MINUTES

 

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA                                                            BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON                                                                                                        APRIL 5, 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 C. Smith, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Fire Marshal Rocky Hyder, and Finance Director J. Carey McLelland. Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through nominations.

 

CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME

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

 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

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

 

INVOCATION

David Nicholson gave the invocation.

 

DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA

Chairman Hawkins asked that reason #1 for going into closed session be deleted.  More information will be coming later on that case. 

 

Commissioner Moyer asked that one item be added to Pending Issues – some discussion of the Animal Shelter Process. This was added as #2 under Pending Issues.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the agenda as revised.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

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

 

The consent agenda consisted of the following:

Minutes

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

            January 14, 2004            special called meeting

            March 31, 2004             special called meeting

 

Financial Report – February 2004

Cash Balance Report – February 2004

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

 

The $25,708 YTD deficit in the Travel & Tourism Fund is due to February 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 $5,906 YTD deficit in the CDBG-Scattered Site Housing Project, the $6,934 YTD deficit in the CDBG-Highlander Woods Housing Project and the $7,880 YTD deficit reported in the Mud Creek Watershed Restoration Project are all temporary requisition of funds to reimburse these expenditures.

 

The $25,811 YTD deficit in the Mills River Sewer Project Fund is due to the expenditure of funds for engineering fees that will subsequently be reimbursed from the Federal EPA Grant.

 

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

 

Henderson County Public Schools Financial Report – February 2004

The Schools Financial Report for February was presented for information and consent approval.

 

Tax Collector’s Report

Terry F. Lyda, Tax Collector, provided the Tax Collector’s Report dated March 31 for the Board’s information.

 

Petition for addition to State Road System

A road petition had been received to add Ward Drive to the State Maintenance System.  Staff found that the petition met the minimum requirements for addition to the State road maintenance system.  It has been the practice of this Board to accept road petitions and forward them to the 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. Staff recommended that the Board approve this request.

 

Valley Hill Fire and Rescue Lease Purchase Agreement

Valley Hill Fire & Rescue is in the process of building a maintenance facility adjacent to Station One on Willow Road.  During the process of financing the maintenance facility, the department realized a substantial savings could be incurred by refinancing outstanding debt on Station One and apparatus.  The fire department plans to finance $1,043,748.03 over four years with eight semi-annual payments of $135,174.05 and a final payment of $93,079.70.  The new interest rate will be five percent even (5%).  The Fire & Rescue Advisory Committee reviewed this proposal during the ’03-’04 budget process and approved the request unanimously.

 

Valley Hill Fire & Rescue requested the Chairman’s signature on a prepared letter to United Financial of North Carolina.  Staff recommended that the Board authorize the Chairman to sign the letter.

 

Mediacom Agreement

At the Board’s last regular meeting, the Board approved a proposed settlement with Mediacom Southeast, LLC, for payment of outstanding franchise fees owed for the period of January 1, 1998 through March 17, 2004 in the amount of $101,379.29.  At that time the Board also approved a proposed settlement agreement.

 

Presented for the Board’s consideration was a revised settlement agreement for consideration by the Board.  The revisions clarify the date that the franchise was granted to Mediacom’s predecessor, Essex 1980-3 Operating Partnership and the date that permission was given to Mediacom to acquire the franchise.  The revisions also clarify that with the payment of the $101,379.39, Mediacom is in full compliance with the provisions of the franchise requiring the payment of franchise fees to Henderson County for the period of January 1, 1998 through March 17, 2004.

 

The County Manager recommended that the Board approve the revised settlement agreement as presented.

 

Animal Shelter Fees

The new Animal Control Ordinance allows the department to perform micro chipping.  In order to proceed with this effort, staff requested the Board of Commissioners approve the following fee schedule:

                                                                        Cats & Kittens:

Dogs:                                                                Females                                     Males

Shelter Fee                    $ 5.00              Shelter Fee               $  5.00                   Shelter Fee          $ 5.00

Rabies Vaccine                   6.00              Rabies Vaccine          6.00                      Rabies Vaccine      6.00

Micro chipping                   9.00              Micro chipping          9.00                      Micro chipping      9.00

Spay/Neuter                     45.00              Spay                          45.00                   Neuter                  30.00

All-inclusive                   $65.00              All-inclusive              $65.00                   All-inclusive      $50.00

 

The County Manager and staff recommended that the Board approve this fee schedule.

 

Update on County Comprehensive Plan and Other Major Planning Initiatives

Staff had provided an issue update summarizing the tasks related to the CCP and the other major planning initiatives that occurred over the past month.  The update also included anticipated actions for the coming month.  No action was required.

 

Order for Compromise of Tax Penalties for Housing Assistance Corporation

On February 18, 2004, the Board of Commissioners granted the request of Housing Assistance Corporation to compromise 100% of the tax penalties applied against the Parkview Apartments property, located on Powell Street, Hendersonville, NC, as part of the discovery of the property from a tax-exempt to a taxable status for the 1998-2003 tax years.

