STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA                                                             BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON                                                                                               MARCH 8, 2004


The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.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 Smith, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, County Engineer Gary Tweed and Public Information Officer Chris Coulson. Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through Nominations.



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



Commissioner Young led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.



Pastor Stanley Newton from Faith Bible Church gave the invocation.



Commissioner Baldwin requested the deletion of Update on Pending Issues – Item #1 Board Communications. He requested the addition of Discussion Item C - Regional Water Authority and Discussion Item D - County Government Communications and Performance.


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



Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the Consent Agenda as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.


The Consent Agenda consisted of the following:



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

§         December 17, 2003, regular meeting

§         January 21, 2004, regular meeting

§         February 2, 2004, regular meeting          


Tax Collector’s Report 

Terry F. Lyda had submitted the Tax Collector’s Report dated February 27, 2004, for the Board’s information.


Set Public Hearing – Transportation Grants

The Board was requested to set a public hearing on the Rural Operating Assistance Program grant for April 5, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. Annually, the Board holds this public hearing in order to apply for transportation funding.


Water Line Extension

The City of Hendersonville had requested County comments on a proposed water line extension for a project known as Aspen Educational. The proposed project involved the use of the former Rossmont property on North Rugby Road as a private boarding school for girls.


Resolution – Home Education Week

Chairman Hawkins had requested the Board consider the following Resolution establishing March 14-20 as Home Education Week:






WHEREAS,            the State of North Carolina is committed to excellence in education and to public policy that strengthens the family; and


WHEREAS,            the State of North Carolina recognizes parental choice in pursuit of that excellence and the importance of parental involvement in education; and


WHEREAS,            the State of North Carolina appropriately and statutorily recognizes home education as a viable educational alternative; and


WHEREAS,            home education provides children the opportunity to receive a sound academic education integrated with high ethical standards taught within a safe and secure environment; and


WHEREAS,            parents have the ultimate authority and responsibility for the care, upbringing and choice of education for their children; and


WHEREAS,            home education was a predominant form of education in the first two centuries of America, and many of our Nation’s leaders were primarily educated at home; and


WHEREAS,            it is appropriate that Henderson County home educators and home educated children be recognized and celebrated for their contributions to the diversity and quality of education in this great State;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, at their meeting on March 8,

2004 does hereby declare March 14-20, 2004 as HOME EDUCATION WEEK, and does hereby call upon all citizens of this County to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and honors in recognition of the continued growth and importance of home education in the State of North Carolina.


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the County of Henderson to be affixed.

________________________________________                ________________________________________                               

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


WCCA – Community Services Block Grant

Western Carolina Community Action was applying for the continuation of the Community Service Block Grant. They receive these funds annually based on a three-year application cycle from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Economic Opportunity. The Board was requested to approve the filing of the continuation of WCCA’s Community Services Block Grant.


Set Public Hearing on Rezoning Application #R-04-01 (R-15 to C-2P) Charles Pace Applicant; Charlene Rogers, Applicant’s Agent

Charles Pace had submitted an application requesting that the County rezone one parcel totaling 0.31 acres from an R-15 Medium-Density Residential zoning district to a C-2P Preservation Neighborhood Commercial zoning district. The parcel proposed for rezoning is located at the intersection of Resort Street and Shepherd Street.


The Henderson County Planning Board reviewed the application at its meeting on Tuesday, February 17, 2004, and voted to send the Board of Commissioners a split recommendation (3 favorable – 3 unfavorable) on rezoning the Subject Parcel from R-15 to C-2P. Before taking action on the application, the Board of Commissioners must hold a Public Hearing. Staff proposed that the Hearing be scheduled for Monday, April 5, 2004 at 7:00 P.M.


Request for Improvement Guarantee for Cliffs Valley North, Phase IV, Lots 1-8

Mr. James B. Anthony had submitted an application for an improvement guarantee for a proposed subdivision he was developing known as Cliffs Valley North, Phase IV. The subdivision was being constructed off U.S. Highway 25 South near the North Carolina/South Carolina border. Phase IV was located off Mountain Summit Road and planned to contain 30 residential lots. The Planning Board granted conditional approval of a revised Master Plan and Phase IV Development Plan for the project on July 15, 2003. The improvement guarantee was proposed to cover asphalt paving and shoulder stabilization for roads serving Lots 1 through 8, water system improvements and maintenance of existing erosion control measures of Phase IV of Cliffs Valley North.


