Southport's Short Street

Southport aldermen this Thursday will revisit a decision that reversed the flow of traffic on Short Street, a residential lane near the Yacht Basin.

City Manager Gordon Hargrove and Police Chief Todd Coring are on the agenda to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the reversal when the board meets Thursday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Southport Community Building.

The one-way direction of Short Street was suddenly reversed in September when white arrows and “Do Not Enter” signs were erected to direct cars to enter from West West Street and exit right onto Brunswick Street. The action was not the subject of a public hearing and no advanced notice was published.

At that time, Coring said the direction was changed after speaking with four Short Street residents, who also met with Mayor Joe Pat Hatem and several city aldermen in separate meetings to address the issue.

Property owners had expressed concerns about reckless drivers mixing with pedestrians and bikers that travel through the area. The reversal was aimed at cutting down on the number of cars taking Short Street from the heavily-traveled Brunswick Street.

While Short Street residents mostly praised the change, other citizens in the area were not so happy, especially since drivers who exit Short Street are forced to turn right toward the Southport Marina and then must loop back to West West Street.

Coring told The State Port Pilot following the move that while some people have questioned the directional change it was part of a greater plan to improve the walkability of the city and Yacht Basin area. The city announced then it would monitor the effectiveness of the move over the next few months.

Annexation request

Aldermen will also hold a public hearing Thursday before considering a voluntary annexation petition for properties on North Caswell Avenue.

Property owners David and Brenda Baker’s petition asks the city to annex their .14-acre lot at 1208 North Caswell on the western side, between West 14th Street and West 12th Street. It is currently vacant and zoned for business.

The Bakers want access to city water and sewer and also plan to seek a zoning change from business to multi-family.

Property owners Wilbur and Ellen Mathis are seeking voluntary annexation of their .14-acre lot zoned for residential use at 1151 North Caswell Avenue. They want access to city water and sewer and do not plan to seek a zoning change.

Aldermen will also consider a voluntary annexation of a .46-acre vacant lot at 116 East 13th Street, located at the corner of East 13th Street and North Atlantic, that was subject of a public hearing in October.

Property owners Christopher Eckhert and Katherine Narron are also asking for a rezoning from business to R-10 residential. A public hearing on the rezoning will be held Thursday.

Aldermen meetings are open to the public. Facial coverings are required and capacity of the building is limited to 50 people with adherence to social distancing. Public comments can be made in person. Video and audio can also be viewed on the city’s website, www.cityofsouthport.com.

Other business

In other business, aldermen will:

n Receive information from Manager Hargrove on a new performance appraisal system for city employees.

n Hear from John Keiffer of Up Your Arts about a draft of the organization’s phase two memorandum of understanding to repurpose Southport’s former city hall building on Moore Street into a state-of-the-art community based creative and performing arts center.

n Receive a report from Chief Coring on the police patrol bike program.

n Hear a presentation from the city’s auditor.

n Adopt board proclamations in honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and American Diabetes Awareness Month in November; and to give special recognition to Sgt. Wigmore and Officer Peterson for going beyond the call of duty in October to help save a person from taking their own life.

n Receive committee reports, city manager’s report, mayor’s comments, staff reports and board comments.