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City gives church OK to remove parking spaces

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Salisbury City Council gave its blessing Tuesday to First United Methodist Church’s request to remove up to six on-street parking spaces in the 100 block of West Fisher Street.
The church needed the go-ahead sign from the council as it readies site plans for a church expansion. Those plans must go before the Historic Preservation Commission and the city’s Technical Review Committee.
Removal of parking spaces on the south side of the 100 block of West Fisher Street would help accommodate the church’s plans for a semi-circular drive on that side, where three buildings were removed in June 2006.
Dave Collins, representing First United Methodist, submitted a petition to remove the parking spaces that was signed by seven out of nine property owners in the block.
The petition included signatures of support from all the businesses in that block that are currently in operation.
Randy Hemann, executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc., noted that 10 on-street spaces were added in this same block a couple of years ago. Those additions would help make up for the loss of any on-street spaces needed next to the church, he noted.
Councilman Mark Lewis said he was comfortable with the church’s request as long as the existing businesses elsewhere on the block were OK with it.
Councilman Bill Burgin asked whether at least two on-street spaces between the entry and exit to the semi-circular drive could be saved and made available to the public Monday through Saturday.
Collins said if the spaces could be saved it would not inconvenience the church.
By consensus, the council approved the removal of parking spaces, with the stipulation that Downtown Salisbury Inc.’s parking committee investigate whether two spaces can be saved and that be included as an option.
In another traffic matter, the council agreed with a staff recommendation that the Pearl Street railroad crossing remain open and unchanged.
The N.C. Department of Transportation had asked the city to allow the at-grade crossing to be closed or signalized. The city had the choice to accept or decline those options.
If the crossing were not closed, the state offered to install automatic warning devices on Pearl Street. The city would have been responsible for 10 percent of the cost for installing the signals, or about $16,900.
The city’s annual maintenance cost would have been an additional $1,290.
With that offer, Davis Street and Tower Drive would have stayed opened but unimproved. Those streets also cross the tracks.
Pearl Street is the most utilized of the three crossings in this area of Salisbury off Morlan Park Road.
This leg of the Yadkin Railroad has six trains a day, traveling at a maximum speed of 25 mph.
Traffic Engineer Wendy Brindle said city files showed no history of accidents at any of the three crossings.
In 2005, state officials made a similar request, but residents said then they wished to have all three crossings remain open.
Brindle noted that closing Pearl Street would not eliminate “vehicle/train exposure.” Instead, vehicles would be forced to use either Tower Drive or Davis Street, neither of which has cross arms.
In other city business, the council:
– Approved a taxi franchise for Rosetta Nance, who will operate her cab, a 1998 Plymouth Voyager, under the umbrella of Safety Taxi.
Nance inherited part of Safety Taxi owned by her father, Joseph Moss, and wishes to continue under her name.
– Approved on second reading a 2008-2009 community development budget of $483,295. From the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city expects to receive a $365,040 Community Development Block Grant and $118,255 in HOME funds as part of the program.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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