Pursuant to Section 170-38 of the Henderson County Code, a developer may, in lieu of completing all of the required improvements prior to Final Plat approval, post a performance guarantee to secure the County’s interest in seeing that satisfactory construction of incomplete improvements occurs. One type of permitted guarantee is the posting of an irrevocable letter of credit. Mr. Anthony (the developer) intends to post with the County such funds in the amount of $200,050.01, which includes the cost of the improvements ($160,040.01) as well as the required twenty-five percent (25%) contingency ($40,010.00). The proposed completion date for the project was March 1, 2006. 


A draft performance guarantee was presented for the Board’s consideration. If approved, the developer must post with Henderson County an irrevocable letter of credit in accordance with the terms of the Agreement. Once the County receives such funds, the (Assistant) County Attorney must certify the Agreement as to form prior to its execution by the Chairman and the developer. 


Henderson County Public Schools Financial Report – January 2004

The Public School System had provided their January financial report for the Board’s consent approval.


Financial Report – January 2004

Cash Balance Report – January 2004

These two reports were submitted for Board information and consent approval.


The $5,956 YTD deficit in the Travel & Tourism Fund was due to January being one of the lower performing months for travel/tourism and associated occupancy tax collections. This negative position will gradually change as tourists begin to travel from March through the end of the fiscal year.


The $12,126 YTD deficit in the 911 Emergency Communications Fund was temporary due to the BellSouth telephone bill due in February being paid during the last week of January; therefore, two months telephone bills were charged to January when normally only one is charged. This fund should have a positive YTD net revenue position beginning in February 2004.


The $4,052 YTD deficit in the CDBG-Scattered Site Housing Project, the $3,469 YTD deficit reported in the Mud Creek Watershed Restoration Project and the $16,034 YTD deficit reported in the Mills River Sewer Project are all temporary due to timing differences in the expenditure of funds and the subsequent requisition of funds to reimburse those expenditures.


The County Services Building Project deficit was due to architectural fees, demolition/abatement and utility line relocation work performed at the former Carolina Apparel Building. It was anticipated that those costs would be recouped from financing proceeds for the project in 2004. 


Update on County Comprehensive Plan (CCP) and Other Major Planning Initiatives

Staff had provided an issue update which summarized the tasks related to the CCP and other major planning initiatives that occurred over the past month.  The update also included anticipated actions for the coming month.



Notification of Vacancies

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

1.         Recreation Advisory Board  – 1 vac.

2.         Equalization and Review – Appointment of a Chairman


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


1.      Downtown Hendersonville Inc. - 1 vac.

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


2.      Equalization and Review – 2 vac.

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


3.      Fletcher Zoning Board of Adjustment - 1 vac.

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


4.      Historic Courthouse Corporation  - 1 vac.

Chairman Hawkins stated that the nominations the Board had been taking for the membership would be officially appointed after the Board of Commissioners convened for the initial meeting of the Corporation. Following that meeting, the candidates would be appointed.


Chairman Hawkins then stated that there was still one vacancy on the Courthouse Committee candidates list. Ruth Birge, who was nominated at a previous meeting, had withdrawn her application. Commissioner Baldwin nominated Spence Campbell, however Mr. Campbell had already been nominated at a previous meeting. Commissioner Young made the motion to accept Mr. Campbell by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.


5.      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.


6.      Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 1 vac . 

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


7.      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.


8.      Planning for Older Adults Block Grant Advisory Committee – 4 vac.

Chairman Hawkins nominated Joan Phillips and Betty Webber for appointment to Positions #3 & 4. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to appoint them by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.


9.      Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.

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


10.  Solid Waste Advisory Committee - 4 vac.

Chairman Hawkins nominated Charles Garrett and William Farrell for reappointment. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept them by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.


11.  WCCA Board of Directors - 1 vac.

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


Historical Memorial Stadium

Dr. Carl Mumpower, Vice-Mayor of the City of Asheville, was present to explain the City’s efforts for the renovation of the Historical Memorial Stadium. Memorial Stadium is a facility that was purchased by the City of Asheville in 1925 and dedicated in the early 1930’s to veterans lost in WWI. It was rebuilt in 1949 and dedicated to those lost in WWI and WWII. The vision of a true memorial was never completed and the memorial plaque eventually was dedicated and displayed at the Memorial Mission Hospital. The grandstands were demolished in 1982 due to structural concerns, and the brick archway is currently the only reminder of the proposed memorial. Dr. Mumpower took the Board through a series of slides depicting the site.

Dr. Mumpower then discussed the new vision for Memorial Stadium. He stated that they are asking every County and municipality in Western North Carolina to partner with Asheville, not to pay for the facility, but to provide the story of one veteran who served and died some time since the Spanish-American War. One section will be dedicated to every County and municipality, all major branches of services will be covered as will all conflicts. He stated that they are looking less for money, and more for support, participation, the story, partnership, and the opportunity for involvement. The City is going to try to make this project come to life within the next year.  


