Two months after the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant fire prompted mass evacuations, Winston-Salem city officials outlined ways the City Council could change zoning rules in order to prevent similar disasters during a presentation Tuesday. 

The city's planning department compared Winston-Salem's current zoning rules for chemical manufacturing facilities to several other North Carolina cities and came up with some suggestions: the city could require security walls, hazardous materials management plans, and a minimum site size. They could also require companies to build further away from schools and residential districts. 

City Councilmember Jeff MacIntosh had one big question for city staff: how soon can changes be made?

“We do not want that plant to rebuild there," said MacIntosh. "And so I think it's upon us to make this a relatively speedy process to make some changes that would make that impossible.” 

City staff said the zoning rule amendment process can be lengthy, but said they'd explore all available options. They also said building code changes could address issues related to fire suppression systems and chemical storage. 

Council members directed staff to work with the fire department and emergency management officials to identify other facilities that could pose risks and to explore more potential rule changes over the next month. 

300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.