 

Staff requested the Board adopt the prepared order.  A copy of that Order is attached hereto and incorporated as a part of the minutes.

 

Employee Recognitions/Awards

The Board had asked that this item be included on the agenda for special recognition of our departments’ and employees’ achievements.

 

The National Registry of Worker’s Compensation Specialists recognized that Mary Alice Jackson had attained the designation of Registered Workers’ Compensation Specialist and having agreed to abide by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice thereof, was authorized to use RWCS and Registered Workers’ Compensation Specialist with rights and privileges pertaining thereto. 

 

NOMINATIONS

Notification of Vacancies

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

 

1.                   Henderson County Planning Board – 3 vac.

2.                   Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee – 1 vac.

3.                   Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 1 vac.

 

Nominations

The Chairman 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.

 

  1. Equalization and Review – 1 vac.

Chairman Hawkins informed the Board that they needed to appoint a chairman.  Mr. William Farrell had indicated that he is willing to serve as Chairman.  Chairman Hawkins placed Mr. Farrell’s name in nomination for that position.  There were no other nominations.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Farrell by acclamation.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

  1. Fletcher Zoning Board of Adjustment – 1 vac.

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

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 1 vac.

Commissioner Messer nominated Jason Hayes to fill position #13 as the Juvenile Defense Attorney.  There were no other nominations.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Hayes by acclamation.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

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

Commissioner Young nominated Pat Jurima for reappointment to position # 22.  Commissioner Messer nominated Martha Sachs for reappointment to position #1.  Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept both these nominees by acclamation.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

  1. Planning for Older Adults Block Grant Advisory Committee – 2 vac.

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

 

  1. Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.

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

 

  1. Solid Waste Advisory Committee – 3 vac.

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

 

10.  WCCA Board of Directors – 1 vac.

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

 

SALES TAX PROPOSAL RESPONSES

Chairman Hawkins informed the Board that we had received four responses from the Sales Tax Proposal: Hendersonville, Mills River, Flat Rock, and Laurel Park.  We had not received a response yet from the Town of Fletcher.  Fletcher meets this evening and planned to cover that issue.

 

Staff had provided a draft Proposal for a Sales Tax Distribution Agreement between Henderson County and the City of Hendersonville, Town of Laurel Park, Town of Fletcher, Village of Flat Rock, and the Town of Mills River. 

 

A three year term was recommended.  Henderson County would agree to leave the Per Capita method of sales tax distribution in place instead of changing it to the Ad Valorem tax levy method.  The municipalities would agree to pay the County on a monthly basis based on a formula for three fiscal years beginning in Fiscal Year 2004-05. 

 

The Board reviewed and discussed the formula, as presented, a copy of which is attached hereto and incorporated as a part of the minutes.  Chairman Hawkins suggested that Ms. Beeker draw up a preliminary document that we would be able to use in accordance with the schedule set down and to have that ready and available when we hear a response from the Town of Fletcher. 

 

Chairman Hawkins stated that Mills River asked that the Board take a look at the possibility of  creating an economic development fund with their resources. 

 

Ms. Beeker advised that this was a policy consideration for the Board as to whether they wished to involve everyone or no-one or part of the municipalities.  It would be a contract the Board would be entering with whomever. She suggested that the Board decide what dollar value they were looking for and then if only three municipalities were to participate would the Board divide the figure between the three or would they keep the three participants to the same level of contribution as had already been discussed.  She felt that the Board should decide on this if the Board was considering allowing less than all the municipalities to come to the table and the Board would still be willing to enter into an agreement.

 

Chairman Hawkins stated that Flat Rock and Mills River are really the biggest contributors, having the most to lose.  If they are willing to go along with the agreement as far as a pay back or dollar amount then he felt that the question is whether or not the Board wishes to accept some of the municipalities participating and others not participating. The Board would need to consider the effect on those municipalities that choose to participate and those that did not.  

 

Commissioner Baldwin made the motion that if at least three of the five municipalities agree to the offer from the county, that the county extend the offer to those three.  If only two agree, that this Board change the distribution based on the ad valorem method.  A vote was taken and the motion failed four to one with Commissioner Baldwin the only aye vote.

 

Chairman Hawkins then amended the motion that Commissioner Baldwin had on the floor for negotiation to generate the $500,000 between the three of them the first year and the corresponding dollar amounts from the original offer for years two and three between any of the remaining municipalities.

 

Discussion followed about making it percentages of the amount rather than holding two or three municipalities to pay for the five, they would just pay their percentage of the pay back.   

 

Item continued

The Board rolled action on this item until later in the meeting, hoping to hear from the Town of Fletcher regarding their response to the Board’s proposal.  Chairman Hawkins withdrew his motion pending an update from the Town of Fletcher, prior to the end of the meeting.  If the Board doesn’t hear from Fletcher prior to the end of the meeting,  they’ll pick up this discussion before adjourning.

