STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON AUGUST 29, 2002
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 at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chair Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Grady Hawkins, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, County Manager David E. Nicholson, Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn, Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley, Assistant to the County Manager Selena D. Coffey, Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Planner Nippy Page and Consultant Dennie Martin.
Also present were County Comprehensive Plan Advisory Board members Tedd Pearce, Bill Blalock and Hall Waddell.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was a workshop on the County Comprehensive Plan.
COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Dennie Martin informed the Board that staff had prepared notebooks containing all the pieces of information that had been generated, such as the research and data collected. He stated that staff and the committee had completed the initial draft, and the plan was ready for the Board to establish the policy decisions. The term used for that general policy framework was the Growth Management Strategy. His purpose at this meeting was to discuss that Growth Management Strategy, receive direction from the Board on issues of concern, and leave with the ability to apply the principles that come out of the workshop.
One area of importance is the schedule. Mr. Martin stated that very little progress had been made in the past few weeks because other county priorities had diverted resources. There were also several incomplete elements that were very important to the plan, such as transportation. He advised the Board to either push ahead without that information or to wait until some of the transportation and water and sewer issues were resolved.
Mr. Martin briefly discussed the original Power Point presentation, explaining that it was based on a more detailed document. He reminded the Board that since that document was distributed, several changes and refinements had been made by the Advisory Committee, and that information had been distributed to the Board. Selena Coffey stated that this information was the revised Growth Management Plan.
Mr. Martin then reviewed the revised Growth Management Plan. He explained that the main difference between this Plan versus the 1993 Land Use Plan, was the much broader scope of the project. The most important element of the current Plan is the policy portion, the policy statement of the county in terms of growth management. Subsequent planning will all be based on that statement. He explained that he wished that statement to reflect the expectations of the Board for future growth, and discussed how the make up of the county will reflect in that statement.
Mr. Martin stated that the planning group had tried to assign portions of the county to different types of growth paths. He explained the characteristics of the various paths and the growth related demands placed on those paths. Three paths were identified: Henderson Urban Corridor, Rural Communities, and Rural Agricultural Regions. Each of the areas was important because they all have different requirements and needs, and they generate different demands on county government and the environment. They should all be treated differently in the areas of services such as water and sewer, transportation, and schools. Those areas had been defined on maps, and policy framework should be created that will permit staff to deal with issues like land use, water and sewer, transportation, and economic development based on the growth paths.
He further explained that the three growth paths had been divided in the text into subheadings that provide a basis of comparison. Those subheadings were population, land use, economic development, essential services and infrastructure, environmental considerations, and planning and organizational structure.
Chairman Moyer expressed that the county should maintain a balance between tourism, agriculture, industry and retirees. He felt it critical that growth in these areas be dealt with in the growth management strategy. Mr. Martin stated that he felt the county should develop a policy on how it wants to manage growth, and formulate the economic development plan based on the general policy. He stated that he and Ms. Coffey are currently working on an economic development element, but are waiting on the Chamber of Commerce to finish its economic plan dealing with industry. They are trying to develop this as a starting point, from which the Board can develop a policy on how to guide the growth in the areas of tourism, agriculture, industry and retirees.
Commissioner Hawkins discussed populations and regulations used to control density, siting transportation and water and sewer extensions in particular. He stated the Commissioners could express what they would like to see in these areas, but would still not have very much control over them. He was concerned about the overall effectiveness of the plan given these limitations. He also discussed the use of interlocal agreements with the municipalities, and the difficulties inherently involved in such a process. Mr. Martin agreed with Commissioner Hawkins= assessment, and stated that leadership was the most important role the county could play in the process. There was much discussion between Mr. Martin and the Board on the importance of water and sewer lines.
Bill Blalock stated that another dynamic for the Board to consider was the eventual impact to the existing infrastructure. He referred to county issues such as schools, solid waste, public health, social services, libraries and the animal shelter. Impacts to this infrastructure will eventually have to be funded by the county. Commissioner Gordon agreed that this was an issue, and that it was important to balance growth in the infrastructure with growth in revenue.
Karen Smith reviewed several maps for the Board. She discussed in detail maps that showed existing land uses such as the urban corridor, and rural communities. There had been adjustments made to the boundaries of some rural communities such as Dana and Mills River, and Ms. Smith discussed why those changes had been made. She explained that the land use plans from the municipalities had been mapped, stating that Flat Rock and Saluda did not have a land use map but staff had converted their zoning maps.
Commissioner Hawkins stated that it would be hard to plan the whole county at one time, but he felt the Board had a chance to really do some good planning in the areas south of Fletcher and north of Hendersonville. He felt the same opportunity existed east of Hendersonville on Highway 64. Commissioner Gordon agreed that some areas could be identified as a priority in beginning planning, while others would not be in need of planning for some time. Chairman Moyer expressed concern, stating that the Comprehensive County Plan was being developed for the entire county, not just pieces of it. Mr. Martin agreed that the plan will be for the entire county, but the plan will also be flexible enough to deal with the diverse needs of the county as necessary.
Mr. Martin spoke at length about how the plan will eventually be applied to the whole county. He stated that the financial priorities should be to serve areas where economic development is occurring and where there are densities that demand infrastructure services. He discussed example of areas where density is great enough for sewer service to sustain itself. He also stated that the plan should discourage development occurring in areas which would require the county to build a new set of infrastructure that would not be economically self sustaining. He expressed that ultimately, the plan would allow the Board to apply it=s resources in areas that will sustain positive economic development. He continued to discuss how those steps would occur, pointing to local cooperation and the leadership role of the county.
Bill Blalock briefly discussed the changes to the maps that Karen Smith had covered earlier. He spoke in particular about the Dana Community, explaining why Dana had been defined as a rural community. He also stated that it had been decided to show Mills River as a rural community using their proposed incorporation boundary.
Commissioner Gordon questioned several of the principles on which the strategy was being based. She noted the following items, questioning whether they were things that were or could be included.
1. The philosophy that as much as possible, uses be allowed by right within parameters. That allows people to know what the rules are up front and makes the process more fair for everyone. She felt that such a principal should not be limited to the zoning ordinance, but could be a philosophy applied to growth management.
2. She expressed concern over being too specific about some of the infrastructure improvements. She would like to see the option included in the plan that decisions on infrastructure could be made over the course of the next 10 - 20 years.
3. She also expressed concern over the criteria for some of the rural agricultural areas, particularly in how that criteria might affect property values.
Mr. Martin agreed that a great deal of flexibility was necessary, especially in the rural areas because of the mixed uses. He felt the Board should have the flexibility within the plan implementation devices, such as zoning, to allow the flexibility of mixing uses while preventing uses that would detract from the character of the community.
Commissioner Hawkins questioned a statement within the plan which stated Ano new economic development encouraged within the boundaries of the rural community areas.@ He stated that those areas comprised probably 60% of the county. He felt that would translate to no economic growth within the rural community areas, unless a private developer wished to develop the infrastructure.
Mr. Martin answered that this was a difficult area to address because the rural areas were so different. Some areas would be suited to future development, but in some there was more of a need to retain the character of the community. Chairman Moyer requested that this be reconsidered. He felt that limiting economic development in that many areas would strangle the county. Mr. Martin stated that the plan should say what the Board wants it to say, and that he would rewrite that section with the Board=s concerns in mind.
Tedd Pearce spoke to ways in which the different segments of the community, such as tourism and agriculture, work together. He felt that a lack of planning and zoning made people in the county feel their property values were at risk. He agreed that there are items that the county cannot control, but the county should provide those services of which they are in control. He felt that an adopted plan would give people the freedom and safety they need.
Hall Waddell agreed that it was critical that the plan include enough flexibility to address change that occurs. He felt that economics would drive where growth eventually goes. He stated that his biggest fear was that state and federal dollars would end up dictating how planning is done. He also agreed that the county would have to take a leadership role, especially in the areas of water and sewer.
Commissioner Ward stated that he felt the plan was well laid out. He did feel that the map should be identified and adjusted to the plan, kind of back into it.
Commissioner Messer agreed with all the comments about having flexibility in the plan. He stated again that he felt the Board should take as much time as necessary, and have the plan be as accurate as possible.
Commissioner Hawkins stated that the areas the county has no control over concern him in producing a workable plan. He stressed the need for flexibility within the plan so that it doesn=t become immediately obsolete.
Commissioner Gordon stated that the Board should back off some of the text issues, and that the map will fall into place. She felt people should have a better comfort level and have an idea of what might happen within the community.
Chairman Moyer stated that he felt we should push ahead with the plan. He felt that the county could not afford to wait on separate pieces such as transportation or water and sewer.
Mr. Martin confirmed that his role in the process was to give the Board points of departure, put things down on paper and maps, and help staff get to the point of giving the Board something from which to work. He stressed again that once the plan is finished, it should be the Board=s plan.
Chairman Moyer added to that, that the Board had selected an advisory committee that they had great confidence in to advise Mr. Martin and staff. He hoped that process would continue to work well.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Commissioner Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 4:58 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman