COUNTY OF HENDERSON AUGUST 25, 2009
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Meeting Room of the Henderson County Historic Courthouse.
were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chairman
Present from Polk County were: Vice-Chairman Warren Watson, Chair Cindy Walker. County Manager Ryan Whitson, Clerk to the Board Anne Britton, Attorney Thomas Hix, Engineer Dave Odom, Planning Director Cathy Ruth, Commissioner Ray Gasperson and Commissioner Renee McDermott.
Absent were: Assistant County Manager Selena Coffey and Clerk to the Board Teresa Wilson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance, stating that the purpose of the meeting is a Public Hearing with respect to a request from Polk County in regards to the Green River Watershed (Proposed Lake Adger Intake).
Chairman Moyer noted that on September 1, 2009 at 3:00 p.m., the Henderson County Water Supply and Distribution Task Force will meet for purpose of public comment on all water issues affecting the Southern end of the County. The task force was formed by the County in conjunction with the City of Hendersonville and other municipalities. There are representatives from agriculture, business, and a water engineer. This committee looks at various issues and determines what recommendations should be made to the municipalities and the county.
THE GREEN RIVER WATERSHED (PROPOSED LAKE ADGER INTAKE)
Planning Director Anthony Starr provided the following information via a power-point presentation.
Background Facts on Public Water Supply Watersheds:
· All land is located within a watershed.
· 20% of NC lands are classified as being within water supply watersheds.
o Water supply watersheds are sources of water for drinking, culinary or food processing purposes.
· Henderson County currently has 5 regulated watersheds.
o Approximately 48,121 acres total
Who Regulates these Water Supply Watersheds?
· Henderson County regulates the water supply watersheds through zoning.
o Henderson County adopted its ordinance in 1994 as required by State and Federal law.
· N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) sets base regulations for local governments to follow & is responsible for classifying a water supply watershed as stated in the Water Supply Watershed Protection Act.
· The County does not determine or set the water supply watershed boundaries or classifications.
Facts on Proposed Green River Watershed:
· Lake Adger Watershed contains 87,470 acres.
o 36,825 acres in Polk County
o 50,645 acres in Henderson County
· Reclassify 50,645 acres in the Green River and Hungry River areas to a WS-III watershed.
o Approximately 21.09% of Henderson County (There are approximately a total of 240,100 acres in Henderson County)
WS-III Watershed Allows:
· Allows agriculture and silviculture uses.
· Allows single-family residential uses.
o Minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet (0.46 acres or just less than ½ acres).
o Most of the affected area currently requires 1 acre or more per County zoning.
· Allows multifamily & nonresidential uses
o Maximum of 24% built upon area (or 70% built upon area with a special intensity allocations (SIA)).
o Built upon area includes pavement, buildings & gravel.
o Current County rules limit built upon area to 80% of a development site.
One of the more significant changes for Henderson County would be that the limit on that impervious surface or built upon area would go from 80% to 70% for multi-family and non-residential uses. They would only be allowed if the underlining zoning for that area permits those uses in the first place.
The following is a map of the Lake Adger drainage basin as provided to Henderson County by the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It includes all of the Green River area in Henderson County, as well as the Hungry River area extending up into the Green River Game lands and as far west as the Transylvania County line and the South Carolina State line on the south. It includes a very small portion of the Village of Flat Rock and some part of Saluda.
The following map includes current and proposed water supply Watershed regulations. The upper left hand side of the map reflects our current regulated areas for water supply. These are for the Asheville and Hendersonville water intakes. The lower right hand green area is the proposed Watershed as given to us by the State of North Carolina.
Chairman Moyer questioned if Watershed III would have any regulations with respect to use of streams or lakes.
Mr. Starr responded that he did not believe the use of lakes was regulated. It does include set-back requirements for streams at 30 feet. He does not feel that use of Lake Summit would be impacted.
County Manager Steve Wyatt asked when speaking of use if they were talking about recreational.
Chairman Moyer responded yes.
Mr. Starr stated that these requirements are limited to development activity and do not regulate recreational use as far as he knew.
Chairman Moyer questioned if you have a multi-family use situation now that could not be built under the Watershed III classification, are they grandfathered or how would they be dealt with.
Mr. Starr responded that if a multi-family project is allowed it has to be permitted by our underlying zoning regulations. It will allow a multi-family project but will limit the impervious surface limit and building on the site in a more stringent way. It will go from 80% limit to a 70% limit. If the project were completed five years ago it would be grandfathered.
