Spencer to trim greenery, improve road safety

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

By Rebecca Rider


SPENCER — The Spencer Board of Aldermen has decided to do some trimming after town residents said they couldn’t see the road for the trees.

The board spent a good part of its Tuesday night meeting discussing the issue.

According to Joel Taylor, town public works director, residents along South Salisbury Avenue heading toward Salisbury reported they have had a hard time pulling out from side streets, driveways and parking lots because of high vegetation.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints by property owners, business owners, anybody basically who lives on that end of town,” Taylor said.

Police Chief Mike James said he’d also had numerous complaints.

Taylor brought up the issue Tuesday at the board’s monthly meeting to seek advice. But he had some ideas of his own, too.

“My recommendation, just my personal recommendation, is to go in and take the hollies out completely,” he said.

The offending greenery lines South Salisbury Avenue in several cracked and broken concrete planters. The trees are mostly bushy hollies and crape myrtles with low hanging branches. The planters also contain lilies, which the board hoped to preserve.

Taylor said he would recommend removing the hollies immediately and trimming the lower branches on the crape myrtles. While the myrtles could be saved, trimming the hollies low enough to improve visibility would likely kill the plants, so it may be best to just cut them off at the ground, he said.

In the winter, the board could focus on removing the broken planters. All of them would need to go, Taylor said.

“You kind of have to do it all the way up through there if you’re going to make any adjustments whatsoever,” he said.

While some board members expressed concern that the planters might have some history worth preserving, James and board member Howard White pointed out that the limited sight lines present a safety issue that trumps everything else.

Taylor agreed.

“We’re trying to do something to help our citizens on that end of town because they’re having to live with it every day. … So it’s putting them in quite a bit of jeopardy every day,” he said.

Board members also noted that the planters technically sit within N.C. Department of Transportation right of way. Mayor Jim Gobbel, however, said that if it’s a public safety problem, it is the town’s job to correct it.

But what if someone complains about the short notice or the loss of greenery?

“Put it on me, I don’t care. Lives, lives — there’s no way around lives,” White said.

Chief James agreed.

“I don’t think we have a choice. … My recommendation would be to make it safe,” he said.

The board moved to follow Taylor’s recommendation to cut the hollies down and trim the crape myrtles. The motion passed unanimously.

The board will meet again at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 in Town Hall.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.