Sales Tax Distribution

Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that each year the Board of Commissioners has a choice to make on how they will go about distributing sales tax. For at least the past several years Henderson County had always distributed it on a Per Capita basis, primarily because that was most advantageous to the County. With the recent incorporations in the County, that formula had begun to shift from the Per Capita being most advantageous, to the Ad Valorem method. At a previous meeting the Board had discussed the issue, and directed the County Manager to look at some of the parameters involved in capitalizing on an idea brought forward by Flat Rock.


Chairman Hawkins had some meetings with the volunteer fire departments and some of the involved municipalities. At the conclusion of those meetings, Chairman Hawkins had expressed that it was his opinion, and his opinion only, that the County should continue with the distribution on a Per Capita basis. He felt that was most appropriate for several reasons:

§         There were about 11 volunteer fire department’s that had contracts with municipalities, and if the County shifted to the Ad Valorem basis it would almost necessitate some kind of new understanding between those volunteer fire departments and municipalities as to how they would be reimbursed for their services rendered.   

§         The County had already adjusted the County-wide tax rate to compensate for the incorporation of Mills River.

§         In the case of Mills River, a drastic change in the method of distribution would leave that new city flat as far as revenue to run their town.

§         One interesting aspect of distribution in accordance with the State law is that you don’t do it for the year you’re in, you have to go back to the year before. So if you had no Ad Valorem tax the year before, then you would have no basis of distribution for the coming year.


Chairman Hawkins stated again that was his opinion, and what he would recommend to the Board, but that it was up to the Board to decide which method to use. He discussed the option of leaving the distribution method as Per Capita, and partnering with the municipalities on services such as economic development.


Commissioner Baldwin stated that he did not feel that deciding outside of the context of trying to assess the County’s capital needs would be a wise thing to do. Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that they had planned to have a workshop, but then decided to have some discussion at a mid-month meeting following review of some capital projects. David Nicholson stated that Staff would have a draft of the Capital Projects list available for the next meeting.


Commissioner Moyer stated that he objected to the meeting Chairman Hawkins had, at which he put a proposal on the table for everyone to consider, but then left it for the other four Commissioners to decide. The Board had agreed to have meetings to discuss what the policy would be, and his understanding was that the Chairman should take Board views out for discussion. Chairman Hawkins disagreed, stating that the meeting was held to come up with some alternative solutions to bring back to the Board. There followed some additional discussion regarding this disagreement.


Commissioner Messer stated that he had received a lot of phone calls on this matter. He felt that this decision had a big impact on the tax payers in Henderson County, and should be decided by the whole Board. He requested a public input worksession so members of the public could give their opinions. Commissioner Baldwin felt the needs of the entire County should be considered, and the first thing the Board had to do was assess what the County’s needs were, including capital needs.


Discussion followed about whether this should occur at a workshop or during a regularly scheduled meeting, the impact of this decision on the upcoming budget cycle, and the need for a Capital Improvements Plan. The Board requested that David Nicholson compile a list of capital improvements and bring this item back for discussion at the mid-March meeting. There followed additional discussion regarding the appropriateness of individual Commissioners meeting with municipal officials on this matter.


Edneyville Fire and Rescue Fee Waiver/Reduction

Edneyville Fire and Rescue had demolished the main station on Chimney Rock Highway as part of a capital improvements program to improve their physical facilities throughout the fire district. As part of the demolition process the fire department had several truckloads of debris consisting of brick, block and concrete with imbedded rebar. The fire department was requesting a waiver or reduction of landfill fees (tipping fees) for disposal of this material, which they projected to be about $30,000.


David Nicholson stated that in the past, Boards had not approved the waiving of tipping fees even for their own projects because the Solid Waste Department is not tax supported but is self supported. Mr. Nicholson also noted that the landfill will accept clean materials such as bricks or cement at no charge, but they do charge for mixed waste. Robert Griffin, Chief of Edneyville Fire and Rescue stated that they had initially been told they could bury this material on site, but had since learned that they would be unable to dispose of it in that matter causing some financial concerns. Gary Tweed stated that if the materials could be separated they would be accepted at no charge, but they could not use anything that had any steel in it. Mr. Griffin and Mr. Nicholson answered several questions from the Board regarding the request.


Commissioner Young made a motion that the Board stay with the current policy. All voted in favor and the motion carried.     



1.      Ray Shaw – Mr. Shaw stated that regarding sales tax distribution, he felt it was important that the Board remember that time was moving quickly, and the municipalities as well as the Board need to understand what the financial picture looks like. He referenced a letter he had written to the Board in January requesting a meeting to discuss an interlocal agreement on the tax distribution.


2.      Don Henderson – Mr. Henderson stated that he is a member of the Edneyville community, and that a group in that area had proposed building a community center. He wished to get on public record that they would like the Board’s input, assistance and guidance. They hope that this center will be a benefit to the community and a place to be used for a large variety of groups. Mr. Henderson stated that they are trying to invest in the future, and hoped the Board would consider helping through their guidance and possible financially. 


3.      Jim Mosakowski – Mr. Mosakowski spoke to the sales tax distribution issue. He lives in Flat Rock, but understood that the issue is broader than just a municipality issue. However, he felt that changing to the ad valorem method would be unfair to Flat Rock for three reasons: they have build their budget around a per capita method, a change cuts their budget by 100%, and a change would require very rapid action on the part of Flat Rock. Mr. Mosakowski stated that Flat Rock residents are 3% of the population, but pay 8% of the property tax. He felt that some services should come from the county, but some should come from municipalities, but that an open dialogue on that subject should be held.    


4.      Wayne Barlow – Mr. Barlow, a resident of Flat Rock, spoke to the sales tax distribution issue, stating that he had sent a letter to the Board and the Times-News on the matter. He read a copy of that letter, which essentially stated that the sales tax distribution method selected should be based on fairness, not need, and the fair method is to stay with the per capita distribution. 


5.      Mike Cervini – Mr. Cervini stated that it was nice to hear dialogue from the Board earlier indicating that they were going to look at the County’s overall budget, and see what was advantageous to the County. Municipal residents are members of the County as well, and for those 9,000 citizens to make up the $1.8 million budgetary difference would not be as fair as distributing that burden out to all 90,000.     


6.      Jack Day – Mr. Day stated that historically, there had been a gentleman’s agreement between the County and Flat Rock that sales taxes would be distributed on a per capita basis. He felt it was incumbent upon the Board to live up to that agreement.


7.      Al Gonzalez – Mr. Gonzales urged the Board to reread a letter he had mailed earlier.


8.      Walden Jones – Mr. Jones did not come forward when his name was called.


9.      Martha Sachs – Ms. Sachs stated that she was concerned about the dismissive nature of the CCP Board and Planning Board with regards to the public input received on the CCP. She felt that to be dismissive of that input was unconscionable, and felt members of those Board’s should be more diverse to represent the opinions of the entire county.


Commissioner Baldwin responded to Ms. Sachs, stating that if in the final plan the input for the citizens has been ignored, the citizens will be able to have their say.


10.  Terry Hicks – Mr. Hicks thanked the Board for their serious consideration of all the issues surrounding sales tax distribution. He stated that he hopes the Board would establish a meeting at which all the issues could be discussed after they received the information they needed on capital budgets as well as regular budgets.


11.  Dick Baird – Mr. Baird stated that actions have consequences. Some municipalities found it was to their advantage to incorporate to avoid annexation, and there is a cost associated with that. He felt that they should pick up that cost, rather than spreading it out to everyone else. Mr. Baird stated that the bus system would be coming to the Board with a request for $16,000 and a commitment to the future of that system. In the past year their return on investment was negative 92%, and he felt that was a bad investment. He then spoke to decision making within the County regarding schools. He felt there were other alternatives to building more schools and they should be considered.   


12.  Jimmy Cowan – Mr. Cowan stated that switching from per capita to ad valorem does not promote lean, efficient government. He stated that if municipalities have to raise their taxes to make up the difference, it will cause the county to have to raise taxes to make up the difference, creating an ongoing situation.


Request for Tax Release

Angela Beeker reminded the Board that at the February 2, 2004 meeting, the Board received a request for a tax release for sixteen (16) parcels comprising the common areas for the St. Johns Commons and Livingston Farms subdivisions. At that meeting, attorney Mike Edney appeared to request that the Board exercise the discretion they have to approve a late application for a property tax exemption for these properties, and to thereafter approve the release of taxes for these properties.


Generally, property owned by a nonprofit homeowner’s association is tax exempt if an application for the exemption is timely filed. N.C.G.S. 282.1 allows the Board to approve a late application upon a showing of good cause by the applicant. However, at that February 2nd meeting Mr. Edney raised the issue of whether in fact the association really owned the property based upon the fact that the deeds conveying the property were retained by the developer after they were recorded. The Board asked that the County research this issue and report back to the Board. Mr. Edney had since verbally withdrawn the argument that the association did not own the property as of January 1, 2003, and would like the application for tax release and approval of the late application to proceed as submitted.


