOT] cleans out the ditch line and the water has nowhere to go, then it’s going to just stay there.”

VeHaun concluded stating, “there are some people down there that own some of that property that are aware that they’ve got a liability and they don’t want to make it worse than what it is and this maybe the time to get them to do something.”

Moving on to another subject, Alderman Don Hensley reported to the rest of the board that the state legislature is discussing the possibilities of privatizing the ABC system throughout the state. “I think what’s happened here,” Hensley explained, “is the distributors’ rates have gone up for the last 13 years and it’s got everyone up in arms about the whole ABC deal.” To oppose the measure, the board agreed to contact NC State Representative Brian Turner to make their position known.

Mayor VeHaun explained that New Life Community Church is asking for the town’s assistance in holding its annual Fall Fest Community Event on September 13. The event would offer family-friendly fall themed activities. The Town was asked to contribute $800 and sponsor the inflatables. Proceeds of the event would go towards supporting the Woodfin Elementary PTO. The board of aldermen approved the contribution.

The town then heard the department reports, before reconvening in closed session. They adjourned soon after.

Editor’s note: Clint Parker contributed to this article.

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