STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON FEBRUARY 11, 1999
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 2:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair Bill Moyer, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, County Manager David E. Nicholson, Assistant County Manager Angela S. Beeker, Planning Director Matt Matteson and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He informed the Board that Commissioner Ward was running late, but would be here shortly. He stated that the purpose of this meeting was a work session which is a follow up on a variety of items from their January 29th Retreat.
SCHEDULED WORKSHOP ON THE NOISE ORDINANCE
Chairman Hawkins informed the Board that he had contacted the Chamber of Commerce and asked if they would be able to provide some public input. The Chamber expressed some concerns at the Board=s previous meeting on this subject, and wished to look at some noise levels. Chairman Hawkins requested the Board consider rather than having a Noise Ordinance workshop on February 25, they have a joint work shop with the Chamber of Commerce and the Agriculture Advisory Committee. It was the consensus of the Board to make this change.
ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN SERVICES
Selena Coffey updated the Board on the last meeting of the Alliance. Apparently a question had come up regarding whether or not the Alliance would have their budget recommendation ready by the time the Board of Commissioners begins budget deliberations. Commissioner Moyer, at a previous meeting, had informed the Alliance that they would not be getting fourth quarter money unless they had completed their accreditation process and that the Board was reevaluating the procedure for next year and would possibly be reducing the funding for human services projects.
Ms. Coffey reminded the Board that some money was set aside in the budget for community needs assessments, to be implemented by a consulting agency. An agency has been selected, and has started the needs assessment process. Four of the ten human service agencies have been accredited by the Alliance. For those four, it was recommended that the county go ahead and release those fourth quarter allotments, as well as provide continued funding for the next fiscal year. Two of the additional six agencies were in the process of completing their accreditation, and the status on the other four was unknown.
At the Alliance=s last meeting there was much discussion on the possibility of reduced county funding. There was a motion and second that the Alliance send the county a letter requesting that we not pull back any funding, and in fact request that the Board possibly be ready to fund increased
amounts in the future. That motion did not pass, so it was decided to table the issue until a future meeting where Commissioner Moyer could be present. Ms. Coffey recommended that all three funders (Board of Commissioners, Community Foundation and United Way) be involved in a meeting before any such letter was sent.
Chairman Hawkins stated that it needed to be determined whether or not there are overlaps in service between the many agencies. Of course an agency could use any monies sent to them, but the counties have as much trouble finding funding as these agencies do. Chairman Hawkins stated that the biggest issue before the Board was the upcoming fourth quarter funding. Commissioner Moyer requested direction from the rest of the Board for tomorrow=s meeting with the Alliance. He felt that if the Alliance was unable to get their procedures in order, the Board of Commissioners would continue to handle things until such time as an organized Alliance could come back into the picture. What has been funded so far is only the needs assessment. What has yet to be determined is how to allocate the funding stream that would come from the county. The fourth quarter money is allocated, it just hasn=t been sent out. The consensus of the Board was to send Commissioner Moyer to the Alliance with the message that if the agencies have been accredited, they will receive their fourth quarter payments as scheduled. If they have not been accredited, they will not receive the payment. If the Alliance can get their procedures in place, they can be the source used for allocations, and if not the Commissioners will consider their services for next year.
TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PLAN- (TIP)
Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board of Commissioners has not previously been involved in the TIP to a great extent. There has recently been some indication at the state level that the Department of Transportation is becoming more interested in local input on the TIP. He told them about a list of priorities which had been generated out of a previous meeting with the LGCCA, and a list developed by the Chamber of Commerce.
Matt Matteson was present to give some background on the TIP. He discussed the 1991 Thoroughfare Plan, stating that it was a tool for local governments to use for their transportation planning. There are two kinds of Thoroughfare Plans, rural and urban. Henderson County=s Thoroughfare Plan was created in 1982, and revised in 1991. There is a County Plan, but it has not been adopted. The emphasis to this point had been on the city plan. The city plan was adopted by the city and approved by the NC DOT. This was really the predecessor for the TIP. Currently the county has some input via our local mayors, but no direct line into the TIP.
