Town Board votes tonight. A side issue: June Washam Road residents concerned about planned street opening
As Davidson has grown in recent years, it has stretched its ability to provide fire and emergency coverage from the fire station downtown. Now the town is moving forward with plans for a new station on the east side of town, to cover River Run, Summer’s Walk, Bradford and other neighborhoods.
On the agenda
Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m., at Town Hall, 216 S. Main St. Besides voting on the fire station plan, the town board also will:
Full agenda on the town website.
The Town Board tonight (Tuesday) will hear the results of a feasibility study on four sites east of downtown and vote on a resolution that would authorize the town manager to negotiate the purchase of a site and hire an architect to design it.
The board will first hear a presentation from ADW Architects, a consultant the town hired to study potential sites. Then it will vote on a resolution giving the go ahead for the town to buy property and design the building.
The 2009-10 budget approved in June includes $112,000 to buy land and $50,000 to start design on a new fire station.
The project is needed because the state fire service rating organization, the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, has told Davidson it must meet minimum response times to all parts of town. If it does not, insurance ratings for the eastern part of town could fall, leading to rate increases for homeowners.
STREET OPENING REQUIRED
As the town looked at sites for the new station, it studied how response times would vary for the sites. And one key conclusion planners reached was that the town needs a street connection linking Davidson-Concord Road to East Rocky River Road.
Several connections have been approved as part of planning for various projects in the area. But because most of the projects have yet to built, only one would be available for immediate use: the connection of June Washam Road through the River Run Phase 5 development to Shearers Road.
June Washam Road runs north from Davidson-Concord Road near the N.C. 73 intersection. The town last month informed residents that it needs to move up the planned opening of the connection.
River Run Phase 5 is still in the early stages, though the developer has built its network of roads, including an extension of June Washam Road. The extension was required under a master plan approved in March 2004, though the town allowed for a barricade to be installed at the end of June Washam Road. The plan called for the barricade to remain in place until the Town Board authorized its removal.
Last month, Planning Director Kris Krider notified residents along June Washam Road that the even though River Run 5 has not been developed, the town’s public safety needs require opening the connection. The issue came up at the Town Board’s Sept. 22 work session.
Mr. Krider said growth on the east side of town has led to the construction of homes more than 5 miles from the existing fire station – a distance the ISO deems as the maximum for safe response times. The town now faces concerns over both declining safety and rising insurance rates.
“We don’t have any choice, we must build a new fire station,” he said at the Sept. 22 meeting.
He said the town’s studies have determined that the town needs a station somewhere east of the new roundabout at East Rocky River and Davidson-Concord Road. The town has identified four potential fire station sites, he said, “and all four of those require the June Washam connection.”
“This is not a question of whether this connection should exist.. It’s required in our ordinance, it’s required for the insurance rating, and it ‘s also part of our overall circulation plan,” Mr. Krider said. Both Fire Chief Jeff Almond and Police Chief Jeanne Miller also spoke about the importance of the connection for public safety.
A representative of River Run’s property owners’ association, which includes the neighborhood’s 735 homes, said at the meeting the association favors opening the connection to improve response times and safety.
RESIDENTS OPPOSE OPENING
But residents along and just off June Washam Road aren’t happy. Although construction traffic for River Run is banned on the street, they say they remain concerned about traffic and speeding on the state-owned road. (The town is outside the town limits, though the town has planning jurisdiction in the area.)
David Hoagland, who along with his wife owns a lot off June Washam Road, complained that the town originally told residents that the street would not be connected until other nearby connections existed. Mr. Krider said the situation has changed – primarily because of the threat of a lower ISO rating – and the connection is needed now.
Other residents are concerned about the road’s poor condition. “It’s gonna happen, we know it. I don’t think any of us are saying not in my back yard, no cars should go down our road. We just think that the road right now is unsuitable,” said Stewart Gray, a longtime June Washam Road resident.
Kay Wahl, another June Washam Road resident who along with husband Tim Wahl has developed several clusters of high-end homes along the road, said residents have made concessions, but “our lifestyle has been impacted, will continue to be impacted. We can’t walk on the road any more.”
Ms. Wahl also said her business – an equestrian center – has suffered because of already increasing traffic. Among other things, she complained school buses have been turning around on her property.
“June Washam Road isn’t safe for the amount of traffic,” she said.