Chapel Hill to look at speed limits

Friday, December 15, 2017

The town of Chapel Hill will be examining speed limits in town, with an eye toward slowing down the town’s growing traffic

Citizens had expressed concerns to the town planning commission about speeds, particularly on Eagleville Pike.

The main arteries leading in to town, where speeds drop from 55 miles per hour to 30 mph over a short distance aren’t the only areas of concern.

“I’m in favor of slowing it down because our traffic accidents have gone through the roof,” said Police Chief Andrew Kon.

“Last month we had more than we’ve ever had.”

Kon said that speeds on Nashville Highway were also an issue, noting that the southern part of the road around Rex’s or Sonic was particularly bad for wrecks.

The town will look at commissioning a comprehensive traffic study at the next monthly meeting in order to determine what action they need to take.

The town, with a study, will have the ability to regulate speeds even on state highways.

Aldermen voted to accept new health insurance plans for town employees.

The town’s former plan is no longer available due to it not meeting the Affordable Care Act guidelines as well as having seen a significant increase in rates during the past year.

At last month’s meeting, the various options available to the town were presented, and aldermen spent the month talking to employees about their preferences.

“I have tried to make it a point to ask employees, and their spouses when I can, which option they favored,” said Alderman Marion Joyce.

The board decided to offer their employees the choice of two different Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and also to contribute additional funds to subsidize one of the plans.

“I’m happy to do that for our employees,” said Joyce.

The measure passed 5-1 with Alderman Jan Darnell opposing the plan based on the additional cost to the town.

Several ordinances were introduced as well, aimed at filling gaps not currently addressed by the town.

One measure is directed toward setting guidelines on the use of fireworks within the town limits.

Kon said that some sort of ordinance had been needed for a long time, noting that there was nothing regarding fireworks currently, and that aldermen had approached him to establish some rules.

The proposal would set a time frame, as well as acceptable hours, around holidays such as the 4th of July and New Years, giving the police and fire departments some enforcement ability.

The department received complaints of people shooting off fireworks well after midnight even on holidays, said Kon.

“This is good,” said Mayor Danny Bingham of the draft resolution. “This gives us some boundaries and discussion for the next reading.”

Aldermen also unanimously approved on first reading an ordinance giving emergency responders some recourse for dealing with false alarm calls.

The departments could determine their costs for responding to false calls and charge chronic offenders if necessary.

“There’s been calls at certain businesses three, four, ... eight times,” said Kon. “We are trying to curb that.”

The ordinance would apply to business and home alarms as well.

Kon also noted that the town had no littering ordinance, before aldermen also approved such a measure on first reading.

A CHPD officer had caught people dumping trash along Caney Springs Road, which is a common occurrence said Kon, and didn’t have a town ordinance to cite the dumpers.