Here’s a look at some highlights from Monday’s full meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council.
- A resolution honoring the Winston-Salem Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction, INC was approved.
- A resolution honoring the city’s SOAR, Successful Outcomes After Release Program was approved. More job programs are needed to reintegrate ex-prisoners back into society. SOAR received 120 applications for the eight slots available in the program.
- Ordnance renaming a disconnected section of Maple Street to Earline Parmon Drive passed unanimously. Earline Parmon is thought of highly in Winston. She was a fighter, her progressive voice is missed in our community. Mayor Joines told members of Mrs. Parmon’s family, “we miss her every day.”
- Ordinance putting Winston’s last downtown strip club on the clock passed 7-1. The owner of Expressions will have until December 31, 2019 to run his adult establishment as he sees fit. But in three years time there won’t be any more adult clubs in Downtown Winston. This is a major policy shift on the part of the mayor and the Winston-Salem City Council. They have been aggressively trying for over a year to have Downtown Winston’s last strip club closed under nuisance laws. I don’t like strip clubs, but I didn’t approve of the city targeting an individual business owner. Councilman Jeff Macintosh summed up the city’s gentler approach by saying, “this is not a taking of property…not an eminent domain.” Councilwoman Denise Adams said that cities change. “The city of Winston-Salem is a brand.” She voiced what the rest of the city council was thinking, The strip club is just too close to the convention center and upscale condos on Trade Street for the council’s liking.
- Rolling Hills multi-family housing revenue bonds were approved by the city council. This process has dragged on for weeks now. Though the city will not be obligated to repay the bonds, the law stipulates that the city must approve them being issued. The new owners of Rolling Hills will be investing over $40,000 per unit at the property. Councilwoman Vivian Burke asked how the city can keep the new owners of Rolling Hills accountable? After all, as Burke pointed out this is the same process that New Hope Manor Apartments went through years ago. A Steele Properties representative assured the council that it is not a buy and flip company. They are making a long-term investment in Rolling Hills and they’ll make sure the property is maintained if for no other reason than to ensure that their investment doesn’t rapidly depreciate.
- JoAnne Allen criticized the city council during the public comments portion of the meeting for letting Rolling Hills decline to the point where it’s almost uninhabitable today. Allen spoke of “all the ills at Rolling Hills.” A former resident of Rolling Hills echoed Allen’s criticism. City Manager Lee Garrity replied to Allen’s criticism by pointing out that HAWS is independent of the mayor and the city council. Councilwoman Burke stated that “the hands of the city are tied.” HAWS does the inspections, not the city.