Mount Airy officials are considering a property purchase near the city Public Works Department on East Pine Street to alleviate safety and vehicle-related issues there.
The Public Works Department has been at that location since the late 1970s, and the amount of equipment there has expanded over the years to accommodate increased responsibilities with sanitation, street maintenance and other functions.
“This facility has become crowded and the lack of maneuverability has become a safety issue,” Public Works Director Jeff Boyles wrote in a recent memo to City Manager Barbara Jones. Boyles also cited another problem with vehicles:
“All the trash trucks and most dump trucks sit outside all the time, shortening their life,” he added. “Over time I would hope the department could install shelter for them.”
Mount Airy officials have been limited in their ability to provide more space for the public works department because its facility at 440 E. Pine St. is “landlocked” between the Ararat River, a housing subdivision and the roadway.
However, a solution could be put into motion today during a 7 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
It concerns a proposal to acquire a vacant 2.31-acre parcel of land adjoining the public works property on East Pine Street.
The property in question recently was donated to First Baptist Church of Mount Airy, which is interested in selling it, according to Boyles.
Its tax value is $79,700 and when put on the market several years ago the land was listed at more than $200,000, his memo states. However, the church has agreed to a purchase price of $50,000. Boyles is recommending a total allocation of $55,000 to cover that cost and miscellaneous expenses including a survey and an environmental study.
“This is the only option for additional space if the department is to stay in this location,” the public works director pointed out in the memo.
He explained Wednesday that the land eyed for purchase is immediately adjacent to the public works property, and is an empty grassed lot behind the buildings housing Brenda’s Kountry Kitchen, Suntan Magic and the South Main day-care operation. It adjoins the Weddle’s Transmission property and a car lot to the west.
Boyles says no one at the department can remember the site being anything other than a vacant lot.
At tonight’s meeting, the commissioners will consider whether the property acquisition should proceed and if so, approving an amendment to the city’s recently adopted 2018-2019 budget to provide the $55,000.
Also at the meeting, two public hearings are scheduled.
One concerns a rezoning request for a 3.1-acre site at 1018 Rockford St., which is being proposed for a local outlet of Harbor Freight Tools, a discount tool and equipment retailer. That is the former location of Creek Bottom Brewing, a restaurant and microbrewery business which closed in December.
The site is zoned M-1 (Industrial), which does not permit retail uses. Mount Airy officials are being asked to rezone the property to B-2 (General Business).
It is owned by Bray Properties, LLC of Mount Airy.
The other public hearing concerns proposed amendments to the Mount Airy Zoning Ordinance. Changes are eyed which affect accessory buildings and structures, the replacement of mobile homes, bed and breakfast inns, multi-family dwellings and additional categories.
Later during tonight’s meeting, after citizens have had the chance to weigh in on the two proposals, the commissioners are scheduled to vote on both.
Other agenda items
Among additional business at the meeting, the commissioners are slated to:
• Discuss extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) zoning at the request of Commissioner Shirley Brinkley. It is a controversial provision in local regulations giving Mount Airy zoning authority over a one-mile area encircling the city limits.
ETJ zoning has been targeted for elimination on multiple occasions in recent years, but has continued to have the support of the majority of council members.
• Entertain an easement request to allow an outdoor patio in a public area downtown known as Canteen Alley.
• Be updated on an erosion issue affecting property on Inman Circle.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.