Chairman Hawkins questioned Tax Assessor Stan Duncan regarding when the “Notice of Reappraisal Value” was mailed. He asked whether that mailing would have given them time to file for their exemption. Mr. Duncan noted that the notice was mailed on February 7, 2003. No appeal of the value or taxability of the property was received either informally or formally to the Board of Equalization and Review which was advertised for 30 days. The tax payer in fact did not come forward until after receiving the Town of Fletcher tax bill. Application was then made to Mr. Duncan’s office on September 19th.


Mr. Edney stated that the Notice was mailed to him, but at a point in time where he had no legal connection to the associations, so they didn’t have notice of the reappraisal at that time because he was not their agent. Chairman Hawkins questioned the dates during which the tax payers had the ability to appeal. Mr. Duncan stated that there were thirty (30) days after the mailing of the first notice for an informal appeal on valuation or taxability, which ran from February 7th until March 7th. There was an additional thirty (30) day window of opportunity for appeal that was advertised in the Times-News as being between April 23, 2003 and May 23, 2003.


Mr. Edney stated that the bottom line was that there were about 1,000 people who would have to pay it, and then try to get their money back from the developer. While that might happen, it would be a long shot and it would cost as much as they are paying in taxes to hire an attorney to go after the developer.


Mr. Duncan stated that an entity that might be held to be exempt, unless they make application will be taxed. He used the example of a church, stating that a church can acquire property but if they do not come forward and make application for exemption on a timely basis, that property will be taxed for that calendar year. Mr. Duncan stated that this is no different, the issue is purely about timeliness – did the tax payer make application for exemption that they are entitled to on a timely basis. The answer in this case is no, and the statute does not allow for all the reasons why someone may not be timely, though it does speak to good cause. Mr. Duncan stated that in his opinion, the reasons put forward in this case do not justify good cause.


Chairman Hawkins asked Angela Beeker if she had any advise for the Board on N.C.G.S. 105.380. Ms. Beeker felt there were several questions present. If the Board approves the late application, that makes the property tax exempt for the 2003 tax year. At that point, a release would be in order. She realized that there were three specific reasons under N.C.G.S. 105.381 for release of a tax, but it is illegal to tax tax exempt property, so she believed that could be their basis for a release. Therefore there are two decisions: approve or deny the late application, if it is approved then the Board would be okay to approve the release.


Mr. Edney and Mr. Duncan answered several questions from the Board on the appropriateness of approving or denying the late application, with Mr. Duncan stating that this was a very important decision about policy that the county will go forward on. Following additional discussion, Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to deny the request for tax release. All voted in favor and the motion carried.                 


PUBLIC HEARING - Rezoning Application #R-03-04 (R-15 to C-4) Leon Allison, Applicant

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


Autumn Radcliff informed the Board that Mr. Leon Allison had submitted an application requesting that the County rezone a 7.76-acre portion of land from an R-15 Medium-Density Residential zoning district to a C-4 Highway Commercial zoning district. The parcel proposed for rezoning was located off Old Spartanburg Road, about 350 feet east of where Old Spartanburg Road intersects with Shepherd Street. Ms. Radcliff discussed several previous rezoning applications, adjacent zoning designations, the various uses allowed in the R-15 and C-4 districts, and relevant plans and actions such as the 1993 Land Use Plan.


The Henderson County Planning Board had reviewed the application at its meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 and voted 5 to 1 to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.

Staff also recommended that Rezoning Application #R-03-04, as submitted, be denied. Ms. Radcliff discussed the basis of that recommendation citing reasons such as inconsistencies with the 1993 Land Use Plan, that C-4 is generally located on major highways, and it’s location within the 100-Year floodplain.


In accordance with Section 200-76 of the Henderson County Zoning Ordinance and State Law, a Notice of Public Hearing regarding Rezoning Application #R-03-04 was published in the Hendersonville Times-News on February 16, 2004 and February 23, 2004. The Planning Department sent notices of the hearing via first class mail to the applicant and the owners of properties adjacent to the Subject Property on February 18, 2004. Planning Staff posted signs advertising the hearing on the Subject Property on February 25, 2004. 


Ms. Radcliff answered several questions from the Board, and explained several maps and pictures.


Public Input

There was none.


Leon Allison produced three photographs showing different views of the subject and adjacent property. He stated that the adjoining property owners had no problem with the request to complete the commercial zoning on the property, and in fact preferred commercial to high-density residential. He discussed his plans for the back part of the property which involved taking in leaves to compost and creating topsoil, and the creation of a farmer’s market on the front part of the property. Mr. Allison and Karen Smith answered several questions from the Board.


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


Angela Beeker reminded the Board that legally, they cannot zone for a particular use, but must consider all of the uses that can go in a district. That is a court ruling, and why the Planning Board does not allow owners to talk about particular uses they wish to make of a property. Zoning is to be done in accordance with a comprehensive plan unless there were circumstances that had changed that would justify an amendment to that plan through a zoning action. Comments from the applicant and community are not really a legal basis for zoning, the decision must be based on what is reasonable and what fits in with that community.


Following some discussion among the Commissioners, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the rezoning application.  The motion carried 3 – 2 with Chairman Hawkins, Commissioner Young and Commissioner Messer voting in favor.


PUBLIC HEARING – Community Development Block Grant

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


The Public Hearing was being held in accordance with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) regulations. The CDBG process involves two public hearings, the first of which was being held on this date to allow staff or citizens the opportunity to express views and proposals prior to formulation of an application. David Nicholson noted that the second public hearing was the opportunity for the Board and public to see the application and be able to make comments on that actual application.


The project being presented to the Board by Mr. Nicholson at this hearing was for assistance in putting a water line to the Brookside Camp/Howard Gap Road area that was having contaminated well issues. He explained that Henderson County had been notified that $400,000 of CDBG funds had been set aside that came through the rural center. Mr. Nicholson and county staff had met with the City of Hendersonville and Kate O’Hara from Land-of-Sky to discuss how they could put this project together. The money can only be used in the areas where the contamination primarily is, and has to benefit low and moderate-income individuals. At that meeting Mr. Nicholson had learned that there are really two projects: one is for the waterline that will come from Park Ridge Hospital down Howard Gap Road, and the second project would be for the affected area where homes need public water. He suggested to the City that they phase the program to make it clear where the CDBG monies were spent.       


If the Board approves the project, an interlocal agreement would be developed between the County and the City where the City would act as the County’s agent in administering the CDBG Grant. Kate O’Hara, with Land-of-Sky, would assist in that process and would actually be the grant administrator. The City of Hendersonville had already drawn the plans, completed a lot of the bid documents, and were ready to begin advertising for bids. In order to proceed further with this project, the Board would need to grant approval to proceed with the application and set a public hearing on that application.


Public Input

There was none.


Chairman Hawkins asked Kate O’Hara, as administrator of the grant, what the next step would be, wondering if the Board would need to have another public hearing before Ms. O’Hara could do anything. Ms. O’Hara answered that in the next step Land-of-Sky staff would do a 100% survey to verify income in the project area, and had been working with the Health Department to identify the properties that do have contamination. She stated it is a two part process: income verification and designation by the Board of Health that there is a severe water problem in the particular area. She discussed a preliminary drawing which identified the potential project area using the highest density of contaminated properties. She stated that they would have to go out and do an income survey and then verify that 51% of the occupied residential homes have a severe need. There has to be enough of a moderate need in the remaining part of them to have an overall 75% severity. The benefit then has to be a 70% benefit to all of the property owners.


Chairman Hawkins asked Mr. Nicholson if anyone could provide an estimate of a timeline when water would become available in the area. Mr. Nicholson stated they would need to set another public hearing, and asked Ms. O’Hara if setting that for April 5, 2004 would give her enough time to do the surveys and complete the applications. Ms. O’Hara confirmed that she believed she would be able to meet that date. Ms. O’Hara stated that what also had to happen once the information was compiled, was a meeting with DCA (Division of Community Assistance), though DCA had indicated they were willing to work as hard as they could to make this project work.


Mr. Nicholson spoke again about the two-phase nature of the project. Doing it in two phases would allow the City to begin the longest part of the project, which would be running the water line down Howard Gap Road. Beginning construction of that line would help speed up the process by several months.


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



Jim Crafton, representative from the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), updated the Board on their recent work regarding the Transportation Plan. He stated that the City of Hendersonville had contracted with the Department of Transportation (DOT) some time in the year 2000, to develop a transportation plan for them. He believed that in that same year, the County had also contracted with DOT to develop a transportation plan.

In 2000, the DOT had taken traffic counts around the County and had plotted traffic counts on the major roadways i.e. I-26, Four Seasons Blvd, Hwy 25, Hwy 191, Hwy 64 West and East, Spartanburg Highway, Greenville Highway and so on. They placed the traffic counts to establish a base point of what the traffic burden is presently on different roadways. They then “took that traffic information and graphically plotted another map depicting what the effect of that traffic is on the capacity of our current roadways to handle that traffic.” On that map, green indicated adequate capacity for the measured traffic, yellow indicated a marginal area and red indicated critical points in the traffic area that is present today. He felt it would come as no surprise that red areas existed on Four Seasons Blvd., Hwy. 64 West and Hwy 25 North. That data was DOT’s base point.


The next step was to obtain projected growth data for the region. To do that they contracted with an economist to research and develop socio-economic data for the community to determine the projected growth going to the year 2030. They provided that data to the Planning Department for both the City and County, along with a grid of a portion of the County and asked those departments to plat on that grid the areas where they believed that growth would happen. Mr. Crafton then discussed several maps which outlined current and projected household and employment densities, and projections indicating that between now and 2030, households will grow by 91% and employment will grow by 67%. Using these figures they projected a 97% increase in vehicle miles traveled in Henderson County by 2030. The projects currently on the TIP will create an 11% increase in lane miles.


Having looked at this problem, the DOT was prepared to develop a plan. They had prepared a summary graphic showing what our roadways would look like in the year 2030 assuming the existing circumstances along with the completion of all the items presently on the TIP. That plan indicated that I-26 from Four Season Blvd. north would be a marginal area. Additional marginal or critical areas also appeared in the northern part of the county. The DOT has now requested that before preparing a plan, the community indicate the issues they want the DOT to take into consideration as they draft the plan.


To accomplish that, the TAC had developed a public input session for which they held two sessions for the public and one session for elected officials and staff. They had compiled the information received, and presented a document that showed all comments received at those sessions. The TAC also proposed to include information from the City of Hendersonville from their adopted recommendation, and transportation comments received from the Highway 25 South corridor study and the Designing Our Future study.


Mr. Crafton proposed to the Board the recommendation from the TAC, that those comments, along with any additions or deletions made by the Board, be sent on to the DOT as being representative of what the community has had to say about what is important. He briefly discussed the nature and similarities of those comments. After receiving comments, the DOT will draft a plan, which they hope to bring back to the County by the spring. That draft would be reviewed, there would be a need for public hearings and finally adoption of a plan.


Mr. Crafton then answered several questions from the Board, and David Nicholson updated them on a recent MPO meeting. Following some discussion among the Board, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to send the received comments on as an approval of the materials presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.             



David Nicholson reminded the Board that about a year ago, staff had requested permission to consider joining the Early Action Compact because it appeared that Henderson County was out of attainment for air quality. Staff had now been informed that most of Western North Carolina was “in attainment” for air quality for 2003. Attainment is evaluated on a 3-year rolling average. It is not likely, based on the latest averages, that WNC would be re-evaluated until 2007. The North Carolina Division of Environment and Natural Resources expects that by 2007, due to cleaner fuels, new automobiles with less emissions, and increased industrial compliance, we will continue to be in attainment though there are no guarantees.

The current issue before the Board is Henderson County’s continuation in the Early Action Compact. Buncombe County, who had coordinated the event, would like to continue with the formal EAC. However, Mr. Nicholson made the following recommendation:
1.                   Henderson County withdraw from the Early Action Compact
2.                   Henderson County continue with the efforts as described within the Compact
3.                   Henderson County request to continue to participate in the regional efforts and meetings associated with the Compact
Mr. Nicholson made that recommendation based on staff’s concern over the future of the Compact. The whole idea of an Early Action Compact was being challenged by the Southern Environmental Law Center. Although they had not filed a formal court action, they had issued position papers indicating there was no legal basis for an Early Action Compact in the Federal Clean Air Act and allowing such an arrangement just delayed implementation of the Act by the EPA. One of his concerns was that if the EPA eliminated these arrangements, Henderson County might be forced into some measure just because we were part of the Compact.
It was the consensus of the Board to have the Environmental Advisory Committee continue to develop programs noted for Henderson County in the Compact, and withdraw from the Early Action Compact.   

Commissioner Baldwin informed the Board that he had learned that the demand for water from the Authority had dropped because of some of the manufacturing facilities which had gone off line. Also, they had brought on-line some of the systems that they had refurbished. So there had been a drop in demand and an increase in water supply. That had put the Authority in a position by which the Mills River Water Plant is being taken off-line and will not be used except as a backup. The chance of needing that plant in the next ten years was minimal, so the cost at that plant would be to just maintain it at a level where it could be brought back on line if needed.


The Authority is also being faced with a lot of infrastructure improvements because they had never developed a comprehensive CIP. They have hired a firm to do a CIP, which has led to identification and prioritization of improvements that need to be made to the system. Commissioner Baldwin believed that would mean a need for additional funds for the system.


Commissioner Baldwin felt it would behoove the Board to have a discussion about our relationship with the Authority and where we would like to go in the future since circumstances had changed. He suggested having Bill Lapsley come in to address the Board to assist in coming up with a sense of direction on where the Board might want to go.


