Siler City board sets public hearing on redistricting

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SILER CITY — Siler City commissioners on Monday set a date for a public hearing to discuss two proposed maps for redistricting.

The hearings will be held Nov. 15, at the board’s next regular meeting, in the Multipurpose Room of the Wren Memorial Library. The location may change if room capacity is exceeded.

Siler City has to redraw its district voting maps after losing population since the 2010 census. Only three of Siler City’s five districts meet the voting district population criteria required by law.

The board was presented two maps by Blake Esselstyn of FrontWater LLC and Mapfigure consulting, along with Deborah Stagner with Tharrington Smith LLP.

Esselstyn said the maps have to meet certain requirements to be approved by state and federal regulators.

“These maps are the result of having looked at the population requirements through the lens of the criteria that you all have directed us to consider,” he said. “Most of the changes that are happening are along or near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Third Avenue, and Third Street.”

The 2020 population for Siler City was 7,702, a decrease of more than 100 residents from the 2010 census. For the redrawn districts to be approved, the population of each district must be within +/- 5% of the “ideal deviation,” which in Siler City’s case is 1,540 residents per district.

According to Esselstyn, two districts were either below or above the allowed deviation: Districts 1 and 3.

“When we look at the existing district shapes and the 2020 population, you can see that three of the five districts have populations that are within the +/- 5%,” he said. “We see that District 1’s population is below the essential deviation and District 3 is above.”

Esselstyn presented two map options to redesign the districts to accommodate Siler City’s population loss.

The first option, Option A, has District 5 expanding along Third Avenue and East 4th Street. It also has District 4 expanding into some of District 3, District 1 expanding into District 1, and District 2 takes some land from District 4.

“In Option A, 95% of the blocks stay the same,” Esselstyn said. “The changes that you see are in the neighborhood along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.”

The second option, Option B, most resembles the current map. Districts 4 and 1 expand slightly, but other than that, the map looks very similar to the 2010 one.

“The major difference between Option B and Option A is Option B looked a little bit harder to try and take into account expected population growth,” Esselstyn said. “So in addition to the residential development in the eastern part of District 1, there’s been a development that has been proposed and applied for and is expected to be proposed again, so in anticipation of the potential approval of that, which would be in District 2, it made sense to make district two’s population a little lower.”

The public hearing has been set for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 15, and members of the public are welcome to comment on both options Esselstyn presented to the board on Monday evening.

Other business

Commissioners received an update from the Siler City police department regarding the department’s annual report.

Lt. Andrew Freeman, Lt. Jason Boyd, Major Jay Underwood and Chief Mike Wagner presented the police department’s statistics over the last year. Highlights from the report include:

• Almost 40 calls into the police department were in regard to a drug overdose in the 2020-2021 year. Five of those resulted in death.

• Body worn cameras went online for Siler City police in September.

• All major cases have been cleared, including one homicide, two armed robberies, 30 sexual assaults, three assaults with a deadly weapon and two kidnappings.

• All major crime is down except for murder and sexual assault.

• Sexual assault cases jumped by 250% in the last year.

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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