STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON OCTOBER 28, 2002
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chair Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Grady Hawkins, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Planning Director Karen C. Smith and Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He explained that the purpose of this meeting was a public input session for the Commissioners and Staff to receive public input on the draft of the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite. The Planning Department and the Planning Board worked very hard on this, produced a draft and sent it to the Commissioners some time ago. The Commissioners have been going through the process of evaluating what they sent and adding comments. The Board has not adopted anything and will not adopt anything tonight. The Board now feels the draft is in sufficient form to bring it to the public. The Board will likely have future workshops where they review the comments and revise the draft. There may be another meeting for comments at a future date.
He asked those who wished to speak to make their comments but to please not ask questions. The Board was interested in hearing citizen input. He also reminded people that they could submit written comments that would be considered.
PUBLIC INPUT on
DRAFT ZONING ORDINANCE REWRITE
1. Brooks Stepp - Mr. Stepp resides in the Mountain Home area. He and some neighbors came tonight to address an issue about a zoning map, Highway 25 and Mountain Home area. He would like some more stringent conditions in his area as far as zoning.
Chairman Moyer explained that tonight was for comments on the text only, not the map yet. We have not come up with a new map as yet. We are trying to come up with enough flexibility that when we do look at the county that we have flexible enough districts to work and help solve what people want accomplished.
Mr. Stepp responded to a question from Commissioner Messer, stating that they are most concerned about the Mountain Road and Wickens Drive area and around the post office. They are concerned about the abandonment of mobile homes, garages that are not in working condition, and abandonment of vehicles and frames as well as the condition of some of the mobile homes that are occupied.
Chairman Moyer explained to Mr. Stepp that the appropriate thing to do would be to sit down with Karen and explain to her their concerns.
2. Dr. Henry S. (Sandy) Beck, III - Dr. Beck is the Director of Missions of the Carolina Baptist Association which is comprised of sixty Southern Baptist Churches, most of which are located either in the City of Hendersonville or in Henderson County. They have about 22,000 members in this area. He asked why churches were being singled out. He stated that he did not find a definition in the ordinance for a non-profit organization. He finds the fact the Board defines a church as being restrictive. He asked why the Board needed to define a church.
AAccording to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 passed by the 106th Congress in the second session, I think you may well be on questionable legal ground. Have you studied - I know you have an attorney. Has this been studied by your attorney and by this Board?@ He distributed a copy of the Act he just mentioned.
Dr. Beck felt that the ordinance discriminates against Christians. He objected to the signage regulations, setbacks, and buffers. He asked the Board to take a Ahands-off@ approach to churches.
3. Rev. Tommy Hart - Rev. Hart is the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Horse Shoe. He expressed concern about this new ordinance. He voiced concern about the definition of church in the ordinance and stated that the definition excludes other ministries which a church might undertake such as: day care, nursing homes, orphanages, rooming/boarding houses, and special congregate facilities. He did not understand how these ministries could be harmful to a community. He objected to the restrictions on signage, flags, and times of usage. He stated that one place in our ordinance allows an adult establishment to have a sign with a square footage of 70 sq. ft. per face and illuminated with a 150 watt bulb but a church can only have a sign of 16 sq. ft., why?
4. Rev. Wayne Owen - Rev. Owen is the pastor of Forge Valley Baptist Church and stated that he agreed with the previous speakers. Some of the restrictions in the ordinance would really hurt your smaller churches.
5. Henry E. Holcombe, Sr. - Mr. Holcombe said an AAmen@ to what had already been said. He is not a Henderson County resident but he does attend Forge Valley Baptist Church and is the Superintendent of Sunday School there.
6. Leon Allison - Mr. Allison spoke about the separation of state and church. AIf schools don=t want the 10 commandments in there then the Commissioners shouldn=t regulate the churches.@ He objected to the signage, parking, and flags as listed in the ordinance.
He asked the Board to not regulate churches and to strike everything related to churches from the new ordinance.
7. Clyde E. Nelson - Mr. Nelson is from Bobs Creek Baptist Church in Zirconia. His church has been in the process of building for some time but are presently in the Aholding@ status. Their septic system has already been approved. He was wondering how this ordinance would affect them in building, their parking, etc.
8. Robert Shipman - Mr. Shipman also attends Bobs Creek Baptist in Zirconia. He addressed the signage. He stated that everybody in the world has a sign for everything they want. AYou know you can ride down the road here and see a woman standing up with a beer bottle, a beautiful woman, representing the devil basically and she=s allowed to stand there with that but we gotta have a small sign. We can=t put the words of God where people have to look at them but we have to look at the devil=s trash.@ Mr. Shipman stated that the church belongs to God, not us.
9. Ralph Lewald - Mr. Lewald also had some concerns about the Mountain Road, Wickens Drive area, near the post office and the Mountain Home Fire Department. Some of the trailers and homes are very dilapidated with abandoned vehicles. There are sanitation issues that should be addressed. He understood that this might not be the best meeting to try to address this issue.
Chairman Moyer stated that as far as the language in this draft ordinance and whether it would deal effectively with the issues raised, it does need to be looked at from that standpoint.
10. Charles Rogers - Mr. Rogers is the pastor at Stoney Mountain Baptist Church. He stated that Stoney Mountain is in compliance with all building codes but that they would not be in compliance with the new signage requirements in the revised ordinance. They asked for the freedom to worship. He asked the Board to please strike restrictions on churches out of this ordinance.
11. Joe Mullins - Mr. Mullins is pastor at Balfour Baptist Church. He asked the Board what the intent and advantage was of a definition of churches. He asked how it would benefit the county to make such a definition. He asked the Board to not define churches, to leave that area alone.
12. Darlene Brown - Ms. Brown asked Awhy would you want to define a church@? She also mentioned that the ordinance gives more footage sign space to an adult establishment than to an establishment of church.
13. Jim Clayton - Mr. Clayton first of all thanked the Board for starting a revival in our county. He asked the Board to protect the church. He didn=t know how to protect it unless you define it but he felt the church still needs protection from adult establishments and alcohol sales in the vicinity of our churches. He asked for protection without limiting what a church is.
14. Eddie Conard - Mr. Conard is pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Zirconia. He asked the Board not to restrict churches. He mentioned food ministries and clothing ministries that the church handles now that they might not be able to do with restrictions.
15. Tony Bryant - Mr. Bryant asked the Board to pray real hard and find it in their hearts to do what=s right.
16. Ken Fitch - Mr. Fitch asked if the signage restrictions apply to other organizations and does it apply to city government. Is this an across the board restriction? He also mentioned cell towers and stated that the ordinance does not mention a type of cell tower that masks as a tree. He mentioned ridge tops and the canopy in discussion of cell towers in the ordinance.
There was no one else who wished to speak.
Chairman Moyer thanked everyone for coming out and sharing their thoughts and concerns with the Board. The Board will certainly take all of them under consideration as they move forward.
Commissioner Hawkins commented to Dr. Beck in answer to the question of why the need to define church. AThe answer is we don=t and we ought not to be doing it, it=s a steeple too far for us to get to . . . I=m personally opposed to sign restrictions, parking restrictions, and other restrictions on a church and I hope the other Commissioners are.@ AAt some point in our development of the ordinance we started becoming aware of some churches, synagogues, masks, whatever that - and this is primarily in other places across the country, had started operating other businesses you know in their church and I think that kinda goes back to what Mr. Clayton was talking about of protecting the church if that be the case. I don=t think we got down this road terribly off direction in that regard but I don=t think that we need to be trying to define church anymore than you all can define it and we certainly can=t define and we=re gonna end up in a bad place and I=m not going to be voting for an ordinance that=s got it in it but we still have a lot of problems to contend with. I=m glad to see you all here and worried about what government does and how government gets in your life because you need to be.@
Commissioner Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:56 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board
William L. Moyer, Chairman