In-town speed limits to decrease; 15-min. parking spaces to be rearranged

A discussion at the May Town Board meeting about vehicles driving too fast on Hickory Hill Road has morphed into a revamping of the town’s Traffic Schedule regarding speed limits on town-owned roads, inroads into Highlands and even the rearrangement of 15-minute parking spaces.

After a couple of Public Safety Committee meetings, Public Service Director Lamar Nix presented the board with speed limit recommendations on town-owned roads as well as limits on NC DOT roads into town.

As per Nix’s and Police Chief Bill Harrel’s recommendation, the standards (conditions) of existing roads were used to determine speed limits. Basically, speed limits on roads that don’t meet construction widths to allow for centerline striping will not exceed 15 mph.  In other words, those are basically only wide enough for one vehicle to travel safely so speed must be decreased.

It was determined that speed limits on streets that do have center line striping would be decided on an individual basis but they won’t exceed 20 mph.

Chief Harrell and the Public Safety Committee also discussed the speed limits on NC 106 and US 64/NC 28 as they approach the business district because they aren’t consistent. 

Currently, NC 106 and US 64 are posted at 35 mph to the First Street intersection. However, Nix said the pedestrian traffic on both these roads has made 35 mph unacceptable due to poor visibility and the lack of sidewalks. 

Approaching town, NC 28 (Walhalla Road), Horse Cove Road and US 64 east (Cashiers Road) all have 25 mph speed zones. Nix recommended that the same go for NC 106 and US64/28 (Franklin Road).

According to the new traffic schedule which will be kept at Town Hall in the Code of Ordinances, town-owned streets are now 15 – 20 mph. Signage will be erected on all the streets. However, the town has to ask NC DOT to change and post limits on NC 106 and US 64.

In addition to speed limit adjustments, changes were made to the parking map concerning 15-minute parking spaces.

Four 15-minute spaces were removed from the parking schedule: the one by OEI at 4th and Main streets, the one by Sweetreats at 4th and Main streets, the one by Molly Grace on 4th Street and the one by Smitten on Main Street. 

To be added are two 15-minutes spaces at the Presbyterian Church on 5th Street, two 15-minute spaces by the Masonic Lodge on 3rd Street and one 15-minute spot in front of Sweetreats on Main Street.

Commissioners also asked the Public Works Committee to look at finalizing decisions concerning the elimination of dumpsters in rights-of-way – primarily Oak Street

They said too many people are using the dumpsters illegally or putting construction debris in them instead of just “household” garbage.

Dubbed “Sanitation Pickup Revisions and Implementation of BearWise Protocols,” the mayor has asked the Public Works Committee to consider creating ordinances to deal with sanitation pickup – perhaps to require homeowners to have bear-resistant toters with a bar. 

 “Injuries to backs, shoulders and arms are adding up and all our trucks have the ability to flip in toters with the bars,” he said. “At some point we need to address this.”

Other ordinance additions would be in conjunction with BearWise initiatives concerning garbage and even bird feeders. 

By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper

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