Jay Swain from the NC DOT presented some information to the Board. The TIP plan is a 7 year document, which is continuously changing and refining. One of the biggest things currently coming about is RPOs, Rural Planning Organizations, and MPOs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Relating to those are Federal guidelines referred to in the TEA21, which is funding from the Federal level. It has requirements in it for input from MPOs and RPOs. This is pushing the NC DOT to develop the MPOs and RPOs around the state. There are not very many MPOs around the state yet. Asheville does currently have one in the form of their Transportation Advisory Committee which has been very active, even into the northern part of Henderson County. Henderson County does not currently have an MPO. The Chamber of Commerce has been serving in this capacity.
The Board then discussed their top TIP priorities. Don Ward stated that the Clear Creek Connector has the most impact on traffic on Four Seasons Blvd., and that would be his first choice. His second choice would be the widening of US #25 North from Brookside Camp Road to Saint John in the Wilderness. Finally he would tap the Short Street Extension.
Commissioner Gordon stated that she would like the Board to focus more broadly. She was concerned about giving too much emphasis to I-26. She would be more interested in looking at ways to develop a local traffic system that will get citizens around the county without having to rely on the interstate. She believes this really fits in with an RPO concept. Her first priority was to finish US #25 North to Asheville.
Commissioner Moyer stated that he did not want to see the Clear Creek Connector built just because it was first on the list. It should be reexamined. He believed the Clear Creek Connector should be left on the list, with an understanding that a thoroughfare study had been conducted by the RPO, it can be modified to fit our needs. There may be a better way to do this project, and that type of flexibility should be left with the counties and cities.
Commissioner Ward stated that he believed the Clear Creek Connector would take some of the burden off Four Seasons Blvd. Commissioner Gordon countered that the Clear Creek Connector may do that, but will just be dumping that traffic onto the intersection of US #25 and Hwy #191. There followed much discussion on the pros and cons of the Clear Creek Connector and other proposed roads.
Chip Gould from the Chamber of Commerce recommended that the Board not change the existing TIP at this time, because NC DOT may view it as Henderson County not really knowing what we want to do. Any submitted change would constitute three submitted plans from Henderson County (Board of Commissioners, Chamber of Commerce, and the LGCCA). He felt the best option would be not to change what we have now, but to move ahead with an RPO. The Short Street extension may end up being built by Home Depot and the City of Hendersonville with a small amount of urban funds from the state, so why have it on the TIP?
Commissioner Gordon stated that she didn=t feel the Board should just rubber stamp either of the existing lists. This is the Board=s chance to have input to the LGCCA on where we are at in this process. All the plans should be compared to see if there is a unified voice.
Commissioner Kumor stated that her feeling in the Clear Creek Connector was that it is a red herring that the state has advocated to have an excuse never to do anything for us. They have been throwing it out for 15 years, and in that time we have probably missed out on a lot of things that should have been done. She stated that a decision should be made one way or the other, regardless of what it is, but that at this point she does not believe the loop road will ever be built. A lot of people are holding land that they cannot develop because it is currently included in a TIP.
Following much discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to agree to the following priority list.
1. Clear Creek Connector
2. US #25 North widening
3. Hwy #64 West widening - city section
4. Hwy #64 West widening - county section
5. NC #191 Widening
6. Upward Road Improvements
7. Fanning Bridge Road Improvements
8. Hendersonville AInner Loop@
9. Fletcher Industrial By-Pass
Short Street will be dropped off this list. Everyone agreed that is remains important to have flexibility to study this, and make changes as necessary. There was some discussion on the issue of #8 Hendersonville AInner Loop@. It was the consensus of the Board to simply ask the City of Hendersonville what they have in mind as far as this is concerned. There was also discussion regarding bridges. Some bridges are already being looked at, in fact there are 15 bridges scheduled to be widened in FY 01'-02'.
Chairman Hawkins then requested the Board=s input on the widening of Hwy #191. Commissioner Moyer stated that he felt that decision would be subject to the study done on the Thoroughfare Plan and the RPO to see what is right for that area. Commissioner Gordon was very concerned about widening Hwy. #191 if it is to remain a residential corridor. She was very concerned about the safety of drivers on that road if it were only widened to three lanes. Spot widening should be determined by the DOT only after careful study of what an area needs. Jay Swain gave a brief presentation on how those determinations are usually made.
Following discussion, it was decided that the TIP would be left where it is, with the flexibility to make changes based on a land review of issues such as where a connector comes in. That land review should consist of a traffic count. Hopefully, we can participate in these planning stages. The consensus was also to support the local RPO. Commissioner Moyer stated that he felt the County should come up with a coordinated plan with all aspects, including small projects.
Chairman Moyer questioned Jay Swain on how small projects get handled, since they do not go on the TIP. Mr. Swain replied that the DOT looks at those on a location by location basis. The funds for these projects are in a separate fund, and are specified as Asmall urban@, which is limited to within the city, or within a mile of the city limits. There is another fund called Aspot safety@, that covers spots where there are a high number of traffic accidents, or high traffic counts. He suggested that if the Board of Commissioners has a list of areas that need attention, they write a letter to the NC DOT asking them to look at those spots.
Following brief discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to move discussion on this topic to a future meeting.
EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION (ETJ)
Chairman Hawkins summarized some questions that have recently come up regarding the extension of an ETJ. For a municipality to extend an ETJ, it can be done in an area that is not zoned. If the county enacts county-wide zoning, it limits the possibility for municipalities to extend their ETJ.
Matt Matteson showed the Board areas on a map which are contiguous to city limits, and are potential ETJ areas. He then discussed each of those areas surrounding the municipalities. He reminded the Board that currently the City of Hendersonville shows an ETJ area of one mile. However, their population is expected to top 10,000 in the next year or two, which would entitle them to a two mile radius ETJ. It was noted that when extending an ETJ, the boundaries must follow, to the extent possible, geographical features such as property lines, roads, streams, mountain ridges, etc. In general, the city would go out to the farthest point, and then begin to pull back to the natural barrier.
Chairman Hawkins asked the Board if it wished to request the Planning Board to look at appropriate zoning for those areas contiguous to the municipalities. Commissioner Gordon discussed with the Board a situation where the City of Laurel Park would relinquish their ETJ rights if the County would enact zoning in those areas. The citizens in the area in question would prefer to have appropriate county zoning in place.
The Board agreed to send the following recommendations and priorities to the Planning Board:
1. Move ahead with safety net zoning. Proceed with classic zoning around the Laurel Park area.
2. Work on the rewrite of the zoning ordinance.
3. Study/rezone around municipal areas.
Commissioner Moyer requested discussion on the proposed Community Center, which was scheduled to be on an upcoming agenda. Blue Ridge Community College is raising money to operate this center. The long term effect for the county would be the utilities, with some revenues which would offset these costs. Additional information will be needed from Dr. Sink on this matter, and he will be invited to make this presentation at the upcoming regularly scheduled meeting to be held on February 15th.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of recent discussion surrounding consolidating various related departments into a new facility. Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that various Commissioners have been looking at some concepts. Commissioners Moyer and Ward have been looking at a Phase I, while Commissioners Kumor and Gordon have been looking at the utilization of the Historic County Courthouse. Funding for such a move could come from liquidating some current facilities, annual collection of back taxes, and using grant monies to refurbish the Historic Courthouse to be used for non-governmental offices.
The time scope on this project would be approximately five years. During that time, the interim maintenance period would involve the Department of Social Services moving into the 2nd floor of the Land Records Building, and some of the Sheriff=s Department moving into the offices at 100 North King Street. Commissioner Moyer and Ward will be looking at this plan.
Commissioner Kumor informed the Board that a meeting has been scheduled with John Horton, a historic preservationist with the State of North Carolina. The meeting will be to go over all the options for the historic courthouse. The object of this meeting will be to gather as much information as possible to have enough for a worksession on facilities. Part of this worksession should contain discussion on the possibility of creating a 501C to maintain and run the historic courthouse.
Commissioner Ward requested that David Nicholson give the Board an update on the possible jail forecast given the current forecast. Mr. Nicholson stated that he is currently looking into this. In a recent County Managers meeting, an economist for First Union stated an expected increase in interest rates of 1/2%. The numbers that have been worked out will leave some leeway to protect the county in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 1999. The rate is expected to drop by 1/4% in the 1st quarter of 2000.
There being no further business, Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman