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Canton business, neighbors in parking dispute

A Canton business has recently found itself in the midst of a heated parking debate. Blackbear Automotive & Transmission, located on the corner of Pisgah Drive (N.C. 110) and Johnson Street, is generating traffic concerns from the community.

Those concerns recently bubbled to the surface during a July 10 town board meeting.


“He’s created a nuisance at that corner,” nearby resident Jerry Mcfall said at the meeting. “You’re taking your life into your hands when you come to the intersection and can’t see down 110 when you’re trying to pull out into the road. There’s going to be a head-on collision someday and something needs to be done about it.”

According to Mcfall, vehicles, tractor-trailers and campers that Blackbear is working on have been parked along Johnson Street near the intersection, ultimately blocking their view. 

“There are people on the street putting down five-gallon buckets on their driveway to keep him from pulling in and out when he’s moving these vehicles,” Mcfall said. “I’ve called the police about this and I’ve talked to them so many times that the dispatcher knows my voice.”

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Canton Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss said the town is aware of the complaints, has contacted the business’s owner, John Mamph, and is attempting to ensure the concerns of both sides of the debate are taken into account. He noted that a shoulder line that was recently painted on the road and that that the town could potentially designate the area of concern a no-parking zone.

“I have met with [Mamph] personally to hear his concerns, and we respond to the concerns of the citizens,” Hendler-Voss said. “We need to provide for small business owners, and for community members, a quality of life. Our next step is to meet with [Mamph] again, to give him a heads up that the board is considering eliminating parking in that area. It’s the fair way to go. We’re trying to handle this in a very delicate manner.”

“You’re trying to show respect for [Mamph], but he ain’t showing any respect for you,” Mcfall countered.

Regardless of the obstructed view on the road, Hendler-Voss said Mamph was currently in compliance with the parking distance from the intersection. The board then decided to move forward with scheduling a special session in the near future to consider a vote to make the area a no-parking zone.

When reached for comment following the meeting, Mamph said he feels he is being held to a double standard. 

“So, it’s OK for everybody else who lives here to be able to park on the sides of [Johnson Street], but I can’t?” the business owner asked. “How can I get my parts delivered if the trucks can’t park here? I’ve been in business three years. We’re a great location, and we’ve built a great business and now, after three years, they’re going to start complaining?”

Mamph finds himself in a difficult position. Being limited on parking and repair space, he utilizes the sides of the street, which, as of now, is legal.

“I’m looking out my window right now and I can see the chief of police standing out there, right now, measuring the distance of one of my vehicles from the intersection,” Mamph said. “Why is the chief and the town coming to me asking to do them a favor when I’m not doing anything wrong? Other businesses around town are blocking traffic with trucks and unloading things. What am I doing wrong? I’ve got a business, and I’m busy.”

Canton’s town board has scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. July 16 to consider the prohibition of parking of the section on Johnson Street in question.

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