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Spencer bans curbside mailboxes in historic district

SPENCER — Aldermen approved a change to the town’s ordinances this week that will ban curbside mailboxes in Spencer’s historic district, as well as along Salisbury Avenue from Jefferson Street south to 17th Street.
The decision stems from an ongoing disagreement with the U.S. Postal Service. Town leaders said in July they would like all mailboxes in the historic district to be on the house, not at the curb.
But about a year ago, the post office began requiring people who moved into the historic district to use a curbside mailbox. Aldermen protested, and Town Manager Larry Smith said at the time he has had a hard time getting a response from the post office.
Smith said town managers across the state were complaining about the same problem.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gobbel said in July he agreed with the proposal to ban curbside boxes but was concerned about the action possibly preventing residents from receiving their mail.
Town Attorney Rivers Lawther recommended going through the Planning Board and Historic Preservation Commission to show that mailboxes on the curb are incompatible with the town’s historic district.
Aldermen asked both those boards to review the issue in light of safety and traffic concerns, citizen complaints, aesthetics and historical inappropriateness, Smith said this week. Both boards recommended adopting the ban.
At its regular meeting, the Board of Aldermen also:
• Adopted an ordinance allowing the installation of Level 2 and 3 solar energy systems. They are now allowed in Highway, Industrial, and Interstate Business zoning districts by conditional and special use permits. An ordinance regarding installation of Level 1 solar energy systems was approved at the May meeting, and the Planning Board finished a study on Levels 2 and 3 last month, sending recommendation to the Board of Aldermen for adoption.
• Heard from Public Works Director Joel Taylor, who reminded citizens that the Fall Mulch Give-Away will be on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 7 a.m.. to noon. Mulch is free for town residents, but there is a fee for out-of-town residents. Delivery is available for Spencer residents only for a fee.
• Heard that trail markers have been installed on Rowan Avenue at the trailheads to Stanback Forest. A shop class at North Rowan High School helped make the markers.
• Gave Lori Yang permission to use Library Park for the Voices of Hope event on Sunday, Nov. 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This is the 13th annual fundraiser for the Michael Yang Foundation. The board thanked Yang for continuing to hold the event in Library Park each year.
• Adopted the town’s first Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The plan’s development began early this year. The town’s consultant on the plan, Derek Williams with Site Solutions, gave an overview of the work that went into the plan. It includes an assessment of the town’s parks and recreation facilities, and provides a 10-year projection of potential, recommended improvements that could be made.
• Approved the final map of proposed routes through Spencer to connect downtown, the N.C. Transportation Museum, Stanback Forest, adjoining municipalities and the Wil-Cox Bridge at the Yadkin River. Spencer has been working with Davidson Tourism, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Carolina Thread Trail on the plan and will get a full report on the Thread Trail initiative at its October meeting. The map approved this week is included in the town’s Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
During its work session before the regular meeting, the board met with town staff to discuss existing ordinances and services that enhance the town’s residential neighborhoods. At their March planning retreat, aldermen set a goal to study different “housing strategies” for continuing to improve the quality of life for town residents.
Land Management Director Katherine Clifton reviewed several codes in particular that relate to housing stock, especially minimum housing codes. Spencer’s existing ordinances are thorough enough to accomplish what legislation is intended to address with minimum housing issues, she said.
She noted some improvements that could potentially be made based upon her review of other codes. Consequently, the board’s consensus was for her to proceed with reviewing whether it would benefit Spencer to be able to declare housing that falls below minimum standards a public nuisance, and to have some type of registration program for boarded up houses (or vacant houses that may need to be boarded up).
Both Land Management and Spencer Police have had successful working relationships with the Salisbury Housing Authority. The board expressed interest in learning more about housing authorities’ roles in property management and housing issues. The next work session is set for Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Smith, the town manager, will arrange a presentation and discussion on housing authorities for that evening.

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