 

BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY POSITION

Stan Duncan, County Assessor, requested authorization from the Board to create a position to ensure compliance with business personal property.

 

In the past, Henderson County has contracted with Tax Management Associates to perform business personal property audits.  This firm worked on a commission fee basis receiving 35% of any discovery that they found.

 

Mr. Duncan’s memo requesting this new position stated:

 

In conjunction with the calculation of a reliable estimate of the 2004 tax base, and as part of the preparation of the assessor’s budget request, it has become quite apparent that Henderson County would benefit greatly from the expertise an employee with auditing experience would bring to the assessor’s office, specifically in regards to the listing and appraisal of business-personal property.

 

In order to justify the salary necessary to attract qualified applicants, he wrote the job description to 1, address the specific responsibility of auditing business-personal listings and 2, supervisory duties over the personal property division of the office.  He believes that the hiring of someone as a county employee to perform the auditing aspect of the position is far more beneficial to the county than contracting with an outside auditing firm.  Outside auditing firms rarely delve below the top layer of accounts.  An in-house employee will review all business-personal accounts on record.  A successful review will result in one of three findings: 1, the taxpayer has either under-listed or not listed taxable property and is subject to “discovery”, 2, the taxpayer has over-listed and is entitled to a refund or release, or 3, the taxpayer has listed accurately and no changes are necessary to their timely and accurate listings.

 

After observing the 2004 listing process, Mr. Duncan concluded there is a great need for this type of expertise in our program.  The county has essentially operated a “self-assessment” system based on taxpayer records prepared with an eye towards Federal and State income tax codes.  The requirements of the property tax do not always operate in sync with the IRS Code. In addition, he found disparity among the valuations from 2003 and the returns submitted for 2004 which can only be reconciled through the efforts of someone with an auditing background.

 

David Nicholson stated that when he met with Mr. Duncan to review the current tax levy, it became apparent that we need to have a position that specifically deals with business personal property.  He felt it best to deal with this important issue before the development of next fiscal year’s budget.  No additional funds are being requested for the current fiscal year.  Funds are available already within the Assessor’s budget.

 

The purpose of this position is not to go after one class of property owner, it is to make sure that we’re treating everyone equitably.

 

Mr. Duncan stressed that they would not be able to review all the accounts in one year.  It will take about three years to go through all the different accounts.  It will allow them to go through in the same fashion that they do with real property.  The appraisal would be more creditable. 

 

Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to approve this position as requested.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Break

Chairman Hawkins called a short technical break, to change audiotapes.

 

INFORMAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

1. Dick Baird – Mr. Baird discussed the fact that the County Assessor had informed the Board that the property tax revenues would be flat this coming year.  The County Manager had informed the Board that the sales tax revenues that the state had anticipated had not materialized and that the outlook is pretty much flat for next year.  Henderson County won’t see much revenue growth. 

 

Mr. Baird stated that we need revenue and we have a chance to get it by changing the sales tax distribution method to ad valorem. That could net about $1.9 million.  He stated that the Board is choosing to give away $1.4 million of that, that’s about 2 cents worth of property tax that 93,000 citizens will have to pick up.  He doesn’t think that the 60,000 county residents that do not live in municipalities are being adequately represented.  He stated that the Board’s allegiance seems to be with the municipalities.  He doesn’t feel that his interests are being looked out for. 

 

Mr. Baird stated that the revenues are flat.  The School Board is in the process of approving a $1.2 million growth in their operating budget, that’s another 1.5 cent on the sales tax if you don’t have any growth in your revenues.  Wednesday night the County Manager mentioned that he had $2 million worth of new hires that the staff wants, certainly he will pare that.  Some of those are from the school system. 

 

Within the past three months the Board has increased next year’s budget.  It was just done again when the Board approved Mr. Duncan’s request for another person.  That means the budget goes up next year.  The Board approved the Assistant County Manager, that means the budget goes up next year. 

 

He stated the Board is faced with some real problems and he’s not sure they’re dealing with them in a manner that is going to solve them.  He is unhappy with the distribution of the sales tax.  He feels the Board is not doing right by those who reside in the county.

 

COUNTY SERVICES BUILDING

David Nicholson reviewed a report prepared by Calloway Johnson Moore & West, PA of Asheville entitled “A Scope Evaluation for Henderson County - County Services Building”.  This was the study the Board approved to look at the feasibility of consoliding several county departments into a central county services facility at the Spartanburg Highway location.  Basically it would be a two-story office building. Several options were offered for the actual building and site.  Mr. Nicholson had originally been concerned whether enough square footage could be placed on that property with the kind of growth areas the Board wanted, parking, etc.  He felt this report was well worth while to make sure the Board has good quality information to make the decision.  Mr. Nicholson stated that it is a 120,000 square foot facility.  The courthouse is a 100,000 square foot facility so it is larger.  There is 100,000 square feet of occupied space in the building and room for expansion.  He introduced Allen McQuinn from Calloway Johnson Moore & West to present the options to the Board and answer questions.

 

Mr. McQuinn  reminded the Board that his firm was tasked with evaluating the feasibility of combining the considered departments in one location, 1220 Spartanburg Highway, evaluating the square footage requirements of those departments and seeing if they would fit on the site with the required parking.  That’s what they did.

 

The intention was also to establish a scope for the project and a preliminary budget once the square footage was determined.  They used information provided from previous programming efforts as their basis and created a program frame.  They then returned and did some select interviews with department staff to check and verify to be sure they had everything covered and to be sure there weren’t changes that would be necessary.  They combined all that information.  Mr. McQuinn stated that the departments included will take about 100,000 square feet of space.  20,000 square feet of space has been included for future expansion.

 

Mr. McQuinn stated that it was determined from this evaluation that the site would support 120,000 square feet on two floors with 300 parking spaces (zoning requirement for the site).  In some of the options there are more than 300 parking spaces. 

 

Mr. McQuinn reviewed all four options or schemes.  Some were two separate buildings, others were one L-shaped building with separate entrances. They had also worked up a preliminary budget estimate and a preliminary schedule for the project which he reviewed with the Board.  The project is estimated to take between 20 and 24 months.  The project is estimated to cost $12,567,000.

 

The structure would be a pre-engineered metal building with a metal roof and a hard coat stucco and brick exterior.   

 

Mr. Quinn stated that scheme D appears to be more economical.  The square footage cost is $86 sq. ft.  A 10% contingency is built in. 

 

There was some discussion concerning the fact that the state legislature may take up the issue of counties not providing public health departments in the future. Chairman Hawkins asked about our options if that happens.  It appears that we would be able to locate everything else in one of the buildings and still have the possibility of adding the second building sometime in the future, if needed.   

 

Mr. Nicholson reviewed preliminary estimated costs for the project with the Board.

 

Base Construction                                                          $10,400,000

            Contingencies (10%)                                              1,040,000

            Financing Costs                                            172,000

            Design Costs (8%)                                                   925,000

            Testing                                                           30,000

                                                                                                                        $12,567,000

 

Other:

            Powerline                                                                  54,000

            Fire Pump                                                                 90,000

            Sale of Buildings                                       -3,036,000

            Health Dept – Medicaid Reserve                 -1,126,000

            CAT Loan                                                             2,120,000

            Previous Fees                                                           725,441

            FF&E                                                                      400,000

                                                                                                                        -     772,559     

Net Loan Costs                                                                                      $11,794,441

 

Debt:

            $940,135           Debt Service @5% for 20 years

             -235,000          DSS Space – Indirect Cost

             -307,537          Current Debt Payment on CAT Loan

              - 45,000          Elimination of Leases

            $352,598           Short

 

Mr. Nicholson requested the Board authorize staff to put numbers into the contract, then the firm will go ahead and design the building. Mr. Nicholson favored scheme D. 

 

Commissioner Messer stated that there is a definite need for this building, stating we need to do something soon.  This idea has been discussed for three years or more. 

 

Commissioner Moyer expressed opposition to the project as is, stating it was much more construction than we can afford at this time.  He stated that the Board has major capital obligations.

 

Commissioner Baldwin stated that this is a project that the county has been needing to move on for quite some time.  He’d like to see the design process continue.

 

Commissioner Young favored scheme C.  He felt it would make a more attractive building.  He also liked the set up for the parking for the Board of Elections.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to authorize the design at a fixed fee as indicated for the design portion of the project, $925,000.  A vote was taken and the motion carried four to one with Commissioner Moyer voting nay.

 

Break

Chairman Hawkins called a short technical break to change videotapes. 

 

Announcement

David Nicholson informed the Board that the phone call he just received was from the Town of Fletcher and they had voted unanimously to support the Board change to the Ad Valorem tax distribution method. He wanted the Board to have this information before the break began.

 

Chairman Hawkins called the meeting back to order, stating we would continue with the public hearings then likely continue the discussions regarding sales tax distribution method.

 

PUBLIC HEARING – Rezoning Application #R-04-01 (R-15 to C-2P)

Charles Pace, Applicant, Charlene Rogers, Applicant’s Agent

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

 

Autumn Radcliff, of the Henderson County Planning Department, addressed the Board.  She informed the Board that 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 (SR #1776) and Shepherd Street (SR #1779).

 

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.

 

In accordance with Section 200-76 of the Henderson County Zoning Ordinance and State Law, notices of the Public Hearing regarding Rezoning Application #R-04-01 were published in the Hendersonville Times-News on March 16, 2004 and March 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 Parcel on March 17, 2004.  Planning Staff posted signs advertising the hearing on the Subject Parcel on March 24, 2004. 

