June 5, 2018

The Winston-Salem City Council Merry-Go-Round: June 4, 2018

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Monday’s city council meeting was brief. In just over an hour the Winston-Salem City Council meeting ended. That’s the Allen Joines’ machine at work. Little debate, no contentious arguments, and no public comment-except where prescribed by law! That’s what rule by the rich looks like in Winston!

The principal topic before the council Monday was a zoning petition in Ardmore. A developer wanted to convert a former goat farm on the corner of Ebert and Silas Creek into a townhome/office development. The matter was debated at last month’s city council meeting, without resolution.

When the city council’s agenda includes agenda items pertaining to Ardmore, the Ardmorians come out in droves. That was certainly the case Monday night. The council chambers were full and overflowing.

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All the anti-development activists of Ardmore present at City Hall last night had a champion in Northwest Ward Councilmember Dan Besse. Besse gave a very nuanced explanation for his opposition to the development. Traffic and the encroachment of non-residential development in Ardmore were Besse’s main problems with the development.

Besse told the council that the core question is whether or not to allow commercial, non-residential uses on this site? Besse stated that based on the neighborhood feedback that he received the neighborhood was 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 in opposition to the development.

Besse reminded the council that twenty years ago the north side of Ardmore battled encroachment. Besse insisted that the council shouldn’t refuse to resist encroachment on Ardmore’s south side today.

Besse essentially said, keep Ardmore “residential today, residential tomorrow, residential forever!”

Besse’s fellow councilmembers weren’t all swayed by his arguments.

Robert Clark stated that he felt the development was a reasonable compromise. He rejected the domino theory argument that residents were making, that this development was a threat to all of Ardmore. Clark said, “there is no better neighbor than an office building.” Office workers are quiet and leave at 6 p.m. each day.

MacIntosh echoed Clark’s comments. Vivian Burke, and D.D. Adams were silent during the debate. But they all voted in support of development on Ebert.

Voting with Dan Besse in opposition to the development were, John Larson, Derwin Montgomery, and James Taylor.

The 4-4 tie was broken by Winston-Salem mayor and Winston-Salem Alliance president, Allen Joines. Joines voted with Besse, against the development, saying “I tend to support the representative of the ward…”

That he does, since Joines was elected mayor over 15 years ago, he’s ruled the city council with an emphasis on consensus. He supports individual council members and expects them to support his agenda in return.

I’m no friend of developers, but I think the proposed development at the corner of Ebert and Silas Creek was reasonable. It was not the danger to all of Ardmore that many maintained it was.

The Ardmore Neighborhood Association, in my opinion, was defending its property values from a non-existent threat.

It would have been better if homeowners were pushing the city council to purchase the land for a public purpose or to keep the property as a family farm.

There is less undeveloped land in Forsyth County each day. Family farms like the property at the corner of Ebert and Silas Creek have virtually disappeared. Maintaining the property as an urban farm or a public park would be ideal.




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