A decision in January by the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen to allow the second annual Antiques on Main festival to be held downtown was rescinded during the board’s meeting Monday night, and the proposed updated sign ordinance was tabled.
“I think we acted a little hasty,” said Alderman Lester Mullis when discussing the January decision by the board to allow the festival to be held on E. Main Street from N. Jefferson Avenue to the front of Badger Funeral Home during the fourth weekend in September 2013.
Mullis said that when the board approved the downtown site for the festival, he was under the impression it would be good for the town and that most businesses downtown supported the festival move away from Backstreet to downtown.
However, he said the communication from other businesses downtown made him believe the prior approval needed to be revisited.
“It’s not until September…we should revisit it,” said Mullis.
Dr. Brett Summey, serving as chair of the meeting because of Mayor Dale Baldwin’s absence, agreed with Mullis.
Alderman Calvin Green also supported rescinding the earlier decision.
“(We) got to watch out for our taxpayers,” said Green, referring to several businesses, including the Parkway Theater, that had communicated with the aldermen and mayor prior to the January meeting that they did not support having that area of downtown closed during that weekend in September.
Alderman Tom Hartman supported the idea of having the antique show, but suggested that it might be held at a different location.
Alderman Stephen Shoemaker, who said at the January meeting that it would be difficult to make all of the businesses that call downtown home happy about blocking off a portion of Main Street in September, wasn’t in attendance during the meeting Monday night.
When Dr. Summey asked for a motion to rescind the earlier decision, Green said, “I agree to make a motion to kill what we did.”
The aldermen voted 4-0 to rescind the decision and asked that Keith Woodie, who is coordinating the event, attend the meeting in March to determine if an alternate location for the festival can be agreed upon.
“When you come back, try and stay off the main street,” said Green.
There was also a larger than usual crowd on hand for the meeting Monday night.
After the aldermen decided to table the proposed updated sign ordinance, several left. The decision was made because Mayor Baldwin and Alderman Shoemaker were not in attendance.
The aldermen also had a request from Ed Baldwin of the Stonebridge Community off of U.S. 221 for West Jefferson to consider building a satellite fire department in Big Tree to provide increased fire protection for the community.
Dr. Summey said to Baldwin that the board would take it under consideration, but offered no comment.
Later in the meeting, West Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donnie Miller said he believed the department couldn’t afford to build a satellite station now, or in the near future, saying that it might cost as much as $1 million to complete a structure with the proper, and state required, firefighting equipment.
In other business:
• The aldermen agreed to an easement swap with the Villages of Ashe.
• Revised its zoning regulations regarding mixed uses and added microbreweries as a use in a commercial district.
• Public Works Director David Hamilton reported that the amount of rain, five and a half inches in 24 hours, that fell during the storm last week was the most ever seen at the wastewater treatment facility.
• Maintenance Director Eric Miller said his crew had worked through the storms clearing drains and keeping the streets cleared of snow.
• W.J. Police Chief Jeff Rose reported for January, 261 calls, 22 accidents, and 23 arrests, with 13 of those drug related. He added that calls were up 54 percent from the previous January.