The city of Mount Airy’s aerial fire truck is getting to be a popular piece of equipment with neighboring localities — at least on paper.
Concerns about potential emergencies at Flat Rock Elementary School, site of a 1957 blaze that caused multiple fatalities, and White Plains Elementary have prompted requests from the communities’ volunteer fire departments to have Mount Airy’s truck available there if needed.
The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will consider proposed dispatch agreements with both departments during a meeting that begins today at 2 p.m.
In other business this afternoon, the board is expected to act on three separate rezoning requests, one linked to the construction of a 56-unit apartment complex for senior citizens on West Virginia Street.
Aerial Truck Pacts
Both the Four-Way Volunteer Fire Department, which covers Flat Rock, and the White Plains Volunteer Fire Department are seeking agreements for the aerial, or ladder, truck’s service in order to increase their fire-suppression capabilities. Neither department has such a vehicle, which is helpful in fires at taller or larger structures such as hospitals, schools or hotels.
Mount Airy acquired its 100-foot platform truck in 2011, which replaced an older vehicle that had become unreliable. Before that, the city had to depend on a ladder truck coming from Winston-Salem if needed.
Although the proposed agreements with Four-Way and White Plains specifically refer to the presence of the two elementary schools, they also state that the ladder truck could be dispatched to other areas within their response districts.
In both cases, if the city vehicle is needed for a particular emergency, an official of the volunteer department involved would request that through the Surry County Central Communications Center. At that point, the Mount Airy fire chief, or other designated person, would determine whether the truck could be made available.
Such requests would be honored only if they do not impair the capacity to provide fire protection in the city limits, such as having to battle a simultaneous blaze there.
A similar pact for aerial truck service was approved in January for the Franklin Volunteer Fire Department, which has four schools in its response district.
The three rezoning requests to be considered at today’s meeting include one involving a 5.4-acre site at 191 West Virginia St. in the Toast community.
A Greensboro firm, Weaver-Kirkland Development, is seeking to construct an apartment complex there, geared toward the 55-and-older age group. It is aimed at providing much-needed affordable housing to that segment of the local population, supporters have said.
The West Virginia Street property, a mostly wooded area with one single-family house that is unoccupied presently, is zoned R-20 (residential) and B-4 (Highway Business). Weaver-Kirkland, which has an option to buy the land, is asking that it be rezoned to R-6 (General Residential) to accommodate the apartments.
A company official has said the complex would have 29 one-bedroom and 27 two-bedroom units, and on-site amenities such as a computer room, gazebo, picnic shelter with tables, library and community center.
Only one negative comment was voiced about the plan during an April 18 public hearing, from a woman concerned about alleged drug activity in the West Virginia Street neighborhood and how it might impact the new housing.
• A second rezoning issue on today’s agenda relates to a half-acre site at 1592 W. Pine St. (N.C. 89) near Horizon Equipment. Lee Mills Construction Co., the property owner, has asked that its zoning be changed from a residential designation to B-4 (Highway Business). This would permit a shop to be built for cleaning, servicing, parking and displaying equipment of Horizon.
• The third request involves both the proposed annexation and rezoning of property at the intersection of Greenhill and Avondale roads at the northern end of town, from a residential designation to B-4 (Highway Business). The half-acre parcel is in the 100-block of Avondale Road at Greenhill Road, near U.S. 52. Owner Jack Snow has sought the changes to allow the property to be used commercially, although nothing has been announced regarding any specific business.
No opposition was voiced to the Mills and Snow requests at public hearings last month.
Among additional items at today’s meeting, the commissioners will:
• Consider approving a mission statement for the city, with the commissioners having received three options to weigh. While individual departments within the municipal government do have mission statements, the city itself lacks one. Pointing out that other municipalities have them, Commissioner Dean Brown — who has led the movement for one here — believes a mission statement will ensure that officials adhere to its core principles when making decisions.
• Vote on a policy for the public hearings that are held on various issues, which states that commissioners will not offer comments or respond to questions during those hearings. This seeks to ensure that the sessions will be solely for the purpose of gathering citizen input for consideration by board members, who later can discuss issues when action is taken. The new policy arose from confusion about whether board members should comment during public hearings, which did occur during a recent hearing regarding a proposed change in Mount Airy’s election procedure.
• Give special recognition to local radio station WPAQ.
• Conduct a public forum during which citizens may speak on any city government topic.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.