Commissioner Williams questioned if this were so during special intensity allocations only; otherwise it would be 24%.
Mr. Starr responded this was correct. The special intensity allocation is allowed for up to 10% of the drainage basin with the jurisdiction. For Henderson County this would be approximately 5000 acres which could be developed up to the 70%.
POLK COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Polk County Commissioners’ Vice-Chairman Warren D. Watson presented Polk County issues. A copy of the issues is included in form of a letter which is attached hereto and incorporated as part of the minutes.
Chairman Moyer stated the one issue he felt was different from what had been discussed was if Henderson County did not endorse WSIII, Polk County would go back and request WSIV even though the State has told them they cannot.
Mr. Watson stated this would be Polk County’s intent. Speaking for the Polk County Commissioners’, they feel with the WSIII, Henderson County is protecting the Watershed and therefore Henderson County should have some potential benefit from it. With the WSIV, the Watershed would be in Polk County which is what they requested initially.
Planning Director Anthony Starr answered questions from the Board in regards to the difference in classification between WSIII and WSIV.
Chairman Moyer asked if Polk County goes ahead with WSIV classification rather than WSIII, if it would have zero inpact on the ability of Polk County to take the same amount of water from the Green River basin and from Lake Adger.
Mr. Starr responded his area of expertise lies with the water supply watershed regulations as to what their input permits may or may not allow. It would limit the regulation of Polk County but he is unaware if they would be further restricted. The classifications chosen by the state, in theory, are supposed to be based upon the existing development patterns within the area that would drain the intake.
Consulting Engineer Bill Lapsley, a member of the Water Supply and Distribution Task Force addressed the Board per request of Chairman Moyer. He did not believe the amount of water that could be drawn per day was affected by the WSIII or WSIV classification.
Warren Watson readdressed the Board regarding questions that came up during public comment.
1) Polk County’s ability to work with their municipalities - He feels this is a long term goal. Currently each of the municipalities has their own water system and they are collaborating at this time to work together. It is Polk County’s hope that in the future a water authority can be formed within Polk County that will allow us all to work together. As the systems get older and the cost of bringing water to the citizens increases due to maintenance and other issues, Polk County will have the ability to offer those citizens a better, higher quality and lower cost of water without negatively impacting our municipalities.
2) Is there a water distribution plan – They are in fact working on it. There intent is to run straight up Highway 9 to the Rutherfordton County line. Currently their line at the Southern end of the County, crosses over the Southern end and runs up Chesney Highway and Highway 9. This is within the Comprehensive Plan being worked on at this time and they have specifically requested a water resource plan which will lay out the back bone of their water system and the infra-structure will be phased in. They do not wish to force people to join on the water system but give them an incentive to do so.
The Board of Commissioners asked several additional questions of Mr. Watson.
Commissioner Messer asked if Mr. Watson knew the formula that the State uses for Watershed classifications to determine how to choose WSIII or WSIV.
Dave Odom responded that he was not aware of any specific formula. It is a function of the development patterns in the discharges that exist within the watershed. If they anticipate a less dense development pattern they require you to pursue the most favorable watershed classification that you can to ensure the best quality of water long term.
Commissioner McGrady noted that Henderson County has been contacted by the City of Saluda in regards to their purchase of a water company that generates water. In the course of the discussions we backed into an understanding of what the municipal uses of water might be from Lake Adger (long term). He did not feel it would make sense to pump water up-hill to Henderson County.
Commissioner Watson believes there is a system of pumps and values in the line from Tryon to Saluda, and Tryon would actually be a back-up to the Saluda system.
It was noted that currently bids are being accepted to place a water line from Tryon to Saluda.
Chairman Moyer understands these lines are being characterized as emergency backup in case of dry situations.
Commissioner Young questioned Polk County’s relationship with the Broad River Water Authority.
Commissioner Watson responded that Broad River Water Authority is in Rutherfordton County, North Carolina and over the years they have lost a lot of customers due to textile plant closings, etc. The Inman / Campobello water system is in Spartanburg, South Carolina and was looking for a new source of water. In order to connect those two systems was to run across Polk County (geographically). Polk County felt in order to protect themselves they needed to own the lines. When they were approached with the idea of running the line across Polk County and agreement was made for Inman/Campobello to construct the lines, deed the lines within the borders of Polk County back to Polk County. The water would be metered from Broad River to Polk County at one county line and from Polk County into Inman / Campobello (Spartanburg, SC) at the other line. That water is sent through on a pass through basis. No revenue or profits are made. This is just a way to facilitate a seller with a buyer. Polk County gained water lines and an agreement to purchase up to 600,000 gallons per day by putting a T on the line and running it up Chesney Highway. We have lots of folks in that area with wells going dry and Polk County knew they needed to address water quicker than a Lake Adger intake would allow. Polk County desired to eventually have an intake on Lake Adger because it is a resource within their county.
