BOONE — New parking is coming to Boone with the addition of eight spots and a loading zone on South Water Street.
The new spaces will be on the section from King Street to the driveway of Proper, a local restaurant. Town Manager John Ward told the Boone Town Council at its Sept. 16 meeting that he had asked the public works department to look at the feasibility of converting one of the travel lanes into the parking spots and loading zone.
“Right now, for Mellow Mushroom and Proper, you’re seeing trucks stop in the travel lane to unload goods for those businesses,” Ward said.
In addition, Ward said the town will be putting in a large, delineated crosswalk at the Howard Street intersection on South Water Street as part of the Howard Street project, which is currently being put out to bid. Part of that is to help with foot traffic that comes from the apartments behind Proper, Rivers Walk apartments and the apartments in the same building as Mellow Mushroom.
“Part of the idea is if we convert one of these travel lanes into parallel parking and a loading zone we’ll get about eight parking spots and the loading zone, (and) we will add meters to those,” Ward said. “We will reduce one of the travel lanes down so that as individuals are crossing, they’ll have one less lane to worry about. That will greatly improve the safety in that general area.”
Ward said his staff had identified a low cost option with the majority of the cost associated with the parking meters. He said that taking away the one travel lane, which the town talked to the N.C. Department of Transportation about, will actually make it less confusing when motorists make a right turn off King Street onto South Water Street.
Coming up South Water Street from Rivers Street to King Street will remain two lanes. South Water Street going toward Rivers Street will remain two lanes after the crosswalk at Howard Street. Ward said the expected installation of the new parking spots and loading zone will be within two months, weather permitting.
Noise and eviction laws
The town council also discussed Boone’s noise ordinance as a community member came before them on Sept. 14 to talk about how loud it’s been in the downtown area recently.
Boone Police Chief Andy LeBeau told the council that his department did not receive a lot of noise complaint calls last year and recently, those calls have started to grow. LeBeau said Boone Police received two noise complaints in June, one in August and four so far in September.
“There may have been additional incidents where there was loud music or outdoor amplification that did not come to our communication center reported as a call for service,” LeBeau said. “I certainly recognize there may have been more instances than this.”
LeBeau said the common sense assessment for more noise complaints is students coming back and fewer COVID-19 restrictions in place. He said he understands that it’s a problem in the downtown Boone community.
In response, LeBeau said his department has been meeting with management of some of the restaurants in the area that have had complaints against them.
“We are being met by the management in a very cooperative spirit and I’m hoping that his calls for service will dramatically decrease,” LeBeau said. “We’re going to be doing our best to gain compliance whether that’s things like moving the band indoors, or repositioning speakers.”
Council member Sam Furgiuele, who had requested a discussion related to the noise ordinance be on the Sept. 16 agenda, said he was appreciative of the efforts by Boone Police and was OK with revisiting the noise ordinance at a later meeting if it was still a problem.
In 2015, Furgiuele said the town council voted 3-2 to raise the 60 dB to 70 dB. The current noise ordinance allows for 70 dB from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 60 dB from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m Monday through Wednesday. From Thursday to Saturday, the noise ordinance allows 60 dB from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., 70 dB from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., 85 dB from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 75 dB from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
On Sunday, the noise ordinance allows 60 dB from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m., 85 dB from 10 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 70 dB from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The town council also heard a motion from council member Dalton George to revise Boone’s minimum housing codes, which establish standards that housing units must meet and oftentimes serve as a way to help tenants seek repairs from landlords without litigation.
Some of George’s specific concerns are already addressed in the code, but George said the additions related to weatherproofing will allow tenants to more easily identify their problems and where the Town can help them.”
“I specifically wanted to add language related to mold and mildew, as well as to include a clause related to weatherproofing,” Georges said. “Weatherproofing is a unique and exciting prospect because it’s an issue of sustainability, improves substandard housing conditions, and is cost-friendly to those trying to keep their homes heated and climate-controlled.”
George’s changes passed unanimously and the town attorney will bring specific language to the town council when they meet to revise the minimum housing code in November.
Additionally, town attorney Allison Meade updated the council on her work on retaliatory eviction language that the council directed her to research and draft per a motion made by George in August. When the Boone Planning Department responds to housing complaints, they will also inform tenants with following information:
“Please be advised that state law protects tenants who make a good faith complaint to a government agency about a landlord’s alleged violation of any health or safety law, or any regulation, code, ordinance or state or federal law that regulates premises used for dwelling purposes. Landlords are prohibited by state law from filing retaliatory evictions against tenants for making such a complaint. Tenants’ rights under this law cannot be waived by a contrary lease provision. See N.C. General Statutes § 42-37.1 et seq.”
George said the additional information will provide tenants with a bit of security and confidence as they make their reports, which he said is a necessary move to balance the rental market.
Meade also clarified that reports do not have to go to a landlord initially, also providing more security for tenants experiencing antagonistic conditions.
At its Sept. 14 meeting, the council granted Appalachian State University a permit for its homecoming parade on Oct. 29. Director of Campus Activities Beth Holcomb the parade would start at the Watauga County social services building, go down King Street and end in the Peacock Parking lot. In total, she said the parade should take 40 minutes.
Council Member Virginia Roseman asked about the possibility of doing the parade on Rivers Street instead as she said she thought it would allow people to spread out more. Holcomb said they were willing to change plans if asked.
Ultimately, the council voted to allow the parade to proceed on King Street with the understanding that if COVID-19 numbers got out of hand, the town could pull the permit within a two week period.
Council member Nancy LaPlaca also gave a presentation at the Sept. 14 meeting on climate change and how it needs to be addressed now, not later.
The Boone Town Council is next scheduled to meet for its regular meeting on Oct. 19.