STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA                                                                    BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON                                                                                           FEBRUARY 18, 2004


The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.


Those present were:  Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, 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, Paralegal Connie Rayfield, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Fire Marshal Rocky Hyder, County Engineer Gary Tweed, and Finance Director J. Carey McLelland.  Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through nominations.



Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance.



Chairman Hawkins led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.



Rev. Victor Rampey, Main Street Baptist Church, gave the invocation.



Chairman Hawkins asked that one item be added under Update on Pending Issues – update on the Homecoming for the 211th MP Unit. 


Chairman Hawkins asked that items “B & C” be pulled from the agenda – “B” to be on the mid-month meeting agenda and  “C” will be addressed at a later date. Both these items were listed under “Discussion Items – “B”– Correspondence from the Village of Flat Rock and “C” – Affordable Housing Coalition”.


Chairman Hawkins put his requests in the form of a motion. There was some discussion. 


A question was called on the motion.  A vote was taken and the motion failed three to two with Commissioners Hawkins and Young voting aye.


The consensus of the Board was to add the update on the 211th Homecoming.


Discussion continued regarding items “B & C”. 


Commissioner Moyer made the motion to approve the agenda with “B & C” to remain part of the agenda.  A vote was taken and the motion carried four to one with Chairman Hawkins voting nay.



Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the consent agenda as presented.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.



Draft minutes were presented for the Board’s review and approval of the following meeting(s):

            January 28, 2004, special called meeting


Tax Collector’s Report

Due to software problems, no Tax Collector’s Report was received.


Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant

Staff had received a request from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department to proceed with a grant request for additional equipment for the Highway Safety Program.  This grant is for equipment and requires no match.

The County Manager recommended the Board authorize the filing of the grant.


Petition for addition to State Road system:

Staff had received petitions to add the following roads to the State Maintenance System:

            1. Quail Lane

            2. Holly Tree Hill


It has been the practice of this Board to accept road petitions and forward them to NC Department of Transportation for their review.  It has also been the practice of the Board not to ask NCDOT to change the priority for roads on the paving priority list.


Apple Country Greenway Commission – Annual Report

The 2003 Annual Report was submitted as specified in the Interlocal Agreement for the Board’s information.  No action was required.


Local Emergency Planning Committee – Annual Report

The 2003 Annual Report was submitted for the Board’s information.  No action was required.


Water Line Extension

The City of Hendersonville had requested County comments on a proposed water line extension for Phase IV of the Riverwind Subdivision in the Etowah community.


This was conditionally approved by the City Planning Board.  Submittal of notice that NCDENR had received erosion control plan; provision of additional plan and plat details; and final approval of water system.


The project does not conform with the County Land Use Plan.  It does not fully conform because the Urban Services Area Map in the 1993 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) did not anticipate that public utilities would be available to the subject property during the Plan’s 10 year span.  Also, the Land Use Plan map in the CLUP designates the subject property for “Agriculture” uses, probably due, in part, because portions of the subject property appear to be within the 100 year floodplain of the French Broad River. 


Regarding adequate hydrant location and spacing – Adequate spacing exists in section 4.  Hydrants would also need to be located at Riverwind Drive and White Ashe Circle; Riverwind Drive and Sassafras Court; and Riverwind Drive and Paisley Court to meet the 1000 ft. hydrant spacing requirement.


No comments were offered. 


Notification of Vacancies

The Board was notified of the following vacancies which will appear on the next agenda for nominations:


1.         Fletcher Zoning Board of Adjustment – 1 vac.

2.         Solid Waste Advisory Committee – 3 vac.

3.         WCCA Board of Directors – 1 vac.



Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of the following vacancies and opened the floor to nominations:


1.            Agriculture Advisory Board – 1 vac.

Wayne Carland and Garrett Griffin had been nominated at the February 2 meeting.  There were no other nominees at this time.  The Clerk polled the Board and each Commissioner got one vote.  Garrett Griffin received three of the five votes and therefore was appointed.


2.            Downtown Hendersonville – 1 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


3.           Equalization & Review – 3 vac.

Commissioner Young nominated Ted Carland.  There were no other nominations at this time.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Carland by acclamation.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


4.         Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee – 1 vac.

Chairman Hawkins nominated Richard Barnwell who had been recommended by the Committee.  There were no other nominees.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to appoint Mr. Barnwell by acclamation.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


5.           Henderson County Transportation Advisory Committee – 2 vac.

The following were nominated on February 2:  Ron Schwartzel, Paul Stepp, and Rick Merrill.  There were no additional nominees at this time.  The Clerk was asked to poll the Board.  Following several tries the appointees were Paul Stepp and Ron Schwartzel.  


6.         Historic Courthouse Corporation – 7 vac.

Eight nominees from the February 2 meeting were:  Judy Abrell, Ruth Birge, Argie Taylor, George Jones, Theron Maybin, Ron Stephens, Spence Campbell, and Tom Orr.  The Clerk polled the Board.  The two low vote getters were Ruth Birge and Spence Campbell with three votes each.  The Clerk will poll the Board to break the tie at the next meeting.


7.            Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority – 1 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


8.         Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 1 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


9.           Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee – 6 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


10.            Planning for Older Adults Block Grant Advisory Committee – 6 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


11.        Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.


12.        Solid Waste Advisory Committee – 1 vac.

There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.



Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that the purpose of this agenda item was to update the Board on the status of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and to request that the Board set the first of two required public hearings.


Mr. Nicholson had been working with the NC Rural Center and the NC Division of Community Assistance on receiving a $400,000 grant to assist with the construction of a waterline to serve citizens in the Howard Gap Road and Brookside Camp Road area who are dealing with contamination from the leak from an underground storage tank.  He was assured by both of these agencies that these funds have been earmarked for this project.  However, in order to receive these funds, we must follow the Division’s processes.  The first requirement is a public hearing that is general in nature and would allow for any citizen to offer a project for consideration for a grant.  At this hearing, staff will formally present this project to the Board.  Staff would then request a second public hearing on a specific application for CDBG funds for this project.


One of the issues outstanding is the administration of the grant.  Mr. Nicholson stated that he does not have staff that is familiar with the requirements of the application or the administration.  In the past, we have contracted with either Land of Sky Regional Council or with an outside agency.  He had received a letter from the City of Hendersonville indicating their willingness to administer the grant.  However, after speaking to the City Manager, they both agreed that Land of Sky would be the best agency to administer the grant.


Mr. Nicholson requested that the Board set a public hearing on the possibility of applying for a CDBG grant for March 8, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. The City of Hendersonville has already done a preliminary engineering report on this project and will share that information. 


Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set the public hearing for March 8 at 7:00 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.



Karen Smith  mentioned that at the February 2 meeting there was discussion about the Board having the opportunity to review a project outline or draft document well in advance of the Board holding a public hearing and adopting the CCP.  The County Manager indicated at that time that staff would look at the CCP schedule and the meeting schedules for the CCP Advisory Committee and the Planning Board and would bring the item back to the Board of Commissioners for discussion.


A draft project outline for the CCP was presented.  Staff had provided text in the outline that explains, at least generally, the proposed contents of each section and subsection.  The outline is also going to serve as a table of contents for the draft CCP.


In order to meet the project schedule  approved by the Board of Commissioners in March of 2003, it had been staff’s goal to deliver to the Commissioners a final draft of the CCP by June 1, 2004.  From this point forward, the CCP Advisory Committee and the Planning Board will be meeting jointly every few weeks to review portions of the CCP text as staff and other agencies assisting staff completes them.  The next joint meeting of the Advisory Committee and the Planning Board was scheduled for Monday, February 23, 2004 at 4:00 p.m.


Ms. Smith and other staff expected that a working draft of the CCP should be in sufficient form by the end of April such that the Board of Commissioners may want to consider scheduling a joint meeting with the Advisory Committee and the Planning Board for the first week of May.  An early May meeting would allow time for staff to make revisions and print the final draft in time to deliver it to the Board of Commissioners by the first of June.


Following discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to set the joint meeting under Important Dates on this agenda.



Chairman Hawkins stated that recently the Board enacted a new Animal Control Ordinance, Chapter 66A of the Code, to be effective March 1, 2004.  The municipalities were notified of the new Ordinance and were requested to adopt a resolution permitting the new ordinance to be effective within the municipality before March 1, 2004 if they wished the County to enforce the ordinance within their boundaries.


At agenda preparation, we had received only one resolution – from the Village of Flat Rock. 


Angela Beeker had prepared the draft resolution for adoption by the municipalities.  She passed out copies of the other four, having only received the last one yesterday.  She had prepared five identical resolutions for adoption by the Board of Commissioners.


Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adopt all five resolutions as presented consenting to have the Animal Control Ordinance effective within all the municipalities and enforcing it on their behalf.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.



At the Board’s last meeting, staff was asked to bring back quotes to lease 19 Chevrolet Impala Police Vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department.  Staff requested operating lease financing quotes from eight leasing companies for these vehicles having a total cost of $345,870.30.  The companies were asked to provide quotes for terms of 12, 24, 36, and 48 months.  Not all of the companies offered operating lease financing for law enforcement vehicles and therefore did not provide a quote and some only quoted for specific terms. A summary of the quotes received from the leasing companies was included for Board review.


Ontario Fleet Leasing Company, a company that had been providing vehicle leasing to local governments in North Carolina, submitted the lowest quote resulting in the lowest cost to the County for the term selected.  For a 36 month term with this company the total payments would be $281,167.32, due to the residual value of the vehicles held by the leasing agent.  A copy of the lease was provided for Board review.  These vehicles will be added to the lease as an additional schedule.


Staff recommended that the Board consider approving the lease rate with Ontario Fleet Leasing Company for 36 months and the accompanying budget amendment transferring the funds from Long Term Debt to the Sheriff’s Department Lease of Vehicles line-item.


Mr. Nicholson recommended the Board approve the lease arrangement and the budget amendment.


Much discussion followed.  Carey McLelland had gotten a lease quote from eight different companies.


Commissioner Moyer made the motion to approve the lease agreement and budget amendment as presented by the County Manager.  A vote was taken and the motion carried three to two with Chairman Hawkins and Commissioner Young voting nay.


David Nicholson mentioned the additional vehicles for the Sheriff as well as those for the general county.  He had previously given staff direction to purchase these off the State Contract.  However, he has now pulled that direction back and has directed Carey McLelland to work with Rocky Hyder to develop a set of bid specs for that.  Mr. Nicholson felt it was appropriate to get bids from local dealers. 


There was some discussion of updating our vehicle replacement policy or even developing it into a long-range vehicle master plan.   



This is an effort to keep the lines of communication open.  It gives the Chairman an opportunity to bring the Board up to date on issues that occur between meetings.  It is also the time for direction so that we can develop our public position on current and upcoming topics.



David Nicholson updated the Board regarding the Duke Power line that runs across the property on the Spartanburg Highway that the county purchased where the Carolina Apparel building now sits.  There have been several variations offered. Currently the powerline goes right across the middle of the property which would limit the use of the property.  The Board had previously approved the relocation of the powerline.


There was some discussion of wooden power poles versus metal power poles.  Hunter Nissan is on one side of the property and Harper’s Marine and Yamaha is on the other side.  All three property owners need to work together on the project.  Mr. Nicholson’s goal on the project has been to free up as much land as he can on our property and to get as much parking on our property as he can.  Mr. Nicholson showed the current proposal on a map of the property.  Mr. Harper’s Attorney had submitted a letter stating they are willing to agree to the relocation as indicated by Mr. Nicholson but he would prefer that Henderson County pay the cost because we will get the long-term benefit by not cutting off a chunk of our property. 


Mr. Nicholson laid out an additional option of purchasing the back part of Mr. Harper’s property, amounting to what Duke Power will require for the right-of-way.  Mr. Harper is willing to sell that piece of property to us for $4,000 and then we would pay Duke Power to move the line to our property.  Mr. Harper wants a non-exclusive easement to be able to park vehicles in that right-of-way.  We would also be able to park vehicles in that right-of-way.