Chairman Moyer questioned the water source for the Broad River Water Authority.
Commissioner Watson responded the Broad River and the Green River flows into the Broad River.
Commissioner Young referred to the letter from Polk County, page 4, and noted that Polk County officials have said “No” to significant commercial and residential development. He questioned if they do however intend to sell water to South Carolina.
Commissioner Watson responded that this is not the intent of Polk County. They are purchasing water through the line that crosses their county going into South Carolina. The folks at Inman / Campobello would have to purchase a tremendous amount of water from Polk County to make it feasible for the expense involved. Polk County does not see giving up that much water. They would like to have their own intake with up to 2 million gallons per day.
Commissioner Williams assumed there was a lack of interest at this point from the municipalities due to cost, and felt there would be a great deal of pressure to sell water to subsidize the cost. He questioned what had been done, in terms of feasibility studies from the cost standpoint, to determine the anticipated expense.
Commissioner Watson responded Polk County is purchasing the lake out of their fund balance with no financing. Part of the water plan (comprehensive plan) will allow for Polk County to phase in infrastructure so that when they get a certain concentration of customers it will give them enough revenue to go the next step and invest in the next area of infrastructure. It is not a quick and fast plan, but a multi-year, long term multi-phase plan.
Dave Odom readdressed the Board that this is correct, it is an expensive proposition. Polk County has held discussions in relation to timing and when they would build a plant to be able to efficiently operate it with the revenue stream they have. It was determined that they would need 1,000 customers to effectively be able to operate the plant and cover the revenues of the plant itself. The Board has held several discussions in regards to funding methods for the plant and no decisions have been made at this time. The primary concern is how the plant will be operated without a sufficient revenue stream. The plant construction will not begin until they have a sufficient customer base to operate and break even.
Chairman Moyer requested an update on the structural inspection of the dam that Polk County had said was a condition to moving forward.
Dave Odom responded they have received a seismic study which was one of the contingencies within the contract to purchase. It is currently being reviewed by their engineering firm and they are hoping for a positive outcome. Polk County feels that the dam is in good shape but will need maintenance as it is 80 years old. If the contingencies are not determined satisfactory there are terms in the contract that would allow Polk County to terminate the contract in certain situations.
Ryan Whitson stated that the contingencies in the contract were that Polk County agreed to purchase the dam subject to a seismic study and NCDENR requested that study before negotiations were made to purchase the dam. Subject to the contract, if there are more than $2 million worth of repairs to be made of the dam the purchase agreement is null and void if the Polk County Board so desires. There is also a “worst case scenario” flood study where water would come over and possibly undermine the dam. They have not received this study to date but expect it any day. In response to a question by Commissioner Young, Mr. Whitson stated that Inman / Campobello put in a 20 inch water line and they have two (2) pump stations that cost about $500,000 each. Polk County’s water line on Highway 9 is a 12 inch line with no pump stations.
Additional Public Comment
8. Carolyn Brown – Ms. Brown stated that other rivers along with the Green River go into the Broad River and she felt it they were getting that much water out of the Broad River they did not need to use the Green River. She feels use of the Green River would greatly impact the agricultural part of Green River and also it would put a lot of restrictions on the farmers in that area.
9. Bill Brown – Mr. Brown questioned the restrictions on Lake Summit. He heard many years prior that Saluda had the right to the water coming out of Lake Summit. He requested clarification on WSIII and WSIV in regards to Lake Summit.
Chairman Moyer stated that he was unaware that Saluda has any agreement to get the water out of Lake Summit. If Polk County gets a WSIV for this project the watershed would be in Polk County only and there would be no classification in Henderson County. A study has not been done on Lake Summit.
At a future meeting the Henderson County Board of Commissioners will decide what they want to put on the agenda and what how they wish to take action.
The Public Hearing was closed at 8:20 p.m.
Being no further business to come before the Board, Commissioner Young made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Teresa L. Wilson, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman