Elizabeth’s Pizza is a great place to eat, but not such a good place for a Greensboro City Councilmember to hold a “Community Conversation.”

At large City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy held her community conversation for District 5 at a large table in the Elizabeth’s Pizza on Bridford Parkway.  Nine people showed up, not counting Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 5 Councilmember Tammi Thurm, one city employee and one reporter. The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and for the first few minutes the noise level wasn’t too bad, but then people starting coming in for dinner and between their conversations and the background music it was difficult to hear much of anything said at the other end of the table.

A majority of those present came to talk about a rezoning request on New Garden Road which is on the agenda for the August 20 City Council meeting.  Those at the meeting were all against the rezoning and asked why the city didn’t do a better job of protecting neighborhoods.

Vaughan explained that because the state has made it nearly impossible for city’s to annex property unless the property owner requests annexation that the only way the city could grow was infill development and that often involved rezoning property.  She said, “The only way we have to grow is internally.”

Cheryl McQueary who is a member of the Greensboro Transportation Advisory Commission (GTAC) noted that District 5 had a large immigrant population of people who were accustomed to riding buses, but that District 5 had hardly any bus routes. She said that thousands of new jobs were coming to Greensboro but the people in District 5 who didn’t have cars would have no way to take advantage of those jobs.

Kennedy said, “The entire council is deeply involved in the transportation issue.”  She added that they were looking at new and more efficient bus routes.

McQueary said that the council liaison to GTAC had told the commission that the rates for the SCAT paratransit service were going to be raised in January.

Vaughan said, “We haven’t decided that.”

The liaison to GTAC is Councilmember Sharon Hightower who wasn’t present at this meeting.

McQueary also said that District 5 needed more parks and recreation facilities.  Thurm said that was something she was working on with the parks and recreation department.

Although it was difficult to hear, people seemed pleased to be able to sit down at a table with two councilmembers and the mayor and voice their concerns.