 Henderson County needed to move the line anyway and had money programmed to do so.  With this option we gain some additional parking, get additional land, and save $30,000 - $40,000 from the projected cost to us.


Mr. Nicholson requested that the Board authorize staff to develop the documents and proceed with purchase of the piece of property from Mr. Harper and proceed with Duke Power’s relocation of the line.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion to direct staff to proceed with the plan as outlined.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.




Strategic Plan

David Nicholson and staff had prepared a draft document and distributed it to the Board entitled “Responsibility Charting & Calendaring”.  He reviewed that chart with the Commissioners.  He explained that under each action step was a list of responsible parties, the lead name is the lead organization or person to put it together. Mr. Nicholson felt this was a fairly aggressive schedule.


Staff will develop a flow chart of month by month activities to accomplish to keep up with all these projects and responsibilities.


Chairman Hawkins felt that the Board needed time to review the 15-page document and then put this on the next agenda so the Board can modify/adopt the chart. 


211th Homecoming

Chairman Hawkins updated the Board on the 211th Homecoming Celebration. Several Commissioners turned out to meet them at the airport.  The 211th was deployed for almost a year.  There was a very nice ceremony presented for them at the Haywood Community College which Henderson County participated in. 


Chairman Hawkins spoke with the Company Commander, Captain Price, in finalizing our plans for greeting the troops back.  Those plans should be in final format by the end of this week. An invitation had also been extended for the whole unit to attend if they so choose. 



At 10:15 a.m. Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into closed session as allowed pursuant to NCGS143-318.11(a)(1): To prevent disclosure of information that is privileged or confidential pursuant to the law of this State or of the United States, or not considered a public record within the meaning of Chapter 132 of the General Statutes as allowed by and pursuant to NCGS 131E-97.3. 


All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go out of closed session.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.   



1. Dick Baird – Mr. Baird congratulated the Board on the Strategic Plan, a great on-going effort that will pay off big time for the Board.


He addressed vehicle procurement, stating that somebody deserves a penalty.  There was a clear Board of Commissioner policy that we would buy vehicles.  He stated that the only person getting a penalty is the tax payer who is paying for this mistake.


He addressed public transportation and reduced class size, opposing each. 


2. Rick Livingston – Mr. Livingston is Vice-Chairman of the Fire & Rescue Advisory Committee as well as Assistant Fire Chief and member of the Board of Directors of Mills River Fire and Rescue.  He spoke as a representative of the Fire & Rescue Advisory Committee (as the Chairman is out of town on business) as well as all of the Fire Departments in Henderson County.  He stated that they are unanimously opposed to the proposed change in changing from the Per Capita Method of Sales Tax Distribution to the Ad Valorem Method.  They met Monday night with Mr. Nicholson, Mr. McLelland, Mr. Moyer, and Mr. Messer.  Mr. Livingston stated it was abundantly clear that the Fire Departments have nothing to gain and potentially much to lose if this change is enacted.  The risk and the uncertainty which this change would impose on all the fire departments should be reason enough in itself to not implement this change.


He mentioned that several of the departments contract with municipalities for which they provide fire and rescue service.  If the change is implemented these departments would be forced to make drastic reductions in the level of service provided to the residents of their districts.   He mentioned the timing of the proposal, stating that most fire departments, if not all, are well into their budget planning and development process for the coming year.  He stated that we currently have a system in place that has worked well for many years, not only for the fire departments but also for the citizens in the communities they serve.


The fire departments in this county are continually striving to plan for the future, move forward, and improve the level of services which they provide.  “The proposal that you’re considering will severely undermine these efforts.”


Mr. Livingston stated he would type up his comments and get them to the Clerk to the Board because they wish for them to be made a part of the minutes of this meeting.


Chairman’s Comments:  The County had a workshop with the Fire Marshal scheduled with the fire departments earlier which got canceled due to weather.  The meeting was finally held this past Monday night.

The Board has been talking about and looking at this possible change in tax distribution methods since last year about this time.  He addressed the bottom line stating that there would be no change in the amount of monies the fire districts would get. 


Mr. Livingston stated that was not what concerned them, it was the risk and uncertainty of not knowing.


Chairman Hawkins stated that the full Board would be glad to schedule a meeting and meet with the fire departments as they do each year during the budget deliberations. 


Mr. Livingston stated that the fire departments were greatly disappointed that only two Commissioners showed up for the meeting on Monday evening.  The Board originally had a workshop scheduled which was canceled or postponed due to weather which should have left open time for the Commissioners to attend that meeting.


3. Howard B. Norton – Mr. Norton  is secretary of the Henderson County Fire Commission, has been on the Fire Commission for 28 years.  The Chairman has been on the Fire Commission over 30 years and the third member, Mr. Hyder, was a fireman in the Edneyville District.  They all have a long history in fire administration.  He presented a letter from the Fire Commission of Henderson County to go into the minutes of this meeting, attached hereto.  He read the letter stating the Commission was unequivocally and unanimously opposed to the proposed changes in the funding of the Fire and Rescue Departments.  He stated that the present fire tax method has worked well for over forty years and any changes would cause uncertainty and be worrisome.  He felt these changes would open the door to politically motivated further changes by both future Board of County Commissioners and the State Legislature.  The Fire Commission requested that the Board “Please do not enact these changes”. 


4. Ray Shaw – Mr. Shaw stated that the Village of Flat Rock is totally opposed to changing from the Per Capita Distribution of Sales Tax to the Ad Valorem method. 


5. Mike Edney – Mr. Edney addressed the hearing the Board plans to set under Important Dates on this agenda, stating that he expects 500 or more witnesses at that hearing so he requested that the Board set it as a special called meeting in a different location so that we could deal with a larger group of people.  Secondly he asked that the Board include on that date a public hearing on a proposed text amendment.  If the Board goes that route as opposed to the variance route, it would mean that they wouldn’t need the variance.  He had given the proposed amendment to Karen Smith.  Mr. Edney stated that they have two issues, one being the 500 foot set back and secondly 2 miles away from nursing homes.  His client can comply with everything else.  Under the variance he’s asking to go from 500 feet to 100 feet and from 2 miles to 1/3 mile.  He wished to give the Board the option of amending the ordinance just in case they agree with him that it’s a good location, it’s just that from 500 to 100 is too much to swallow at one time and 2 miles to 1/3 mile is too much to swallow.  Basically it would give the Board another option.  The Planning Board looked at that issue and told Karen to tell the Board of Commissioners to look at that issue. He thought they told the Board to look at those specifics but Karen Smith thought they told the Board to look at the whole motocross issue. 


Mr. Edney stated that his client has a lot of money tied up in this and has mortgage payments every month and he would like to see this thing resolved as soon as possible, before it goes into bankruptcy. 



Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into public hearing.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Rocky Hyder reminded the Board that on January 21, 2004 the Board had established a public hearing for this date for the following new road names:


                        Proposed Name

                        Shadow Dane Lane

                        Williams Acres Lane

                        Pine River Road

                        Cow House Road


Public Input

There was none.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go out of public hearing.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adopt the road names as presented.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.



Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into public hearing.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Rocky Hyder reminded the Board that every six months they bring to the Board addresses that they have changed or amended in some way in the previous six months.  A list was presented for the Board’s review of the changes (8 pages of typed changes).  These changes occurred from August 2003 through February 2004.


Public Input

There was none.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go out of public hearing.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the addresses as presented.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.



Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that the Board needs to continue a Quasi-Judicial Hearing or to reconvene.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set the hearing for Monday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room.  All voted in favor and the motion carried. 


The Board discussed a tentative date for the Public Hearing on Special Use Permit Application #SU-03-01 (as amended) and Related Variance Application# BOCV-03-01 (as amended) for a Motocross Racing Facility – Mr. J. Michael Edney, on behalf of Mr. George Andrew Bennett, Applicant.  Thursday, April 1 at 6:00 p.m. was discussed with staff finding a location for that meeting. That meeting will formally be set at the March 1 meeting.     