 

Ms. Radcliff informed the Board that staff does not feel this property should be commercial at this time.  She located the Subject Parcel on a map for the Board.  She also reviewed the set-back requirements, etc. for the Subject Parcel.  She reviewed the list of approved uses for the property.

 

On January 7, 2002, the Board of Commissioners accepted the US 25 South Corridor Study Plan.  The study only looked at US 25 South, a 300 foot wide buffer strip on either side of the road which didn’t go up and include the Subject Parcel but the plan did address areas that bordered the 300 foot wide strip which did take into consideration the Subject Parcel.  The recommended zoning map for the US 25 South Corridor Study supported the county R-15 residential zoning district on the subject parcel and recommended that the area that is currently zoned RT on the map from US 25 up to Resort Street which goes up to the Subject Parcel be zoned to a C-2P Preservation Neighborhood Commercial District.  It didn’t include the subject parcel therefore this plan is inconsistent with the zoning recommendation. 

 

Ms. Radcliff referenced the 1993 Henderson County Comprehensive Land Use Map, stating that both the future land use map and the text say that this area around the Subject Parcel is suitable for residential growth.  A goal of the plan was to minimize conflicts between housing and other land uses by using buffering although C-2P zoning district does not require any buffering. There’s no buffering between the uses that would be allowed on the Subject Parcel under C-2P and the surrounding neighborhood. Another goal was to identify appropriate land area for residential development within the county.  This area was recommended for R-15 on it.  The commercial development at any scale was not intended for this community.  Another goal was to recommend that indiscriminate sprawl and haphazard development should be avoided through county-wide zoning

 

The question was raised whether or not this could be considered “spot zoning”. 

 

On February 17, 2004, the Henderson County Planning Board looked at this application.  Two motions were made on it, both failed.  The first motion was made to deny the application as submitted.  The second motion was to actually approve the application as submitted.  It was then that the Planning Board decided to vote and send to the Board of Commissioners a split recommendation, 3 – 3. 

 

Ms. Radcliff referred to some pictures that show the subject parcel, explaining each one to the Board of Commissioners. 

 

Mrs. Beeker reminded the Board that they must consider all the uses that are listed as possible uses when they consider the input and make their decision, not just a particular proposed use.

 

Public Input

  1. Charlene Pace Rogers  - Ms. Rogers was the agent for the applicant, her brother. Ms. Rogers lives across the street from the Subject Parcel.  The rent where she currently has her salon is going higher and higher.  She stated that this would be a way for her to stay in business.   She submitted a letter from one of the adjacent property owners stating that he doesn’t have any objection to this rezoning request.  His letter was notarized.  He could not be present this evening.

 

  1. Robert Bissone - Mr. Bissone lives down the road from this proposed spot zoning.  He lives in Country Meadows which are individually owned condominiums that are well maintained and are a credit to the community.  He stated that if the Board changes that zoning, it is changed for any business that falls under the zone. 

 

He also mentioned all the dips and rises in the road on Shepherd Street, making it hard to see on-coming traffic for people entering and exiting this small business on the Subject Parcel. 

 

Mrs. Beeker reminded the Board that for spot zoning to be legal there needs to be something about that particular parcel that sets it apart from the surrounding parcels that would justify it being zoned a different zone.

 

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

 

Following discussion, Commissioner Young made the motion that the Board deny the rezoning request.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

PUBLIC HEARING – Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP)

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

 

David Nicholson informed the Board of an application received for the Fiscal Year 2004-05 Rural Operating Assistance Program.  This grant is one of the major funding sources for Apple Country Transit that we have received for several years.  The purpose of this public hearing was to hear comments on applying for this transportation grant.  The application calls for a match from Henderson County in the amount of $14,000 for the next fiscal year.

 

The Transportation Advisory Committee voted unanimously at their March 3, 2004 meeting to recommend that the Board of Commissioners support a public transit system.

 

Mr. Nicholson introduced David White from WCCA to answer any questions.  Mr. White reminded the Board that they would be applying to NC Department of Transportation for $126,566.  The purposes of the funds – they provide transportation.  A lot of it goes to one particular route that goes out into the northern and eastern parts of the county and provides transportation for participants at the Sheltered Workshop/SEEACO, Trend Mental Health’s CEO Program, and employment transportation for other disabled individuals in that area.  These funds are also used to supplement medical transportation for disabled people and for folks over 60 years of age that are Henderson County residents. 

 

Mr. White stated that originally in the public hearing notice it was mentioned that we would be presenting the rural general public discretionary funds and the intercity public transportation funds but that was incorrect.  Those will be discussed at a later date.

 

The recommendation from Mr. White’s staff was to use $5,044 of the Work First monies for fixed route public transportation.  Their recommendation was also to use $37,956 of the rural general public funds towards the fixed routes.

