Monday’s meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council was a good example of how our City Council serves Winston’s wealthiest, well-connected few. All of the items on the City Council’s agenda were approved unanimously, without any dissenting votes. Think about that; not a single dissenting vote was cast in a meeting that lasted well over an hour. One could argue that the mayor and councilmembers were simply agreeing on zoning measures and a relatively modest incentive deal with a local manufacturer. But Allen Joines and his compliant councilmembers were rubber-stamping developer’s prerogatives, while largely ignoring the concerns of the working class.
Here’s a summary of the Winston-Salem City Council’s August 3, 2020 meeting:
- The former Gold’s Gym on Reynolda Road was rezoned without opposition.
- The rezoning of a property on North Trade Street was a little more complicated. The petition was initially rejected by the City/County Planning Board. But, Industry Hill, LLC (Hank Perkins) resubmitted their request to the City Council with modifications that the Planning Board insisted upon. Namely, they agreed that the property should not be developed into a convenience store-an option that generated some neighborhood opposition. Here’s Wesley Young’s summary, “The Trade Street property is the Comb’s Produce Co. warehouse at 850 N. Trade. Street. The property is owned by IH850 Trade LLC, one of businessman Hank Perkins’ companies. That company and another Perkins concern, Industry Hill Properties LLC, asked for the rezoning granted Monday to change the space from industrial to entertainment district uses.” Architect Doug Stimmel stated that $24 million had been invested in ‘Industry Hill’ to date and that developers anticipated spending $55 million in the neighborhood over the next 36 months. Stimmel didn’t mention if any of the $55 million was going to be spent on affordable housing. An area that used to house the City’s water reservoir has become Winston’s beer district, from the Pond to beer gardens. The Pond was a predominately Black neighborhood before Urban Renewal erased it. New Bethel Baptist and Union Baptist churches are all that remains of a historic neighborhood that was known as the Pond. Building affordable housing at ‘Industry Hill’ would be a fitting way to honor that neighborhood’s past.
- A minor parking issue at 492 West End Blvd was resolved.
- The Mayor’s Council unanimously approved UDO-CC1. Mayor Pro Tempore, D.D. Adams called the pro-density measure “a good start” as the City pivots to encourage denser development in the future.
- The Mayor’s Council enthusiastically approved giving $203,904 in economic development
assistance to Purple Crow/La Tortilleria, LLC. The City’s assistance is based upon an amount equal to approximately 50% of the net, new property taxes generated by the project over its first five years. I don’t have anything against the Purple Crow, but they are making a mockery of the local incentive game. Typically, a local business comes to the City Council and County Commissioners, hat in hand, asking for help financing an expansion. They then receive funds for creating jobs. But an important element of the incentive game is the implicit threat that if our local officials don’t fund their expansion, then they will relocate. But since the Purple Crow is already in the process of expanding their facility, they can’t threaten to relocate. They obviously have the funds for their expansion without the City’s support. Instead of giving $200k to a Latinx business, wouldn’t it be better to invest in Winston’s Latinx community? Two hundred thousand dollars could fund a community center in the City’s Southeast Ward. Southeast Plaza, a shopping center that the City has showered with subsidies, would be an excellent location for a community center to aid and support our Latinx neighbors.
- The Mayor’s Council closed an unnamed alley off of North Liberty Street. MAP - N Liberty Alley Closure
- The Mayor’s Council approved the annexation of nearly 3 acres of property off Temple School Road (just past the Catipallar plant) without any discussion, debate, or even an explanation. Front Street Capital’s request to have their property annexed (thus providing them city services) was not discussed or debated by the Public Works Committee before it reached the full City Council. Mayor and Winston-Salem Alliance President, Allen Joines didn’t recuse himself or explain his connection to Front Street Capital. Front Street Captial purchased the property that they wanted to be annexed from Winston-Salem Business Inc. Winston-Salem Business Inc. is a non-profit that receives generous funding from the City to promote economic development. Winston-Salem Business Inc. is also an affiliate of the Winston-Salem Alliance.* The Winston-Salem Alliance pays Mayor Allen Joines’s salary and they set the City’s agenda. The Alliance is a highly secretive union of business leaders, developers, and non-profits. Supposedly, the Alliance and W-S Business are operating in the City’s best interests. In reality, they operate in the interests of the members of the Winston-Salem Alliance. At a minimum, we deserved more disclosure from the City on this one.
- Approximately 150.6 Acres located off of Mizpah Church Road (Long Creek Village) were annexed.
- After approving all the zoning resolutions, the Mayor’s Council approved the Mayor’s nominations for vacancies on his various advisory boards.
- Then after meeting in closed session, the Mayor’s Council adjourned, without hearing comments from the general public. They made no mention of the current eviction crisis accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
*W-S Business affiliates with Alliance, Aug 26, 2011. Triad Business Journal