Karen Smith informed the Board that the Planning Board, in addition to making a motion on the special use permit, made a motion that the Board of Commissioners study motocross facilities in relation to the definition of motorsports facilities as defined in the zoning ordinance and ascertain whether they should have different requirements placed on them than for other types of motor vehicles.  They didn’t make any specific recommendations on any specific text amendments at that time. The Planning Board would like some direction on this item.


There was discussion of a need to set a meeting with the CCP folks.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set May 4 at 6:00 for a joint meeting on the CCP with the Planning Board and the Advisory Committee. All voted in favor and the motion carried. 


There was some discussion about setting budget workshops.  Staff will bring a calendar back to the Board at the March 8 meeting. 


There was mention that the Board needed to discuss budget philosophy also.



Angela Beeker informed the Board of a request from the Housing Assistance Corporation for the Board to compromise on the penalties assessed against their project, Parkview Apartments.  In January, due to some court decisions, the Assessor notified Housing Assistance that their property, Parkview Apartments, no longer qualified for an exemption from property taxes.  The Assessor therefore processed a discovery on the apartments pursuant to NCGS 105-312.  Pursuant to this statute, it was presumed that the property was taxable for the immediately preceding five years and the statute mandates the Assessor to assess penalties (105-312(h)).  However, the statute provides that the Board may compromise on the taxes, the penalties, or both contained in the tax bill generated as a result of the discovery (see 105-312(k)).


The Housing Assistance Corporation, through their Executive Director, Ken Perkins, had therefore requested that the Board exercise the discretion granted to the Board by NCGS 105-312 (k) and waive the penalties.



Chairman Hawkins called a short technical recess, to change videotapes.


Ken Perkins, Executive Director, The Housing Assistance Corporation, explained that they are a non profit affordable housing agency in Henderson County.  They had an issue that had come up which was presented to the Board of Commissioners for an appeal on a penalty that is being placed on a taxable property. 


He gave a little history on the taxable property, stating that Parkview Apartments was built in 1997, funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).  A limited partnership was put together to own this particular apartment project.  Housing Assistance Corporation is one of the partners.  The rest of the partners are for profit people as well as the State of North Carolina.  Mr. Duncan learned through a process of different court hearings throughout other parts of the country that LIHTC properties are taxable.  When the apartments opened he appealed to the tax office to have an exemption put on the property and that exemption was granted.  More recently they have found that action was incorrect and the property is taxable.  The taxes due amount to $38,000 and the amount of the penalty is in excess of $13,000.  While Mr. Perkins agrees that past taxes are payable he does not feel that the penalties are justifiable.  They did step up to the plate to present their willingness to list the property as taxable real estate and will obtain a check for the past due taxes as soon as the penalty issue is resolved.  Another tax credit property called Hillside Commons will also be subject to taxation in year 2004. 


Payment of this penalty would greatly burden their home repair, homebuyer education, future building and other affordable housing efforts in Henderson County. They do not have sufficient funds to pay the additional penalties and therefore were seeking an early and favorable response.


Stan Duncan, Tax Assessor, explained that he is without authority to negotiate or abate any applied penalties and is without authority to do anything other than apply the penalties as have been set forth.  He stated that he and his staff are not in dispute of the facts. 


Mr. Perkins received a letter on December 5 from Paul Kimball with the NC Housing Finance Agency and shortly thereafter Mr. Perkins was in the Assessor’s office to meet and discuss this.  Some additional research was done in the office and Mr. Duncan contacted Mr. Perkins by letter.  All the typical and required procedures have been followed for a discovery.


Mr. Duncan stated that Mr. Perkins was requesting this under a special provision in the discovery statutes, 105-312(k) which says that this Board and this Board alone has the power to compromise, settle, or adjust the county’s claim for taxes arising from this discovery.  The penalties that were imposed are statutorily directed.  He had no choice but to put those penalties in place and he does not have the authority to take them away from the discovery action.  The only possible source of relief for the taxpayer is to come before the Board of Commissioners as Mr. Perkins has done.  The Board has discretion to compromise all the penalty, a portion of the penalty, or none of the penalty.


