While noting continuing problems downtown from trucks parked in the street during deliveries, Mount Airy officials have decided that dealing with them is part of a larger concern.
This led to the board of commissioners voting Thursday afternoon to form a traffic and parking safety committee to address various issues including the truck-delivery problem. Others will include improving handicapped accessibility and addressing personnel of downtown businesses parking in spaces that should be reserved for customers, based on concerns earlier raised.
The truck problem has been a matter of discussion for both city officials and merchants in recent weeks, stemming from complaints by some of the commissioners about safety hazards and inconveniences posed to other motorists as well as pedestrians.
At any given time during the day, one or more trucks will be parked on North Main Street for deliveries, requiring other motorists to veer into the opposite lane of the one-way route and sometimes blocking in vehicles parked in designated spaces.
Commissioner Jon Cawley said Thursday that on one day last week, he noticed multiple trucks waiting in the same lane, which he estimated spanned more than 20 parking spaces and likely blocked in someone.
But the motivation for imposing restrictions, such as limiting deliveries to certain hours or requiring them in loading zones or other designated areas, seemed to be diminished by a public hearing last month on the issue. Ten people, including merchants and a truck driver, said then that any such rules would cause a hardship for drivers and possibly jeopardize important shipments getting through.
That led to Thursday’s meeting and the formation of a committee that will examine an array of downtown concerns in addition to truck deliveries.
“Over the years, it’s caused some delay and inconvenience to the citizens — but usually just for a few minutes,” Commissioner Dean Brown said Thursday in suggesting that a less than hard-line approach was in order.
The committee the board subsequently approved will contain Commissioner Scott Graham, the board member who’s been most concerned about the truck deliveries, and others. They include representatives of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, Downtown Mount Airy Inc. and Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority.
In proposing a group of only about five members, Graham said he believed it would ensure a more efficient body.
“I just want to keep it small,” he said, “because the bigger it gets the less we’re going to get done.”
The board did agree with a recommendation by Commissioner Shirley Brinkley to add a city police representative to the new group, in an advisory capacity only, since matters of traffic and public safety will be involved.
Officials say the committee will discuss and identify various traffic issues affecting the downtown section and develop solutions and improvements.
Graham said he hopes headway will be made by December.
He explained that the underlying need for committee involvement is to enhance what already is a great downtown area to keep it a vital destination for tourists and local shoppers.
Rezoning Hearing Set
Also Thursday afternoon, the city commissioners voted to hold a public hearing at their next meeting concerning a rezoning request for property at 251 Old Ridge Road, located off Riverside Drive.
Owners Lane D. Edwards and Tonya W. Edwards are asking that the city change the zoning of the one-acre site from a residential classification to B-2 (General Business).
This is sought to accommodate an expanded auto body repair and paint shop there.
A petition signed by other property owners in the area who support the rezoning was submitted to city officials with documents related to the request.
The public hearing is set for the board’s next meeting on Nov. 15, which begins at 7 p.m.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.