MINUTES

 

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON MAY 11, 2000

 

 

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special-called meeting on Thursday, May 11, 2000 at 9:00 am in the Kaplan Auditorium of the Henderson County Public Library for the NCDOT Public Hearing on the Henderson County 2000-2001 Paving Priority for secondary roads.

 

Present were Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman William Moyer and Commissioner Renee Kumor.

 

County staff present was County Manager David E. Nicholson and Administrative Assistant Avalina Merrill.

 

Absent were Commissioner Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Don Ward and Clerk to the Board, Elizabeth W. Corn.

 

NCDOT officials present were:

      Ron Leatherwood, NCDOT District 14 Board Member

      Ron Watson, Division Engineer

      Ed Green, District Engineer

      Teddy Greene, Division Right-of-Way Agent

      Jay Swain, Division Maintenance Engineer

      David Hensley, County Maintenance Supervisor

      Donald Pressley, County Maintenance Supervisor

      Rob Shelton, County Right-of-Way Agent

      Danny Shuler, County Right-of-Way Agent

      Sandra Fox, Division Right-of-Way Agent

 

CALLED TO ORDER/WELCOME

Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. Approximately 30 residents were in the audience. Chairman Hawkins stated the purpose of the meeting was to conduct a public hearing on the NCDOT paving priorities for secondary roads in Henderson County during 2000-2001. He reminded the audience that concerns about the T.I.P. (Transportation Improvements Program), safety concerns, etc. would not be heard during the public hearing. Those issues could be addressed by the citizens to the NCDOT officials present after the conclusion of the public hearing.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

Chairman Hawkins introduced Ron Leatherwood, NCDOT District 14 Board Member, and asked Mr. Leatherwood to proceed with the public hearing.

 

Mr. Leatherwood explained that he is the representative for NCDOT District 14 which includes Henderson County. He stated that in his opinion the secondary road program is the fairest distribution of funds in State government. Each County receives a proportionate amount of money in direct relationship to the amount of unpaved roads in the County. As an example, if the County has 1% of the State's total number of unpaved roads, the County gets 1% of all money that is allocated for paving secondary roads. The mountains have been served better by this program because it costs about 30% more to pave roads in the mountain areas due to its terrain. Currently, this division ranks second in the amount of funding. This year this division gets a total of $28 million plus which is about 12% of the total State funding. Henderson County which has the most unpaved mileage in this division will get the largest share of the division allocation for a total in excess of $5 million. The share that will go to the construction of secondary roads will be $3.8 million. These figures represent the funding that is available for next fiscal year's program. For roads that were prioritized in previous years but have not yet been paved, that money is still available and will stay with Henderson County for those projects. NCDOT has three lists of roads that they work from and they are rural roads, subdivision roads and right-of-way refusals. The right-of-way refusal list is for roads that were prioritized previously but NCDOT was unsuccessful in obtaining right-of-way from property owners on that road. DOT then drops down to the next road on the priority list. The priority list is determined by counting the number of houses, number of seasonal homes on a road, the number of businesses, churches, the number of school bus routes and the average daily traffic count on a road. Those factors go into a formula that gives a road a number of points. The length of the road is then divided into the total number of points. For example, suppose a road a mile in length has a 100 points, and a road a half mile in length had a 100 points. When the points of the half mile were divided by the length, the 1/2 mile road would get 200 points and thus ranked higher on the priority list. The last time the paving priority list was done was in January 1997 and a new count will be done in January 2001, which will result in a new priority list. Any roads that work their way up to the top 10 on the priority list will be frozen. By State law, the newly counted roads can only come up to the top 10 roads on the list. DOT must complete work on the top 10 before they can begin work on the newly counted roads. Mr. Leatherwood stated that at the end of the public hearing, he would ask the Commissioners to adopt a resolution approving the proposed plan.

 

Mr. Leatherwood then introduced Mr. Ron Watson. Mr. Watson gave brief comments on his experience with NCDOT. Mr. Watson asked Jay Swain to make comments on the Henderson County projects. Mr. Swain explained that the lighter attendance at this meeting was the result of more roads in the County being paved during past years and the fact that NCDOT had complied with the paving priority list in completing projects. Ed Green explained that copies of the paving priority lists for 2000-2001 were available for the audience. For 2000-2001, NCDOT proposed to pave approximately 19 miles and $3.1 million dollars will be spent on those projects. Mr. Green then read the list of roads on the priority lists. The list began with roads on the subdivision/residential with priority # 109. Everything lower than 109 on the priority list has been paved, in process of paving, working on getting the right-of-way or has been moved to the refusal of right-of-way list.

 

Priority # State Road Number Road Name

109 SR #1257 Old Bobs Creek

110 SR 1145 Osceola Inn Road

111 SR 1914 Red Bird Road

112 SR 1589 Whitehead Road

113 SR 1838 L. M. Morgan Road

114 SR 1295 No Name

115 SR 1607 Possum Hollar

116 SR 1598A Cemetery Road

117 SR 1859B Bright Road

118 SR 1835 Macedonia Church Road

119 SR 1889 Shaffer Road

120 SR 1952 Doris Drive

121 SR 1615 Laughter Road

122 SR 1290 Riverwood Road

123 SR 1294 No Name

124 SR 1929 Roland Jones Road

125 SR 1561 John Maxwell Road

126 SR 1670 Fletcher View

127 SR 1829 Kay Road (East)

128 SR 1603 Hudgens Road

129 SR 1711 Appeola Road

130 SR 1533B Old Asheville Highway

131 SR 1605A High Falls Road

132 SR 1122 Glassy Mtn. Road

133 SR 1113 Maybin Road

134 SR 1179 Midway Drive

135 SR 1564 Lanning Mill Road

Total 10.75 miles

 

Mr. Green stated that if any of those roads were put on the right-of-way refusal list, the roads listed on the Subdivision/Residential back up would be moved up to the primary priority list.

 

Mr. Green read the priority list of rural roads that would be paved during 2000-2001.

Priority # State Road Number Road Name

26 SR 1712 Ledbetter Road

27 SR 1578 Townsend Road

28 SR 1573 Kyles Creek Road

29 SR 1318 Alison Road

30 SR 1832A Pace Mountain

31 SR 1102 Anders Road

32 SR 1857 Zirconia Mail

33 SR 1840 S. Fork Creek

Total 7.84 miles

This program is subject to availability of funding, right-of-way, and environmental review.

 

Mr. Leatherwood further stated that tremendous progress had been made in paving roads due to the $900 million road bond issue voters passed in 1996 and $150 million of that bond issue was for secondary road construction. Those funds were used to accelerate the paving program within the last three years. The program will slow down a little now without the bond money. The State goal was to do all the roads that had 50 ADT (average daily traffic).

 

Mr. Leatherwood stated that Henderson County has 51 miles of roads that are on the right-of-way refusal list. Lists were available of roads with unavailable rights-of-way. He explained the DOT condemnation policy to obtain right-of-way. If there are refusals on a road, DOT will pave that road if there are two refusals or less or 20% of the homeowners whichever number is greater. DOT will allow condemnation along any corridor or road. Any interested party can sponsor the condemnation. The price of condemnation is $2500 per condemnation plus any damages. For example, if someone has a rock wall worth $4000 along the road that will not give up for the right-of-way, DOT would send an appraiser. If the appraiser determined the rock wall was worth $2000, the interested party then would have to come up with $4500 in a bond or money. DOT would take over the condemnation process at that point and that is all it would cost the interested party. DOT then takes it to court. If the court deems the rock wall to be worth $3000, DOT then makes up the $1000 difference. Typically, the loss of the five-feet right-of-way is offset in the increase in appraisal value to the property because of being on a paved road as opposed to being on a gravel road. Commissioner Moyer questioned how the roads on the unavailable right-of-way list got back on the paving priority list. Mr. Leatherwood stated that the party interested in proceeding with the condemnation would contact Ed Green who would contact the right-of-way department. Once the condemnation process was started, the road would go to the bottom of the priority list. Commissioner Moyer asked if the property owners who refused right-of-way before changed their mind and gave it, would the same procedure be followed whereby that road would fall in the slot at the bottom of the list. Mr. Leatherwood stated that was correct and that condemnation takes six to eight months so getting rights-of-way speeds up the process.

 

Mr. Leatherwood announced that three members from the audience had signed up to address the NCDOT officials about their concerns on roads listed on the paving priority list.

1.      Joan Husni 101 Orchard Hill Saluda NC 28773 749-2378

Ms. Husni wanted to know on the secondary roads if the right-of-way needed was 45 feet. Mr. Green explained that the right-of-way on roads was 50 feet for through roads. DOT can cut the right-of-way to 45 feet on dead end roads of less than 1/2 mile. Ms. Husni questioned what the insistence for the 45 feet right-of-way was on Jud's Peak Road which has only four tenths mile of road. Ed Green explained that on a road with a 45 feet right-of-way, the paving would only be 18 feet wide. In addition to the 18 feet of pavement, DOT needs room for shoulders and ditches to properly drain that road. So the graded width would be approximately 35 feet. Back slopes are needed to maintain it which is four or five feet on each side bringing the total needed to 45 feet. Ms. Husni further stated that originally the right-of-way was 40 feet but now DOT was requiring 45 feet. She felt the 45 feet right-of-way was overkill and would result in a ribbon of pavement. That amount of right-of-way would deter property owners from granting right-of-way. The road is a dead end road, not a through road, and the main problem would be drainage. She stated that DOT promised to do an environmental review before undertaking a paving project on a road and felt that DOT had not done so for that road. Mr. Green stated that DOT had met on several occasions with the residents on that road. Mr. Leatherwood explained that roads built in the past are today deemed as sub-standard. Currently an on-going discussion in legislature is whether 16-foot wide mobile homes will be allowed on NC roadways. If that were passed, where in WNC would these mobile homes be able to make safe passage? The other issues are maintenance and safety. Mr. Leatherwood stated that where there are no safety issues, some discretion could be used by DOT but they try to treat everybody equally or they are seen as not treating anyone fairly. So there has to be a guideline to go by and there is a certain amount of wiggling (discretion) they have got, but they don't have a lot. Mr. Leatherwood explained to Ms. Husin that DOT must plan for the future although the existing generation may not see the need for that 45 feet right-of-way. He further stated that poor planning of the past has created major problems for NCDOT today. Ms. Husin also expressed her dismay about the maintenance on Orchard Hill Road. She stated that when DOT maintenance scrapes the road, they cut the gravel away which leaves a blanket of clay and that creates slippery conditions during wet weather. Mr. Green explained that the biggest problem on that road is property owners who have landscaping to the edge of the road do not want to give up their landscaping. DOT has restaked the road at least twice and is trying to work it out with them. Ms. Husin thanked DOT officials for their time and hoped they would reconsider and come out again and look at Orchard Hill Road.

 

2.      Joel Worley 10 Beddingfield Drive Zirconia NC 28790 693-5901

A lady from the audience asked permission to make comments before Mr. Worley spoke. She stated that although the previous lady (Ms. Husin) had expressed concern over the DOT 45-feet right-of-way, consideration must be given to the wide fire trucks that must travel these roads to get to those residents. Mr. Worley asked the status of some roads that were approved last year. These roads were on last year's list but did not appear on this year's priority list. They were Gap Creek Road, SR 1100 and South Bob's Creek Road, SR 1101. Mr. Green stated that for South Bob's Creek Road, DOT does have the rights-of-way and it will be built as soon as DOT can get to it. DOT has a backlog of eight to ten roads but it should be built later this summer or this fall. On Gap Creek Road, DOT only has 16 out of 19 rights-of-way and is still working on those. Mr. Leatherwood stated that the three right-of-way refusals were less than twenty percent so the property owners could pursue condemnation. Mr. Worley inquired about the status of Service Road, which is on the back-up residential list, SR 1288. He commented that Service Road is five down on the list and questioned if it was a possibility that it could make it to next year's priority list if roads on this year's list did not have enough rights-of-way. Mr. Leatherwood stated that the length of that road was four miles so DOT would have to have forty percent right-of-way refusals. Mr. Worley stated that Service Road was built with sixty feet right-of-way and questioned if rights-of-way would be necessary. Mr. Green stated that most likely DOT could pave it without additional rights-of-way.

 

3.      Tina Hooks Route 2, Box 185 Hendersonville NC 28792 685-0591

Ms. Hooks stated she is a resident on Kyles Creek Road and likes living on the gravel road because it promotes a slower traffic pace. She stated that the residents on that road are divided in their quest for the paving of that road. She commended the DOT officials, with a special thanks for Mr. Shelton the Right-of-Way agent, for working with those residents.

 

No other residents had signed up to speak but Mr. Leatherwood permitted members of the audience to address the DOT officials.

 

4.      Mr. Nick Weedman, 130 Barney Creek Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731, 693-5302, addressed with DOT officials the status of a road on the Rural Back-Up list, Priority #34, SR 1114A, Pinnacle Road, US 25 up to Mt. Olive Road. He stated he lived in Kenmure but was within one mile of this road. This road runs behind his house. Mr. Weedman stated his opposition for paving this road for two reasons, one being safety. The intersection of Pinnacle Mountain Road and US 25 sets on the crest of the road and is in a curve. If that road is paved, a safety hazard will be created for residents who have access and egress there, without significant changes. Mr. Weedman also expressed concern that if the road was paved, it would pose a security concern to the gated community in Kenmure. He stated that a portion of the road does not have a significant average daily traffic count and wondered if DOT would pave a portion of a road and leave the portion with a low ADT undisturbed. The portion with a greater ADT would be from Sky Top Orchard and Mt. Olive Road. Mr. Weedman stated the residents in the middle of that road would possibly want that section paved. Mr. Leatherwood explained that if the ADT of a portion of the road was excluded, if those residents changed their mind in the future, it would move that road a little farther down the priority list. Mr. Green stated that in 1997, the traffic count on that road was 120.

 

5.      Ms. Mary Jo Padgett addressed the NCDOT officials as the Executive Director of the Environmental Conservation Organization. Ms. Padgett questioned in the secondary road scenario where does approving secondary roads, like Clear Creek Road and those roads that are heavily trafficked that maybe need some curves straightened out, fit into this program. Mr. Leatherwood explained that right now the DOT is spending the money on paving secondary roads. However, there have been cases where DOT ran out of roads with rights-of-way and DOT has moved on to improving some sub-standard paved roads and do some widening. But the major priority is to pave roads. There is a little of money available for doing such improvements but it would be limited to small spots. Ms. Padgett commended DOT for the widening of shoulders on Kanuga Road and inquired if other monies could be found for more road improvements of that nature. Mr. Leatherwood stated there is a State-wide pot of money that is used to resurface roads and a percentage of that money is used to widen roads that are narrow. Ms. Padgett questioned if this was the forum where citizens can address those types of issues as well as secondary road paving. Mr. Leatherwood stated that indeed it was but that maintenance needs state-wide of the road systems were about three quarters of a billion dollars and NCDOT was about two hundred sixty or seventy million dollars short of that annual need. That's part of the reason that DOT doesn't have the funds to fix all safety problems. Ms. Padgett questioned if lobbying state legislators for maintenance money would be a good idea. Mr. Leatherwood stated that Senator Carpenter talked about transferring about $170 million of State trust funds and earmarking it for maintenance rather than putting it back into the general fund which would take up about 50% of that shortfall. Mr. Leatherwood explained that funding has not grown fast enough to keep up the maintenance of the heavily traveled roads. Ms. Padgett commented on the volume of citizen comments about the extraordinary width of right-of-way needed by NCDOT to get a road paved. She requested that the NCDOT officials help us maintain the rural flavor of the community. It is a land-planning issue as well as an esthetical issue, helping us grow and yet maintain a fine balance environmentally and aesthetically. The third concern Ms. Padgett expressed was about the erosion control level during paving projects. She challenged DOT to do a better job with erosion control because it is creates major problems with water quality.

 

Another member of the audience questioned the maintenance part of the budget as to how does DOT respond to a citizen petition where DOT is requested to straighten out a curve or widen a shoulder. Mr. Leatherwood responded stating that the DOT Division is very responsive to the citizens inquiries and concerns and work with the citizens to resolve those issues within the guidelines as dictated by DOT and financial burdens they have to deal with normally. The citizen questioned where those types of requests should be routed, to Mr. Leatherwood or to Mr. Green. Mr. Leatherwood responded that those requests should go to the Division, District Engineer or the Maintenance Engineer. He stated it doesn't hurt to let the Commissioners be aware of it because DOT is very responsive to the elected officials. They represent the citizens and they have a better feel for what's going on in the community than Division DOT officials do. Commissioner Kumor commented that's why the Commissioners established the Transportation Advisory Committee. The Commissioners know there a lot of little places around the community that the neighborhood wants addressed. One of the TAC's goals is to make sure that those concerns are addressed with DOT. Commissioner Moyer is the Board's representative on that committee.

 

Mr. Leatherwood stated on the resolution that DOT was asking the Commissioners to adopt on the funding program, $775,000 was designated for spot-type improvements such as widening of existing curves. That amount will not be sufficient to allow for full scale widening or improvements but it will permit DOT to do some pointed improvements in isolated spots and will result in more bang for the buck. Commissioner Moyer questioned whether the $775,000 was designated for Henderson County. Mr. Leatherwood responded that indeed it was for this County only. He encouraged the citizens to advise Ed Green or the Commissioners of safety needs and DOT would work with the TAC to prioritize the funding based on those needs.

 

Mr. Leatherwood turned the meeting over to Chairman Hawkins. Chairman Hawkins asked for a motion to approve the resolution recommending the $3,874,663 funding program for Secondary Road improvementS in Henderson County. Commissioner Moyer made the motion. All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting at approximately 10:00 am.

 

APPROVED BY:

 

 

Grady Hawkins, Chairman

Henderson County Board of Commissioners

 

 

ATTEST:

 

 

 

Avalina B. Merrill

Acting Clerk to the Board