STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA                                           BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON                                                                                     MAY 4, 1999


The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 10:00 a.m. in the Commissioners= Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.


Present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chair William Moyer, Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, County Manager David E. Nicholson, Staff Attorney Jennifer O. Jackson, Interim Planning Director Karen Smith, Planner Suzanne Vernon, Planning Department Administrative Assistant Kathy Scanlan and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.


Also present were the following members of the Planning Board: Mary Jo Padgett, Tedd Pearce, Chuck McGrady, Jack Beattie, Raymond Ward, Bill Blalock,  Rebecca Nesbitt, and Walter Carpenter.



Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance.  He stated the purpose of the meeting was for a joint meeting with the Henderson County Planning Board regarding a rewrite of the Zoning Ordinance.



Chairman Hawkins welcomed Mike Legg of Benchmark, and asked him to provide a scope of the services they provide, and any revisions to the project time line. Mr. Legg stated that he is the project coordinator on this project, and introduced Julia Cogburn who is also with Benchmark. He stated that he has been working with Matt Matteson to get this meeting together, for the purpose of resolving some of the major issues from the onset.


He then summarized the steps Benchmark will go through to get the project on track.

1.               Today=s meeting. Sharing the details on issues, and background information that has been


2.         Discuss the feedback that has been received on safety net zoning. For example, what the Board is trying to accomplish with Safety Net zoning, how that fits with what is being done, and if Benchmark can assist with that.

3.               Begin public education, continuing data gathering, and interviews. They will talk with community leaders, get feedback from them, and then begin to let people know what zoning will mean to them.

4.               Draft an ordinance, based on the objectives everyone has decided on.

5.               Submit that Draft to the Planning Staff, and County Manager, and start rewrites and make adjustments based on their specifications.

6.               Take that Draft to the Planning Board, and have them make additional recommendations.

7.               Bring a final draft to the Board of Commissioners.   


Chuck McGrady questioned where the big picture of problems within the ordinance arose. Mr. Legg stated that meetings with Planning staff have taken place. Based on such meetings, it was determined that a complete rewrite was needed.


Don Ward expressed that his main concern is the lack of an RC classification. He would like to see an RC District that does not have a lot size restriction which would be implemented like a safety net zoning. If a group wished to increase their zoning classification, it would just be a change of zoning classification. He would like to see a classification to zone the whole county one time, and work on higher levels of classification as needed.


Grady Hawkins stated that Bill Moyer has been working with staff on a set of activities to which the Board would like to apply standards. Chuck McGrady stated for the Planning Board=s information, he had received a letter from Chairman Hawkins telling the Planning Board to hold up on safety net  zoning because the Board of Commissioners would be working on a first draft.


Mr. Moyer spoke to the idea of safety net zoning. From a drafting standpoint, safety net zoning would be the least restrictive of the zoning classifications. His target is to get this draft to the Planning Board in July for their opinion. He noted some of the opinions from the Board on zoning:

1. There are far too many classifications, and that number needs to be reduced.

2. Many ordinances have been adopted, should they be blended into the zoning ordinance.

3. Cluster developments are an issue, and how to protect open space and natural features.

4. From an overall standpoint, the Board is looking at more flexibility to deal with growth, and the

    local culture and character of the land.


Commissioner Ward left at this point in the meeting.


Commissioner Kumor commented that she was pleased to have Benchmark involved in this project, to lend their expertise and assist with the details. She hoped to develop an overall goal that will drive future zoning issues, and will help Henderson County develop itself in a way that will leave something for the future to develop.


Commissioner Gordon expressed that she felt this rewrite would probably be one of the most important things that would happen to Henderson County during her time as a Commissioner, and she wants to make sure it is done right. She wants to see a rewrite that will have the ability to adapt, and flexibility. It is important to zone for now and for the future. She also felt that special use districts are overused, and that classification should be used with more caution. She also wished to streamline the ordinance, making it easy to read and easy to understand.


Chairman Hawkins added that the Board should look at continuity in definitions between ordinances, such as manufactured vs. stick built homes, and try to come out of this process with an integrated product. Additionally, he wished to come up with some way to reward innovative thought in land use. He suggested that groups to talk to would include the League of Property Owners, the League of Women Voters, surveyors, earthmovers, the Planning Departments in the municipalities, and most importantly, citizen input.


Members of the Planning Board then gave input on the rewrite:


1. Chuck McGrady - Mr. McGrady stated that some ideas that have come from the Planning Board include the existence of too many classifications, too many free standing ordinances, and no integrated product. He stated that the Planning Board is seeking guidance and direction from the Board.

2. Mary Jo Padgett - Ms. Padgett stated that Henderson County currently has a balanced lifestyle. She likes that we still have farms in the county, and feels that most people like the rural feel. Tourism is also a major part of our economy. Tourists come because of the way we have preserved mountains, hillsides, streams, open fields, and natural resources. Retirement and banking are the other parts of our economy. She hopes that these groups will be included when Benchmark goes out into the community.


3. Walter Carpenter - Mr. Carpenter questioned how policy issues get changed, and which districts will be done away with? He feels most of these decisions should be left to the group present today.


4. Jack Beattie - Mr. Beattie expressed concern that affordable housing is becoming harder to come by, and we should be sensitive to that issue throughout this process.


5. Rebecca Nesbitt - Ms. Nesbitt stated that the younger, working class should be included in talks.


6. Tedd Pearce - Mr. Pearce stated that the municipalities should work with utilities adequately, to make lot sizes and things of that nature affordable. If lots must have wells and septic systems, it quickly runs up the costs.


Commissioner Gordon stated that she felt it important that process not get so hung up on issues like  density and type of housing. She doesn=t want to limit what they do based on what has already been done. It is important to see what has worked in other places, but the end product needs to be our own.


Angela Beeker, Assistant County Manager, arrived at this point in the meeting.


Raymond Ward reinforced his opinion that we should look at quality of life. He reminded the Board that there is no way to regulate how much a bank or developer charges for land, and no way to ensure that rented trailers provide affordable housing.


Commissioner Kumor questioned whether the purpose of this meeting was to discuss redoing the zoning ordinance or if the Board should first determine when it wants to go. Mr. Legg stated that generally there are some basic ideas that must be dealt with, and the community should come to grips with what they want their community to be. They get that general consensus from the interviews within the community.


Tedd Pearce stated that the end product should leave enough flexibility to allow market forces to decide where the density levels end up. Commissioner Gordon stated that you can have flexibility and still provide standards that reduce impact on adjoining properties. The real question is how to create integrated communities that can co-exist.


Bill Blalock stated that he sees trends emerging, and wonders what impact new zoning will have on what developers build. What is the bottom line impact of what these decisions will produce.


Chairman Hawkins added that the effect of local topography must be included in any planning. That topography includes the northern part of the county which is in a watershed and falls under state regulations. Mountainous terrain also plays a part, combined with farmlands which are controlled  by statute. When you take out these areas, it does not leave a lot of land. For this reason, it is crucial that this project be done right, you can only do it once.


Chairman Hawkins recommended that the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Board have another joint meeting to update each on what progress has been made. This will give the Board a chance to look at issues such as policy questions that may arise.


Chuck McGrady asked what the Board saw as the timetable for this project. Mike Legg stated that they would move forward with the community scoping effort in May, June and July. In July they will have some first draft of the new classification or category, whatever form it takes. Mr. McGrady asked whether the Planning Board should be involved in safety net zoning. Chairman Hawkins stated he would prefer they begin their efforts with the community involvement. 


There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting.





                                                                                                                                                              Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board                        Grady Hawkins, Chairman