STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON FEBRUARY 25, 1999
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 3:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building. This was a scheduled work session on the Proposed Noise Ordinance with an update from Blue Ridge Community College and some discussion regarding Chamber of Commerce/Agriculture.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair Bill Moyer, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, and County Manager David E. Nicholson, Assistant County Manager Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present was: Staff Attorney Jennifer O. Jackson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He stated that the first item on the agenda would be the Agriculture Project presentation. Prior to going to that item he asked the Staff Attorney to update the Board regarding the pending lawsuit by Asheville Citizen Times.
Jennifer Jackson reminded the Board that she had put a copy of an Order in the Multimedia Publishing of North Carolina case in each Commissioners= box. She received the order this morning in favor of Henderson County. We have won that and they said that we were properly going into closed session on November 12 and upholding the county=s ability to go into closed session to consult with an attorney. She expected that there would be an appeal from Asheville Citizen Times. There is a 30 day time period for appeals.
AGRICULTURE PROJECT PRESENTATION
Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board had been having some correspondence with Joy Staton and her folks at the Cooperative Extension Office and the Chamber of Commerce for the last several months. Henderson County faces a dilemma in agriculture, particularly apple production in view of the devastating year they experienced last year both from the weather and the market. The Board of Commissioners wanted to take a look to see what kinds of things could be done to address the situation.
Joy Staton, Director, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Henderson County, expressed appreciation to the Board for the opportunity to work with our farmers who are facing difficult times. Agriculture affects all our lives. Throughout the years our farmers in Henderson County have given much of their time and efforts to make our community what it is today. It is time for our community to help give back some assistance to the farmers. Ms. Staton stated that one thing they have been looking at is the global economy. In Cooperative Extension Services they are an outreach of the College of Agriculture and Earth Sciences at North Carolina State University. Their agents are Field Faculty Members of North Carolina State and their mission is to provide education to help individuals, families, and communities improve the quality of their lives. They have recently been looking for a project that could stimulate economic growth in the world of agricultural production. She asked the Board to consider looking at the proposal that staff will present today.
Status of the Agriculture Industry in Henderson County - AEconomic Impact@
Marvin Owings discussed the agriculture industry with the Board, stating that in Henderson County Industry is 41%, Tourism is 19%, Retirement is 27%, and Agriculture is 13% of our economy for a total of $88,291,352 income in our county
He explained Farm Income Estimates for 1997 as follows:
Nursery & Greenhouse $ 51,559,160
Fruit Production (mainly apples) 15,635,625
Vegetables and Berries 7,690,400
Field Crops 725,710
Totals = $ 88,291,352
Of about 8,000 acres in tree fruit production in Henderson County, there are 6,000 acres in bearing apple trees and 2,000 acres in non-bearing trees (young trees).
He stated that this year Henderson County will lose about 1,000 acres of fruit trees. There will also be some abandoned orchards.
The Present Status of the Apple Industry in Henderson County
Ken Barnwell explained the five major goals of the project entitled ANC First@:
C To promote & stimulate the economic growth of the agricultural resources of Henderson County and Western North Carolina through a community oriented partnership of cooperation between the farming community, County & State Government, the Business Community, and education institutions.
C To support the farmer and enhance the farming community by sustaining and expanding agricultural wholesale and retail markets.
C To promote a positive AQuality of Life@ in our community that is brought about by a vibrant agriculture industry and a preservation of our natural resources, our open green spaces and our environment.
C To promote and support AN.C. First@ project legislation as directed by the Board of County Commissioners to promote the purchase and the use of N.C. Agriculture Products AFirst@ before the purchasing of products that are outside North Carolina and outside the United States.
C To promote a healthy agriculture economy in order to sustain a diverse and strong economy within Henderson County in collaboration with the other main revenue producing areas of manufacturing, retirement, and tourism.
Proposal for an Agriculture Development Project - ACooperative Partnership Between Agriculture Industry/County Government/Chamber of Commerce@
Fred Pittillo discussed briefly the involvement of the Chamber of Commerce (Agriculture Committee) in this issue and agriculture issues in general. Commissioners and other elected officials have asked the question for years - What can we do to help agriculture?
He stated that many of the farmers in our area are trying to decide what they are going to do, whether to continue to farm, to sell their land, or what. He felt it would take the cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce, the Commissioners and other elected officials and the farmers to actually do something in this County to benefit the farmer.
Agriculture Industry/County Government/Chamber of Commerce Cooperation - APartnership in Agriculture Development@ and AHistory of Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee Process@
Bob Williford, President of the Greater Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce, stated that Henderson County is blessed with a balanced economy. He called attention to a chart which showed our balanced economy but the changes in it through the years:
1980 1990 1997
#1 was Manufacturing #1 was Manufacturing #1 was Manufacturing
#2 was Agriculture #2 was Retirement #2 was Retirement
#3 was Retirement #3 was Agriculture #3 was Tourism
#4 was Tourism #4 was Tourism #4 was Agriculture
The Chamber has an Agriculture Committee that has been in place for years. Some of the agriculture issues being discussed:
C Dumping (of apple concentrate by the Chinese)
C Use of Migrant Workers
C Increased State Marketing Efforts
C Economic Development - The Committee of 100
Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce Commitment to Support Special Agriculture Project Proposal APartnership with Agriculture Industry & County Government@
Ray Cantrell, Executive Director of the Committee of 100, explained that all the money received through the Committee of 100 is for economic development. He mentioned Advantage West and Carolina West and how they could help. He stated the need for communication and working together for all those involved. There is always a challenge.
Joy Staton shared an article with the Board that appeared in the Times-News entitled AFarmers: Trustees of green space@. This article was written by one of the Henderson County Agriculture Agents, Mark Lancaster. She particularly called attention to a section of that article which read AMarkets will decide who survives; but we must ensure that producers in our community have the most competitive advantage that we (as a community) can provide; not only for the economic prosperity of the grower, but for the whole population in the sense of community, environmental quality and ultimately, our quality of life.@
Chairman Hawkins stated that many months ago the Commissioners met with the members of the Planning Board and discussed the issue of the loss of agriculture land in our county. It takes resources. He stated that the Board of Commissioners had worked very closely with the Committee of 100, particularly in industrial economic development. This is a new subject for the Board to attack - Agriculture Issues.
Joint Project Director
Action needed today was the establishment of a Special Project Director with the project to be agriculture development, targeting the apple industry immediately. Everyone in attendance appeared to be in support of the joint venture.
Ken Barnwell reviewed the recommended Project Director responsibilities with the Board. There was discussion of this being a county employee working in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce. It is critical that they need someone NOW, in the next 4 - 6 weeks.
Commissioner Moyer stated that the Planning Board, through a special committee, addressed this for about three years. They came up empty with respect to these same issues and a recommendation. A lot of it was the failure of the industry to support any of the proposals that had come forth. He stated that he would support a person to work on the agriculture project, but not a special project person for the County to work on anything. He felt that we have enough project employees. He suggested putting a 2 year limit on it and getting a report as to what is produced in the 2 year time. If it justifies itself and the cooperation is there from the people in the industry, then we could consider continuing the position.
Following much discussion, Commissioner Ward made the motion that the Board support the project proposed and direct the County Manager to examine the project and utilize the current County Staff for a project director, not to hire an additional person and to give the project a 2 year time limit. He asked that the Manager bring back a job description to the Board for the project director. This person would work on agriculture projects specifically for the first two years. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Fred Pittillo stated that this was a very cooperative and positive thing that the Board of Commissioners had done today.
At 4:30 the Board recessed for apple cider, apple chips and other refreshments.
BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (BRCC) - Proposed Auditorium
Chairman Hawkins recognized Dr. Dave Sink at this time. Dr. Sink stated that when the Allied Health Building was built it was designed to include a 460 seat teaching auditorium. They did not have the money to complete it so it has been shelled-in for some time. The rest of the building is complete and they have been using it now for several years. The auditorium includes video conferencing for distance teaching. Dr. Sink explained that NC Representative Larry Justus was successful in getting the two million dollars they needed to finish the 460 seat auditorium. They have been in the process of working with the architect again to draw the plan to finish the auditorium. In the process of doing this, the College leadership was approached by some people in the community wanting to know if this could be made a larger auditorium, 1,000 or 1,100 seats, prior to spending the two million dollars. BRCC is interested in redesigning the auditorium. They put together a committee to explore the possibilities. The committee is headed by Bill Vineyard, retired General Manager of General Electric; Durese Jasma, President of the Hendersonville Symphony; Lynn Neill, a member of the Hendersonville Symphony; Will Haney, Foundation Director at BRCC; Frank Byrd, Director of Counseling at BRCC, and Dr. Sink. They brought in the architect again who said that a turnkey job for completing an 1,100 seat auditorium with the video conferencing capabilities would be five million dollars. Representative Justus will get two million dollars towards the project. The challenge for the BRCC Trustees is to make a decision on whether to draw down the two million dollars from Representative Justus and complete the auditorium with 460 seats or to engage in an aggressive fund-raising project of three million dollars so that they can redesign the auditorium and make it 1,100 seats. They have submitted a proposal requesting one million dollars from the General Electric Foundation. They have met with the senior staff people and Congressman Charles Taylor. They have submitted a proposal to Congressman Taylor tying their request in to his economic development initiative for Western North Carolina which links nine community colleges. They requested three million dollars in that proposal. They have begun a behind-the-scenes public fund-raising effort from the private sector for $500,000.
Dr. Sink stated that if the BRCC Trustees approve and the Board of Commissioners approve the new initiative, they anticipate that the annual maintenance for an 1,100 seat auditorium would be between $160,000 and $175,000 (management, security, maintenance). He explained that they planned to charge $450.00 per event to try to defray some of the annual maintenance costs. If they had 50 events per year they would get $22,500 yearly toward those costs. This would leave a balance of $130,000 to $150,000 per year.
Dr. Sink explained that they currently have 1,200 parking spaces on campus and that appears to be adequate for the larger auditorium. He also explained that this is the first time for BRCC to request maintenance fees in 2 - 3 years.
There was discussion that a previous Board of Commissioners had basically approved the auditorium years ago when the project was presented and voted on. This Board would need to take action because of the proposed expansion and increased cost of the project and on-going maintenance costs.
Following discussion, it was the consensus of the Board that if the BRCC Board of Trustees approves this at their up-coming meeting on March 8 and if BRCC gets the funding then this request would need to come back to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners. Chairman Hawkins asked the County Attorney to be ready to address this issue with the Board at Monday=s meeting, informing the Board of any additional action the Board needs to take, etc.
REVISED NOISE ORDINANCE
Jennifer Jackson, Staff Attorney, had distributed a hand-out of the Revised Draft Noise Ordinance. A number of people have had input into this revised draft.
Ms. Jackson reviewed the changes with the Board:
#1. The major changes involve a limitation on the prohibited acts to those specifically listed in Section VI if those particular activities exceed the decibel levels stated. Everything else, including all construction, commercial, industrial and agricultural activity is allowed. Commercial activity would include amusement parks and sports centers and those activities would, therefore, not be regulated by this noise ordinance.
#2. The Board had asked that the APresumption in Prosecution@ language from the Raleigh Noise Ordinance be included. It has been inserted at Section XI. Ms. Jackson expressed great concern about the constitutionality and enforceability of this section and recommended that this section be deleted. Both the Sheriff=s Office and the District Attorney=s Office had expressed similar concerns as evidenced by letters dated February 22, 1999.
Following discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to delete Section XI (page 9).
#3. The District Attorney=s Office had expressed a concern about a flood of cases in District Criminal Court arising from noise complaints. As mentioned in their letter of February 17, 1999, they would prefer that all noise complaints be enforced through civil penalties and only if those penalties fail, resort to criminal penalties. Violations of county ordinances, however, are misdemeanors under NCGS 14-4, and therefore, criminal penalties are legally available and in most cases may be the only effective means of enforcing the noise ordinance. The Sheriff=s Office had submitted some comments in letters dated November 18, 1998 and January 14, 1999 regarding the resources that they will need in order to enforce the noise ordinance. These comments were written in response to the original staff draft
prepared in October 1998 and the original Task Force draft submitted in January. Many changes have been proposed since then.
There was much discussion including but not limited to civil vs. criminal remedies.
It was the consensus of the Board to include camps under #8 on page 7.
It was the consensus of the Board to add Aand acts specifically prohibited by Section VI@ to #14 on page 7.
It was the consensus of the Board to approve the change of the decibel level in Section VIII from 60 to 80 for daytime and from 50 to 60 for nighttime hours. This had been included in the new draft.
#4. The effective date of the ordinance had been changed to July 1, 1999, so that the County will have ample time to purchase sound meters and to train staff on the proper use of the equipment and the enforcement of the noise ordinance.
Commissioner Moyer made the motion for the Board to adopt the Noise Ordinance with the changes that were discussed at this meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting at 5:32 p.m.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman