There are indications a public hearing Thursday night on truck deliveries in downtown Mount Airy could be contentious, but city officials are hoping everyone approaches the issue with an open mind.
The specific goal of that hearing, scheduled during a 7 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, is soliciting citizen input on whether those deliveries should be limited for safety and other reasons. Presently, drivers of large trucks are allowed to block lanes of travel at any time of the day, which hampers traffic flow and causes inconveniences as well as hazards, critics say.
But a side issue might be involved Thursday as well: the notion that a proposal targeting deliveries is indicative of an anti-business sentiment among the commissioners.
Commissioner Jon Cawley, one of the five board members who has been most vocal about the need to regulate the deliveries, believes some speakers at the hearing will address that charge — though it is unfounded.
“I can’t imagine a commissioner being anti-business,” Cawley said Monday in anticipation of Thursday night’s hearing. Yet he also hopes downtown merchants will understand that some action is needed regarding the deliveries.
On Oct. 4, when the board held a discussion leading to this week’s hearing being scheduled, Cawley had said the board should not necessarily be concerned about the opinions of the business community since a public safety issue is involved.
He reiterated that Monday in saying the matter should be viewed more in the context of a consideration for police rather than merchants. “This is a traffic issue,” Cawley said in stressing the difference.
“I hope any change that we make won’t be detrimental to business,” he added.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Dean Brown is hoping Thursday’s hearing will be a forum for positive solutions surrounding the delivery problem.
“Most of the merchants want something done, but don’t want to risk their business and they don’t want to disrupt their deliveries — and I understand that,” Brown said Monday.
At the Oct. 4 meeting, he suggested an alternative solution to an earlier proposal to limit the deliveries to early mornings or late afternoons. Brown’s idea would involve allowing trucks to park on side streets adjoining North Main Street for deliveries.
“Just listening to what everybody has to say,” is Brown’s main objective concerning the hearing. “I’ve had four or five people tell me they were coming to speak.”
Brown said those participating in the hearing could offer compromise solutions that would address everyone’s concerns.
“Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem,” he said, “so we have to be careful about that.”
Cawley said he also looks forward to hearing the points of view offered by speakers.
“So we will listen to what they say, and I feel comfortable this board will take it all in and act accordingly.”
Among additional business Thursday night, the city board of commissioners will:
• Be updated on the Edgewood Place apartment complex by Craig Stone of Wynnefield Properties, a Jamestown firm planning the 56-unit development on Edgewood Drive near Walmart;
• Hear an update from the president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Todd Tucker;
• Consider a transfer of property at North Main and West Oak streets;
• Discuss and possibly act on the proposed construction of a mausoleum at the city-owned Oakdale Cemetery;
• Consider resolutions making appointments to both the Mount Airy Planning Board and a new city recycling advisory committee;
• Recognize Cross Creek Country Club;
• Conduct a public forum during which citizens can speak on miscellaneous city government topics.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.