Chairman Hawkins asked for Angela Beeker’s advice to the Board on the Tax Assessor’s interpretation of this.  She stated that the Board has a lot of discretion.  She felt the Board needed to have a basis for their decision because they have the same power with regard to every discovery that is made and should use that discretion wisely. She felt that if the Board decides to compromise on all or a part, a public policy reason should be stated to clearly state why the Board feels this is a good thing to do. 


Following discussion, Commissioner Moyer made the motion to waive the penalties and ask the County Attorney to draw up an order stating the findings of fact and the public  policy.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.




Re: Sales Tax Distribution

Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that the Village of Flat Rock had sent the Board of Commissioners a letter of concern over the possibility that the Henderson County Commissioners may change the method of distribution of sales tax from per capita to ad valorem.  If this were to occur, the Village would be deprived of its major source of revenue.  The citizens in Flat Rock feel that a portion of the sales tax they pay should be returned to the Village government.  They see the County rewarding itself by adopting a method of sales tax distribution that discourages efficient government.


The Village of Flat Rock would welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Commissioners an interlocal agreement that would return a portion of the sales tax to the Village for a specified time period.  There is a precedent for this type of interlocal agreement.  He included a copy of such an agreement between the City of Jacksonville and the County of Onslow for Board review. 


Angela Beeker reminded the Board that sales tax revenue, once it comes in, is like any other tax revenue that the County receives.  It has to be appropriated pursuant to a budget ordinance and any appropriations made must be for a public purpose and you must have statutory authority for those appropriations.  There is a whole chapter in the General Statutes, chapter 153-A that applies to counties.  The Board can spend money and make appropriations to carry out any of the specific statutory authorities.  She could find no authority, no specific statutory authority, that would allow the County to simply give revenue to the Village of Flat Rock, be that sales tax revenue or property tax revenue.  The Board does have certain powers to contract with municipalities and if the Board wished to enter into some sort of agreement where there was a bargain for exchange in which the County received some benefit in exchange for the monies being paid to the Village of Flat Rock, she felt the Board could do that. 


Mrs. Beeker spent some time going through the interlocal agreement between the City of Jacksonville and the County of Onslow and she also spoke to David Lawrence at the Institute of Government and he agreed with her legal opinion here. 


Following much discussion, the Board gave the County Manager direction to investigate the possibility of the Village of Flat Rock paying the County to keep the tax distribution method the same and report his findings back to the Board of Commissioners.  There was further discussion regarding this type agreement with other municipalities also. 



Charlie Messer got up and left the meeting at this time, coughing.


David Nicholson stated that representatives of the Affordable Housing Coalition had asked to be able to present a brief update on what they are doing to deal with the issues of affordable housing.  He introduced Ken Perkins, a member of the Housing Coalition, to address this issue.


Mr. Perkins stated that for means of addressing affordable housing issues here in the county the Coalition had met and organized.  They are a body of housing people from agencies as well as citizens who respect and are committed to empowering the low income people and designing implementation of affordable housing initiatives.  They acknowledge the need for continuum of housing and affordable housing services in the community, everything from transitional to affordable permanent housing. They try to advocate for the resources that are available and indeed to insure the families of these resources.  They are non-discriminatory and are fair housing regulated.  Currently they have about ten groups that are represented.  There are many members, willing people who want to keep informed and be part of this particular on-going process.


Mr. Perkins stated that they feel that in the past perhaps many of the communities in the County have not really put the affordable housing in a high enough priority as it effects the quality of life of our citizens.  He stated that more than a third of the working class in Henderson County cannot afford the basic rent, for example it takes 2 ½ weeks of effort and income to pay for a month’s rent which leaves 1 ½ weeks of income to pay for all the other needs.  20% of our people or one unit in five are mobile homes.  1550 homes heat with wood.  3,317 units heat with bottled gas.  143 homes lack complete plumbing.  136 homes lack complete kitchens.  3,500 apartments rent for higher than the recommended 30% of gross wages. 


