Mayor Edward Johnson of Fayetteville gives the first-ever official State of the City Address. (Photo Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

by Lauren Choisnet

The second Fayetteville City Hall meeting of the year began with something new as Mayor Edward Johnson gave a State of the City Address. Johnson highlighted the many ways Fayetteville has grown over the past year, his first year in office, and urged the city’s citizens to take part in their community in the first-ever official State of the City address.
Johnson spoke on his goal of turning Fayetteville into one of the premier cities of not only the southeast, but of the entire United States.
“I thank the members of the City Council for a cooperative spirit during this past year,” said Johnson. “It is our fervent desire to work together to present this city as one with a rich history but, even more so, one with a promising future.”
He labeled the present as a key moment in time for the city and one that requires action.
“We cannot afford to maintain a status quo and watch surrounding communities surpass our economic development and managed-growth efforts. We must press forward in our efforts to deter crime. We must continue to set the pace for high educational standards. We must aggressively pursue and attract quality businesses through a robust economic development plan,” said Johnson. “The world is changing, and so is Fayetteville. We must embrace and capitalize on these changes. We must put any personal differences aside in order to maintain and improve the quality of life we all moved here to enjoy. Tonight, I call on all of us to embrace change and prepare our unified community to make the most of it. That, I believe, is what good leadership is about.”
He encouraged participation from residents as the best way to make Fayetteville a city everyone can be proud of.
“We are in this together, and I believe, if we embrace the principles of community and teamwork, we will succeed,” said Johnson.
Upon completion of the Mayor’s address, usual business resumed.
On November 3 last year, a moratorium on further development along Highway 85 was put into place in order to prioritize addressing amendments to existing property. It is designed to give the city time to ensure the zonings and ordinances in place are those needed to encourage the desired type of development along the corridor. The moratorium was set to last for 90 days, but the planned work was delayed due to the holiday season. Jahnee Prince, a Collaborative Firm Consultant, requested that the moratorium be extended to March 3, which was approved.
Brian Wismer, the Director of Economic Development, provided a status update on a pedestrian bridge project which has been in the works since 2013. The preliminary engineering phase has been completed, with right of way negotiations set to begin in March. The project is going along on schedule and is expected to be completed in either late fall or winter of 2018. The bridge will connect Piedmont Hospital’s westernmost parking lots to Lester Road across Highway 54.
Council also took time to recognize civic employees who had been working for Fayetteville from five to thirty years. Particular recognition went to Captain Kerry Cochran of the Fayetteville Fire Department and Fire Marshal Marty Mundok, who had been working for 19 and 27 years respectively.
State Representative Derrick Jackson, who was in attendance, was invited to share his thoughts. Jackson said he was “bursting with joy to see how you’re controlling your growth” and that he looked forward to seeing how Fayetteville would continue to grow in the coming year.