 

Mr. White has been in contact with the NC Department of Transportation.  He stated that if we’re going to take advantage of the other $188,240 for rural general public discretionary and intercity public transportation, they’re gonna need to know something by May 4.

 

Mr. White stated that Miriam Perry is looking for a plan from Henderson County by December or a commitment by the County to have a plan in place by December if we’re going to accept the $188,240 (for FY 2004-05).  In other words they will give us until May 4 to decide whether or not we will have a plan in place by December on how we will fund public transportation in the next fiscal year, 2005-06.

 

Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that he had tried to keep the two issues separate:

 

1.                   Public Hearing on the ROAP grant which is a legal requirement.

2.                   A long term issue associated with how to deal with the general public transportation program.

 

This evening all we’re dealing with is the ROAP grant and the three pieces of that grant. We have received this grant for the past 8-10 years. It is used for human services transportation in the county. The ROAP funds go to Mr. McLelland’s office but are designated for the designated human services transportation provider in our county which is WCCA.

 

The other item will be on a future agenda.  The Board will have to respond back to the State on how to handle the monies.

 

Public Input

  1. Richard Waters – Mr. Waters explained that he had called WCCA for transportation assistance on four occasions over the last 6 or 7 years. These trips were mainly for medical purposes.  Prior to turning 62 or 65 years of age, he was told that he didn’t qualify because he wasn’t disabled and wasn’t old enough.  On another occasion he was told that he didn’t live close enough to the bus that was run.  Within the last year he called for transportation for a dental appointment.  He called the FISH line and got Apple Country Transportation and was told that they were full.  He needed to make an appointment on the next day.   About 2 weeks ago he called a fourth time because of a medical procedure needing to be performed at Pardee Hospital.  Doctor’s orders stated that he should not drive himself. He was told that he should apply for a copay.  He called four taxi services listed in the yellow pages prior to calling WCCA this fourth time.  Two taxi services did not answer, one wanted $30.00 round trip which was a limousine type service and industrial courier service.  He was told it would be $25.00 if Apple Country Transportation picked him up.

 

  1. Eva Ritchey - Ms. Ritchey stated “When men say truly great things, I don’t think we can repeat them too much and a truly great man said ‘The test of a truly great nation was not whether it provided much for those who have a lot but whether it provided enough for those who have too little.’” She expressed that statement by Franklin Roosevelt is just as true today as it was then and it’s probably more true of a community.  The public transit system that we have put in Henderson County has provided for those who have too little.  Interestingly it also provides for a lot of people who have too much.  We spend a lot of time and effort encouraging older folks to move here.  We have created an economy based on retirees.  If we want to do that we also have to pay the cost involved in doing so which means providing them with services.  She stated that she was very much in favor of continuing this service.  She stated that the public transit system is good for our economy and our environment.  She hopes the Board will consider keeping it and expanding it.  She stated that we have no Saturday service now so people who work on Four Seasons Boulevard and use the transit system through the week have to make other arrangements to get to work on Saturdays.  The transit system doesn’t run in the late evenings.  “We need more money and we need more support for this system so we can have a truly convenient system. Until a transit system is convenient, it’s not used.”  She referenced a newspaper article which stated that older drivers are more prone to crashes and are more likely to die in them.   

 

  1. Paul Stepp – Mr. Stepp stated that there are still voids in our transportation system.  There are many people that have problems such as Mr. Waters expressed.  Some people can get to work on the bus but cannot get back home because the bus quits running at 7:00 p.m. 

 

Mr. Stepp stated that if we can get some of these older people off the road and if we can provide the younger kids with transportation to get to the YMCA, Patton Park, the mall, or to work, imagine how much traffic that will alleviate as well as air pollution. 

 

He suggested placing this on the ballot, beginning at maybe 50 cents or even $1.00 so we could put some in reserve for future expansion.

 

Chairman Hawkins asked Ms. Beeker if this was an item that could be put on referendum.  She stated that there is a short list.  She has not reviewed to see if that is on the list but stated that probably it was one you would have to get special legislation to put on the ballot.

 

  1. Kathie VanItalie – Ms. VanItalie stated that she has lived in Henderson County since 1975 and it’s a wonderful place to live.  Up until 3 ˝ years ago she was one of those people who hopped in the car, ran her errands, ran the children everywhere, etc.  That will no longer happen due to a massive neurological problem losing a lot of her vision. With a short walk and a small amount of money she can now utilize public transportation and can get anywhere in the county. 

 

Mrs. VanItalie stated that public transportation is needed in Henderson County.  There are people who are using it for getting to work, getting to doctor’s offices, everywhere you can think of that you want to go.  “What we have is wonderful and I just hope that we can keep it.”