Beverly Kelly of the Interfaith and the low income work force quickly addressed some of the real issues.  In her job she works with low income families every day.  She stated that she was not just concerned about low income families but was also concerned about middle income families.  Last year, according to Basedon  2003 Hendersonville Multiple Listing Service, the average price for a home was $186,000.  She stated that she has a Master’s degree and she doesn’t make enough to buy a house at that price.  She sees tent cities in our county.  There is one in back of Jackson Park and one in back of Patton Park.  If you qualify for rent assistance, if you are lucky enough to get on the waiting list for Section 8 Housing it is now a 12-14 month wait from the time you are accepted on the list until you can get a voucher to go look for housing.  Statistically WCCA has to turn back about half of those housing vouchers because there is no stock of houses that can be rented for Section 8.


Ken Perkins stated that the critical part of the whole issue is what if we don’t do anything about it here in the county, what if we don’t lift the issue to where it belongs?  We are going to be faced with pretty significant changes in our economy.  He stated that it is in a crisis point in our county and every community needs to step to the plate in the best ways that they can.




Important Affordable Housing Considerations For Inclusion in the

Henderson County Comprehensive Plan


1.         To raise the counties affordable housing stock to 10% of all year-round units by the year 2020.

2.         To provide for a range of housing types at a range of densities in areas appropriate for residential use in all areas of the community.

3.         To encourage developers to provide affordable housing through such mechanisms as development incentives.

4.         To ensure that affordable housing units are interspersed among, and are compatible in design, appearance, construction and quality of materials with market rate units in the area.

5.         To ensure that affordable housing units will remain affordable year round.

6.         To help ensure the provision of emergency housing for county residents.

7.         To develop a city and county wide code for minimum housing standards.

8.         To develop funding strategies for providing affordable housing opportunities in Henderson County.

9.         To increase community awareness about housing problems and issues in Henderson County.

10.        To identify local housing needs on an ongoing basis.

11.            Consider manufactured housing as a historic solution for affordable housing.

12.            Affordable housing should not be pushed to remote areas of the county.


Between all the players, all the non profits, they can handle 6% of the need, who is doing the other 94%.


Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into the Cane Creek Water and Sewer District. All voted in favor and the motion carried.


Update on the Mills River Sewer Project

EPA has approved the Finding of No Significant Impact Report and is now in the 30 day public comment period.  Once those days pass, we will be able to proceed with the project.  There are still a number of issues that must be completed including a Cultural Resources Survey, Geotechnical Evaluation and the development of the final plans and bid documents.  These efforts can not be completed until the easements are finalized.


The project will be constructed in two phases, the main interceptor, and the collector lines to the school and business district.  The interceptor will soon be ready for bidding and staff has obtained several easements voluntarily however, a few of the property owners (4) have refused to enter into easements.  Staff obtained appraisals of these easements and is recommending that condemnation actions be filed to obtain these easements.  There is one tract that was recently sold and staff is working with the new owner to try and obtain the easement voluntarily.  It may be necessary to obtain this easement by condemnation as well.


Staff requested authorization to file the condemnation actions as needed for completion of this project. 


The County Manager stated that in order to proceed with the project, the Board is requested to authorize the condemnation of the outstanding easements, if necessary.


Commissioner Moyer made the motion to authorize the filing of the condemnations for the outstanding easements.  All voted in favor and the motion carried four to zero (Note – Commissioner Messer had stepped out of the room, unexcused, and according to Rule #24 of the Board’s Rules of Procedure that counts as an affirmative vote.)

Chairman Hawkins had asked to be recused from voting on this issue and the Board voted to recuse him.


Point of clarification

Gary Tweed stated that we may have other easements associated with those collector lines that we have to go through a similar process with.  How would the Board like to address those.  Following discussion, it was the consensus that they would need to come back to the Board of Commissioners.



Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.






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