No More Auto Businesses in Washington Park!

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The South Central Area Plan, developed by the the City-County Planning Board of Forsyth County and Winston-Salem (North Carolina), takes  “a broad, community-wide perspective for guiding growth and development.”  

The plan states that "All new and redeveloped commercial and office uses should be designed and developed to be compatible with nearby residential uses." It recommends the following specifically for the Washington Park Activity Center:

  • Continue strengthening the existing commercial areas through public and private improvements.
  • Incorporate more mixed-use development within the activity center, either through redevelopment or new development.
  • Strengthen pedestrian connections between residential and commercial uses.
  • Design parking areas to be visually unobtrusive and pedestrian-friendly. Locate parking beside/behind buildings.
  • New auto-related uses or expansion of existing auto- related uses are not recommended in the activity center.
  • Encourage redevelopment of auto-related uses into other neighborhood-serving commercial and business uses, such as restaurants and retail space.

This commercial strip nested in a residential area is zoned Pedestrian Business, a designation that is meant to encourage walkable community activity. Auto-related businesses are antithetical to the character of the neighborhood, in that they bring more auto traffic to the area, are generally unattractive, and do not engage the pedestrian experience. 

Our house was built in 1925, one of the first residential properties in what was then a booming industrial area. Sometime in the next 30 years, Shell Oil Company constructed a filling station on the lot barely 6 feet from the west-facing side of the house. 80 years ago, automobiles, and the technology to work with them, were very different, and people's relationship to automobiles were also very different. There was also a much different and what is now understood to be a negligent view that environmentally polluting industries could co-exist in the same areas with people living in their homes; now there is much more regulation on manufacturing that would make it very difficult for industries to begin working again in what used to be historic and major sites in the neighborhood for producing goods---and for very good reason. The city codes should exist to protect the health and well-being of its residents.

Likewise, just because the building beside our house used to be an auto shop, does not mean that it is always fit to be, if the circumstances of running that shop come to be at odds with human beings living just a few feet away. Shell Oil decommissioned the filling station in the 1980s, likely for various reasons, but I believe that it has to partly be due to their realization that the proximity to the residence beside it made it an unfit lot for their business to continue to operate. 

Most importantly, on Acadia Avenue, there are now THREE auto repair shops within 1000 feet of each other, one every block! 

Lastly, the newest auto business at the intersection of Acadia and Broad has been a massive noise disruption, including late at night, and when we (the homeowners closest to and most affected by their property) contacted them about the noise, they responded by being contentious and antagonistic, not only filling our home daily with industrial sound, but making us feel uncomfortable to be outside our home in our own neighborhood. A business that antagonizes a homeowner should not be allowed to operate in a neighborhood setting. 

Please sign to encourage the city council and other officials to permanently change the zoning so that no additional auto-related businesses are allowed to open within a certain perimeter from the Washington Park Activity Center. 

If you know the property owners, Gary and Larry Cooper, please ask them to terminate the lease of the auto business at the corner of Broad and Acadia, and to please respect the neighbors who live right beside this lot in choosing which commercial tenant will occupy it.