 

  1. Mac Hart – Mr. Hart works with the Faith Link Teams of the county, teams from 10 or 12 churches that have worked with 50 or 60 families coming off of Welfare and attempting to achieve self-sufficiency.  When people make it off of Welfare and into entry-level jobs the money they can earn provides about half enough to take care of a family.  One of the huge items that is involved in that is the item of transportation, the need to provide a car and transportation to get to work.  Mr. Hart urged the Board to consider all the ways possible to continue public transportation for the county because of the needs of the working poor.

 

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

 

Following some discussion, Commissioner Moyer made the motion that the Board approve the ROAP application for $126,566 for the 2004-05 budget.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Mr. Nicholson briefly discussed the next piece of the puzzle, which he plans to put on the Board’s next agenda regarding if the State gives us this money, whether or not the Board plans to have a plan in place by the end of December to deal with transportation for the following fiscal year.  He informed the Board that in the total system there are 22 miles within the City of Hendersonville, 12 miles in the Town of Fletcher, one mile in Laurel Park, and 58 miles in the unincorporated area.  He stated that the Board will need to determine whether or not they want to accept the State monies with one stipulation, continue the same transportation program we have today but work together (with all the parties) to develop a plan to turn into the state by the end of the calendar year.

 

PUBLIC INPUT SESSION – State Road Abandonment Petition

Rocky Hyder informed the Board that staff had received a NC State Road Abandonment Petition from the property owners along State Road #1784 (Case Road Extension).  Per the Board’s instruction, comments were requested from agencies providing emergency services to this area of the county (i.e. Sheriff, EMS, Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue).  Those departments responded with no objection to the proposed abandonment.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion that the Board forward the request to NC DOT for abandonment of SR #1784 (Case Road Extension).  All voted in favor and the motion carried.  The Board of Commissioners does not abandon a road but rather asks the Department of Transportation to abandon it.

 

Continuation of discussion on Item “A” – Sales Tax Proposal Responses

Please refer to this item earlier in this same set of minutes for initial presentation and discussions.

 

Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board now has a response from the Town of Fletcher.  He stated that the first thing the Board needed to decide was whether they would consider portions of the offer made to those municipalities wanting to participate excluding the others or is it “all or none”. 

 

Much discussion followed.  Part of the discussion was whether to expect the two municipalities to pay the cost for the five or to disregard the pay back from the three municipalities that don’t want to go this route.

 

Chairman Hawkins invited the two Mayors in attendance to come forward and make a comment on a two-year agreement and it would be the money originally proposed by the county.

 

Flat Rock’s share would be $137,243 the first year and the second year it would be $205,864.  Mayor Shaw stated that he would take this issue back to his Council. 

 

The Board of Commissioners is proposing that at the end of two years they would likely go to the Ad Valorem Tax Distribution Method. 

 

Chairman Hawkins requested that Ms. Beeker draft a contract for each of the municipalities to take back to their Councils.

 

Mills River’s share would be $289,161 the first year and the second year it would be $433,742. Mayor Snyder stated his Council would meet on Thursday night and wondered if they could have a draft document by then.  Mayor Shaw stated they also would have a Council meeting on Thursday and would like to have the document to review and approve.

 

Mayor Snyder stated that economic development concerned him for the future.  Chairman Hawkins stated that would have to be a separate dialogue. 

 

Commissioner Moyer made the motion that the Board of Commissioners make the offer to all 5 of the municipalities but the agreement will clearly provide that if only Flat Rock and Mills River sign on, we will continue, this is our decision and we’re moving in this direction – 2 years with the same dollars from the original agreement. 

 

Angela Beeker requested that the Board go into closed session to consult with her as provided per NCGS 143-318.11(a)(3). 

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to amend the agenda to add (a)(3) back to the agenda.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

CLOSED SESSION

The Board went into a brief closed session to consult with the County Attorney per her request.

 

The Board reconvened in open session.

 

Commissioner Moyer restated his motion on the floor --- “that we make the same offer to all of the municipalities but with the clear understanding that we’re gonna proceed even if only Flat Rock and Mills River accept the offer but it will be a two-year deal, the same numbers that were in the initial letter.” All voted in favor and the motion carried. 

 

The County Attorney was directed to get the document ready and out to everyone by Thursday.

 

UPDATE ON PENDING ISSUES

Water Agreement update

Bill Lapsley reminded the Board that approx. nine months ago the Board of Commissioners appointed him to be one of the two representatives the Board has on the Regional Water Authority.  In January, after representative Jack Tate rolled off the Board, the Authority members elected Mr. Lapsley as their Chairman. 

 

The principle activity has been dealing with a consultant that the Authority hired in early 2003.  The consultant hired was Brown & Caldwell.  They are a consulting engineering firm with offices all over the country.  Their office in Charlotte is handling a very large project, multitasks some 14 or 16 various tasks for the Authority.  Among those they are doing is a comprehensive look at the whole authority operation (the City of Asheville’s Water operation).  Among the tasks they are looking at were:

 

1.                   Water meters in this system.  The Asheville water system has experienced for many years a very high unaccounted for water number, much higher than the industry standard and they’ve been working diligently to try and reduce that.  That comes into play in a number of ways such as leaks in the water system and accuracy of the meters in their system.  It has been determined that there may be some room for improvement in their meter reading and accuracy program.  They are engaged in a major overhaul of that program.

