North Main Street plan accepted

By Mary Ann Enloe | Dec 03, 2013

No businesses showed up at last week's Waynesville town board meeting to weigh in on the North Main Street Complete Streets Study presented by Mark Teague of J. M. Teague Traffic Engineering.

That troubled Mayor Gavin Brown.

"It just bothers me that other than Bill Norris, the property owners and business owners aren't here," said Brown after hearing from several avid bicyclists who support the plan.

Norris spoke at the Nov. 12 portion of the public hearing and opposed the proposed comprehensive road changes.

Cecil Yount, president of "Haywood Bicyclists," was first to the microphone Tuesday night.

"Charlie's Place was yesterday, Duvall's is today, and now it's time to look to the future," Yount said. He was referring to the iconic brick restaurant which would have to be torn down to make way for the plan's broad connector leading from North Main Street to a T-intersection and traffic light on Walnut Street between Vance and Bridge Streets. Other businesses would also have to move. A revamped intersection would include bike lanes and 1,000 feet of sidewalk.

Last year Waynesville received a grant from the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO, to study how the pie-shaped intersection near the new Waynesville fire station could be improved for all modes of transportation. Town staff recommended to the governing board that they adopt the completed plan as presented by Teague so that the project may be added to the N.C. Department of Transportation Improvement Plan to be in line for funding within the next 20 to 30 years.

Alderman Leroy Roberson is Waynesville's delegate to the MPO and said he wants to "...get the process started. It can always be changed, or even pulled. But we need to get on the list."

The mayor said he'd like to see the board "slow down and let this cook awhile," stating that he was afraid businesses out that way didn't realize what an impact such a change would make.

"This is a brand new project. We talked about the South Main Street project (the intersection at Hyatt Creek Road) more than 15 years before it was done. Everybody had a say in it, and I'm afraid that's not the case here," he said.

Town Manager Marcy Onieal told the board that letters had been sent to businesses in the area before J. M. Teague Traffic Engineering finalized its recommendations but conceded that sometimes businesses see a form letter about something which may or may not happen years in the future and just disregard it.

Alderman Wells Greeley said, "We owe it to the businesses to let them know that we really are considering this and they need to look at how it would impact them in years to come."

Brown said, "What I'd like to see this board do is accept the plan as presented, but not adopt it yet. Let's get it out there and make sure everybody has a say in it."

Roberson made the motion to instruct town staff to present to the mayor and board of aldermen a process which makes sure businesses and property owners have the opportunity to be involved. The vote passed unanimously.

"As I said, I'll feel a lot better if we just cook this a while longer," said the mayor as he closed the public hearing.