Boundaries drawn for timber plan

By Tom Joyce

August 21, 2014

No lines have been drawn in the sand, but lines have been drawn in the woods — at least on paper, as Mount Airy officials prepare to sell timber at the city-owned Westwood Industrial Park.

After months of debate on that issue, it might finally be resolved by the city board of commissioners during a 7 p.m. meeting today.

A vote on launching the logging process was delayed at the board’s last meeting on Aug. 7, reflecting a belief among the majority of members that specific details needed to be outlined first. The city’s engineering unit was then tasked to develop a map showing the areas where trees are proposed to be cut, which the commissioners will consider tonight.

The boundaries resulting seem to reflect a plan that maximizes the harvest while lessening the impact of the timbering process on nearby residents.

Under the concept prepared, about 65 of the targeted 102-acre site at the end of Boggs Drive in the industrial park would be harvested.

This includes a stretch of forest along North Franklin Road. However, the plan envisions tree buffers being left on all other sides of the tract, including a 200-foot buffer along property lines of adjoining homes. A buffer of at least 100 feet would remain around any streams on the property.

The plan to be considered by the commissioners calls for no timbering on the north and east sides of streams.

A resolution prepared for the timber project further includes recommendations from a local forestry expert to reseed, mulch and fertilize all bare ground left behind and the replanting or reseeding of some areas with loblolly pines and mixed hardwoods.

Also, all skid roads would be repaired after the logging ends.

The plan also calls for no grading for a site pad at the park, a side item that has been considered in discussions regarding the logging there. A local economic-development official has said there is a need for such open space to help attract new industry.

Under the proposal, city staff members would be authorized to meet with Brian Elam, a local member of the N.C. Forest Service, to begin the timbering process.

Public Hearing

Also during tonight’s council meeting, a public hearing is scheduled regarding the proposed rezoning of property at 1223 W. Lebanon St.

Dr. Clark Fincher, a veterinarian with an office nearby, is seeking to have the .57-acre site rezoned from R-4 (residential and office) to the B-2 (general business) classification.

Fincher wants to buy the adjoining property, which now contains a house and land, from the estate of Arlean Gwyn Cook and possibly use it as office space and to enlarge the veterinary hospital’s parking area, city documents show. It also could provide a location for hauling in larger animals for treatment and eventually the placement of a barn-type structure for such animals.

However, there would be no overnight hospitalization of them and only day treatment, documents show.

Andy Goodall, a city planner, says the petitioner wants the site in question to have the same business zoning as his existing facility, so that it would not have to be changed in the event of such expansion.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.