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Originally published: 2012-09-13 13:46:49
Last modified: 2012-09-13 13:46:49

Banner Elk Town Council approves new speed limit at Silver Springs Drive, sets public hearings on zoning ordinances

Jamie Shell / (

Banner Elk Town Council entertained a public hearing regarding the establishment of a 20-mph speed limit for Silver Springs Drive within town limits at its regularly scheduled September monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 10.

A number of citizens who reside on the street attended the hearing. One resident, Mike Halus, expressed appreciation to the council for its work and commended the town maintenance staff for its efforts in clearing the roads and its willingness, support and promptness in assisting the residents when any issue arises. 

Halus expressed a safety concern he and other property owners on Silver Springs share regarding large commercial trucks on the street that do not have a straight line of sight for pedestrians who sometimes use the road for walking dogs or exercise due to a lack of a sidewalk. He asked if signage reflecting the new speed limit change could be placed at the base of the hill as well as at the top. 

Following the close of the public hearing, council unanimously approved the establishment of the new speed limit at 20 mph, with signage posted as suggested by Halus at the base and top of the hill where the road runs.

Council also called for a pair of public hearings to take place at its October meeting dealing with a section of the town’s zoning ordinance.

Council set a public hearing in reference to a change of wording for the zoning amendment for incubators. Following meetings involving town staff, Avery County Economic Developer Bret Gardella and Commissioner Glenn Johnson, language has been edited and added to the original amendment that defines distressed businesses and anchor businesses, as well as provides a guideline to determine how much total heated floor space within the incubator that an anchor business can occupy.

Council approved a second public hearing to discuss town businesses affixing a small, smooth-surfaced rider sign with a QR code to their business signs. The code is used to allow visitors or potential customers with smartphones to scan the code for pertinent information about the business at a virtually instant rate. Some members expressed concern about the recommended size of the rider sign (1-foot-by-1-foot square) and the potential for safety issues if motorists attempt to scan signs while driving. Council set the public hearing and suggested that Planning Administrator Cheryl Buchanan research other municipalities to determine how they have addressed the subject.

In other news and notes:

• Town Manager Rick Owen and Derek Goddard with Blue Ride Environmental Consultants addressed council regarding the park expansion project. Goddard explained that the project was re-bid in two separate phases: Construction phase and site work phase.

Owen explained that bids had been received, but both he and Goddard recommended tabling the bids, since they were received just three days earlier and needed examined in greater detail.

• Council approved the appointment of Jillian Rosato, former ETJ member of the planning board, to in-town member of the board, replacing Dawn Sellars. 

• A staff request to open an interest-bearing money market account with Highlands Union Bank was passed by council.

• Council approved town staff to submit a Local Government Participation Certification to North Carolina Department of Commerce, Community Investment, which has conditionally awarded Avery County $225,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds as part of the FY 2012 Scattered Site Housing Program. These funds are to be used to address the most critical housing needs of very low-income families within Avery County.

Owen requested that council allow him to participate with the group for the county that helps with the assessment and review of applicants. Council approved Owen’s request.

• Owen reported that Shawneehaw Creek approved under North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Public Mountain Trout Waters program in August, with signs erected along the banks of the creek denoting the designation.

• Owen and Ted Silver reported that surveys regarding Greenway Trail extension are available online. They explained that an open house had been recently held, with another scheduled for sometime in early October. Silver informed council that surveys and maps are available via a link on the town’s website by clicking to

• Councilman Robert Tufts commended Lees-McRae College’s outdoor education programs and encouraged fellow members and all present to attend Reel Rock Film Festival this Thursday, Sept. 13, at the college. The festival showcases films specific to the field of rock climbing, and LMC was selected as one of four venues for the world premiere of the films.

The October meeting of Banner Elk Town Council will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 8.