Canton's hasty decision left unanswered questions

Jul 19, 2014

Sometimes when we act hastily to solve a problem, we fail to consider that the solution could possibly trigger another problem or even make an existing problem worse.

It seems that is exactly what could have happened in Canton last week in their haste to address safety concerns raised by residents on Johnson Street.

Those familiar with the large curve on Pisgah Drive near The Community Kitchen can easily understand the plight of residents entering the area from Locust, Holtzclaw and Johnson streets. Motorists often travel faster than they should along that stretch, and sight distance is a problem.

Johnson Street residents are rightfully concerned that parking alongside the Black Bear Transmission and Automotive causes motorists exiting the street to veer into the opposite lane of traffic. But it appears nobody has carefully considered is the impact of sight distance if customers of the business are forced to park on the business property edge close to heavily traveled Pisgah Drive.

A pickup or van legally parked on the property could pose an even greater safety hazard because it would obstruct vision onto a much busier street where speeds are much higher than on a dead end street where people routinely veer into the opposing lane of traffic because streetside parking is the norm.

In less than a week after neighbors complained about the safety issues, the Canton governing board directed its staff to call a special meeting so they could amend an ordinance and stop the business owner or his customers park on the street.

The mayor and one alderman had plans to be out of town when the meeting was held, and the town’s new attorney from Asheville hadn’t bothered to  drive by the site so he could answer even simple questions about the situation.  Town employees didn’t know whether it would be possible to address the thorny issue of where the business owner could and could not park on his leased property.

The three board members at Wednesday’s meeting decided it was best to act quickly as opposed to acting deliberately.

The situation is a difficult one and all involved have valid concerns. Let’s hope the hasty solution reached by three of the five town’s governing board members is not one that only makes things worse.

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