Salisbury Planning Board discusses new fire station, hears residents’ objections

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2017


SALISBURY – Fire Station 3 – built in 1956 – is the second-oldest fire station in Salisbury. Located at 1604 W. Innes St., it serves the northwestern part of the city, which includes Catawba College, Livingstone College and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

But after nearly 60 years, the department needs a new space so it can better serve the area.

The main item on the agenda for this week’s Salisbury Planning Board meeting, held at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, was the building that might be constructed to replace Fire Station 3.

The new building would be located in the 100 block of Mahaley Avenue, which borders a residential area.

During the public hearing portion of the discussion, four residents — three of whom live directly next to the proposed station — expressed concerns about having a fire station in their neighborhood.

“I am worried about the noise, the lights, the woods being gone,” said neighborhood resident Joanna Young. “The charm of my house is the woods behind it.”

Some trees in the woods behind her house would likely be cut down, should the station be built, to make room for a man-made runoff pond.

The pond would be a necessary component of the project, according to the city’s facilities manager, Debra Young. The proposed fire station would be on a hill and would be surrounded by impermeable surfaces, meaning that there would be lots of water rolling down the hill in need of a place to go.

“With the calculations of the amount of stormwater that has to be processed because of the way it flows down there and how we’ve got to retain that water from just gushing down once it comes in, I think that retention pool is really going to provide us with the best solution,” Young said.

Jay Bolin, a professor at Catawba College who lives near the proposed station, expressed concern that property values in the neighborhood might go down.

“I think the engine noise and lights will negatively affect the neighborhood, undoubtedly, through reducing property values, engines idling, sirens in a nice, residential neighborhood,” Bolin said.

Bolin said a well-designed wall could mitigate those effects.

Facilities Manager Young said that having the station on Mahaley Avenue is important.

“There were areas of our city where we looked at response time that were suffering, if you will. And we had an overlap between the current Station 3 and the current central station,” Young said. “Now, when you draw those circles, you might say, ‘Well, it doesn’t look like it’s a lot of overlap.’ But one minute of response time can make a huge difference.”

After more than an hour of debate, the board decided to move the decision to a Planning Board committee. The committee will have 30 days to make a decision and will then present its recommendation to City Council.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.