Chairman Hawkins felt that having Mr. Lapsley address the Board was a good idea. He also thought the change in circumstances made it a good time for the County to look at whatever options were available from not only the County’s perspective but from the perspective of other municipalities in the County. Hendersonville, especially at some point in the future, would probably need to address some additional water supply.


Commissioner Messer questioned whether there had been discussion about having a representative from Mills River on the Authority. Commissioner Baldwin stated he felt that would be a good idea, especially since the plant is in Mills River’s jurisdiction.


It was the pleasure of the Board to have Chairman Hawkins invite Bill Lapsley to attend a future meeting for some discussion on what opportunities and options were available.           


County Government Communications and Performance

Commissioner Baldwin stated that one of the keys to performing well is saying what you’re going to do and then doing what you say. He felt the Board was heading in the right direction with the County Manager, with the voters and tax payers, through the community meeting and newsletter, and by soliciting input from the community on the direction of the county. We are also communicating better with organizations that we give money to via contracts and agreements, and with county departments through the establishment of performance measures.


There are two documents currently on track. One is the Comprehensive Plan, which is on track to be finished in June. The other is the Strategic Plan, which is serving in the interim through which the Board is committing itself to projects they had reached consensus on. One of the most disappointing things is that the dates and a calendar of responsibilities has not yet been established and made a part of the strategic plan. Without that element in place he did not feel that there was a strategic plan because the dates and responsibilities were the agreement with the public.


Despite the improvement in communications, he felt there were still some things not being done or problems that could be avoided with clearer communications. He cited the examples of the Strategic Plan, the CIP, the Sheriff’s vehicles and the tax software. He stated that we are entering into a campaign season, and there was nothing wrong with the Board trying to assess whether or not they were doing for the people what they ought to be doing. He wished to open up a discussion among the Board to determine what issues the Board needed to work on.   


Commissioner Moyer stated that in his opinion, the Board would have to set specific goals and objectives in order to be measured against them, and the Board had not done that. He felt he was unable to answer the question, since those goals and objectives had not been established. Chairman Hawkins felt that the Board had been working toward a number of items that to a large extent were measurable, such as improvement of school facilities, libraries and parks and recreation facilities. Commissioner Moyer agreed that the Board had accomplished some things, but that was very different from setting measurable goals and then measuring against them.


Commissioner Messer pointed out that he had been on the Board three years, and the big issues when he came on the Board were still the big issues. He discussed why plans to move those issues along had stalled. Commissioner Moyer spoke to the structure of the election cycle as it related, stating that it’s often hard to proceed when new Board members with new ideas come onto the Board every two years. Chairman Hawkins agreed stating that just looking back over the time period that the Historic Courthouse/County Complex had been an issue, there had been about twelve different County Commissioners looking at the project and offering a variety of different opinions. There followed much additional discussion on problems within the County such as the demolition of the Carolina Apparel Building, the animal shelter, the Sheriff’s vehicles, and in general the time it takes for approved project to happen.      



Board Communications         

This item was previously deleted from the agenda.



Chairman Hawkins suggested setting the Organizational Meeting for Historic Courthouse Corporation for the March 17th meeting. Angela Beeker stated that she would prepare a notice that at least three Board members would have to sign.


Chairman Hawkins noted the need to set a Quasi-Judicial 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. He asked the Board to look at the special rules of procedure for that meeting that will help retain the focus of the purpose of the quasi-judicial hearing. He asked that the Board adopt that set of rules in conjunction with setting the date. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set the Quasi-Judicial Public Hearing for Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:00pm at West Henderson High School, and that part of that meeting incorporate the special rules of procedure. All voted in favor and the motion carried.   


Chairman Hawkins also noted that a Road Abandonment Petition had been received, for which the Board usually holds a public input session. David Nicholson suggested that the Board hold that input session at their meeting on April 5th at about 7:00. It was the consensus of the Board to accept that date for the public input session.


Chairman Hawkins stated that regarding a joint session with the other municipalities to work on the sales tax distribution, there was an LGCCA meeting scheduled for the next week. Angela Beeker stated that the Board was on a tight time frame, especially if an agreement is reached on an interlocal agreement. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set a Special Called Meeting for March 16th at 3:00. All voted in favor and the motion carried. This meeting would be in conjunction with the LGCCA meeting.


David Nicholson requested the Board set a Public Hearing on the CDBG application for April 5th at 7:00. Commissioner Moyer made the motion. All voted in favor and the motion carried. 


Staff requested the Board schedule a special called meeting on several budget issues. It was the consensus of the Board to schedule that meeting at their March 17th meeting.



Commissioner Messer made the motion for the Board to adjourn.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.







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