SILER CITY — A presentation on Monday about Mountaire Farm’s request to close a portion of East Third Street and East Fifth Street drew concerns and questions, but no decisions, from the Siler …
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SILER CITY — A presentation on Monday about Mountaire Farm’s request to close a portion of East Third Street and East Fifth Street drew concerns and questions, but no decisions, from the Siler City Board of Commissioners.
Mountaire, the Delaware-based poultry processing company which built and operates a plant on East Third, first requested in October 2018 that the town consider closing the road in front of its facility to “increase safety” around the property, according to a letter sent to the town by Rose Law Firm, which represents Mountaire in the matter. Mountaire also submitted a “partial traffic study” conducted before the plant was operational which estimated truck and regular traffic at and around the facility.
Since that time, Mountaire, town staff, representatives from the N.C. Dept. of Transportation and emergency management officials have been working to address concerns to create a final proposal for the board’s consideration.
Mountaire is again requesting a partial closure of East Third Street in front of its facility, a portion of East Fifth Street and all of Johnson Avenue. The proposal indicates that traffic would be routed off of East Third onto North Avenue, which would be extended, to connect to U.S. Hwy 64 with a traffic light.
Commissioners raised concerns immediately upon hearing the request. Scott Thompson, a representative of Mountaire, noted that he anticipates 50 percent of Mountaire’s regular truck traffic would use North Avenue with the other half using a private Third Street entrance which would allow “no interaction with the public” at its facility.
Commissioner Tony Siler asked how this change of traffic pattern would impact North Street. Siler City Planning Director Jack Meadows noted that specific impact was not included in the traffic analysis submitted by Mountaire. Commissioner Bill Haiges noted numerous concerns about traffic, the impact of the proposed “super highway” NCDOT project on U.S. Hwy 64 and the effect the change would have on other businesses such as MAS Acme, from which only right turns would be allowed out of the facility if the closure is approved.
“There are a lot of unintended consequences for this,” Haiges said.
Commissioner Chip Price also voiced numerous concerns about the proposal. He noted the challenge for Third Avenue businesses to have tractor trailer deliveries with the closure. In addition, he was concerned with the increased response times for emergency management. Price also noted that he makes a point to travel on Third Avenue at different times of the day to do his own “informal traffic study” and thought it “seems to be working pretty well” as it is.
With the concerns raised, the board directed Meadows to work during the next month to contact other stakeholders including MAS Acme, NCDOT and business interests on Third Avenue. In addition, the board requested a more up-to-date traffic analysis that reflects current traffic patterns rather than estimates. The board will likely revisit the subject in one of its March regular meetings.
Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.