 

2.                   Asset management plan. The authority has under its pervue all of the assets of the City of Asheville water system.  That is a large system.  If all the water lines, pumping stations, reservoirs, treatment plants, etc. that are listed in the assets of the City of Asheville’s water system were to be replaced today the number that they presented to Commissioner Baldwin and Mr. Lapsley about a month or so ago was $ 750 million.  Those assets have come onto the system over a very long period of time, since about 1915 on through the years as new facilities have been brought online.  Those assets have a useful life and they are going to wear out and will need to be replaced over a period of time.  That’s also been a part of one of the problems with the Asheville water system, they have aging water lines and aging pumping stations that are in need of replacement.  That is all part of the asset management plan – to come up with a comprehensive program for replacing these assets over the number of years in the future.  Each year some of these assets reach their useful life and it’s time to replace them. The useful life on a pumping station may be 50 years and if it’s been in service for 52 years, statistics say it’s gonna fail in the not too distant future and it’s not good to wait until it breaks down to replace it. The asset management program leads into what the authority has been presented with and that is a repair and replacement program to deal with these aging assets.  In order to replace these assets that start to meet their useful life, it’s gonna take a significant amount of money every year to do the replacement program and the number that the authority has been presented with is approx. $5.5 million a year.  That will go up with inflation as time moves on.  If the system does not provide those funds in a timely manner every year, then they are quickly falling behind.  That is a major item on the agenda for the authority, to discuss how to fund this repair and replacement program in the coming years. 

 

3.                   One other task the consultant has been looking at is the upgrade of the North Fork Water Treatment Plant.  That is the main water treatment plant at Black Mountain that this system has and it provides about 25,000,000 gallons a day into the water system.  Under new EPA standards that plant has got to be upgraded, some new technology and some improvements to that plant. 

 

4.                   One other task that will be reviewed in the next few months is the Asheville water system has had a water plant that’s located on the Bee Tree Reservoir.  It’s recently been renamed the DeBruehl Water Plant.  That water plant was constructed in the early 1960’s and it draws its supply out of the Bee Tree Reservoir which is also in the Swannanoa River Valley.  In the late 1990’s the spillway on the dam at the Bee Tree Reservoir was ruled to be of inadequate size by the NC Dam Safety Officials.  What that did was – that action by the State required the City of Asheville, which owned the reservoir, to lower the reservoir and take the Bee Tree plant off line.  That water treatment plant has been inactive for a number of years while the City of Asheville replaced the spillway on that dam.  That project has recently been completed and one of the tasks that this consulting firm has before it is to look at that treatment plant and determine what expenses would be necessary to bring it back online.  That water treatment plant is served by the Bee Tree Reservoir which furnishes its water supply to the DeBruehl Water Plant by gravity. This leads to the item that has been discussed recently in the press and that is the Mills River Water Plant and the possibility that if the consultant presents to the water authority a recommendation that it would be cheaper for the authority to operate the DeBruehl Water Plant to furnish supplemental water into the system rather than the Mills River Plant for economic reasons, then there is a question about whether the Mills River Regional Water Plant could be operated on a less frequent basis. That is the item that will be presented and discussed by the authority in the next few months. 

 

Mr. Lapsley stated those are a few of the things that are included in the consultant’s work and has been the main focus of the authority’s work in the last nine months that he has been on the authority.  In the next 30 – 60 days the authority will be reviewing budget issues for the authority.  It may not be general public knowledge but the water authority budget this past year was $22 million.  It is a sizeable operation, a large staff, with a lot of assets.  This is a major operation.  In the budget sessions will be much discussion of how the authority will recommend funding this $5.5 million effort to replace aging assets. Also included in the budget are critical needs projects.  Those are waterlines that are in dire need of replacement, part of the asset program.  There are some $25 million worth of known critical needs in their system that the authority needs to seriously take a look at.  In conjunction with those two things and the authority’s budget, obviously the issue of a water rate increase is on the table.  There have been several options presented preliminarily to the authority and those will be debated at an upcoming meeting on April 16.  Mr. Lapsley stated that it was clear to him that the authority will be looking at the budget of the system very carefully, not only at the issue of a water rate increase but at what areas of the existing budget can be used to come into play to fund these needs of the water system.

 

Mr. Lapsley stated that a number of the members of the authority had spoken to him personally and indicated a strong interest to get issues that Henderson County has with the agreement and the other parties to the authority (the City of Asheville and Buncombe County) - any issues that the Commissioners have with regard to the agreement they want to get settled. 

 

He informed the Board that he was available to convey the Board of Commissioners’ thoughts to the authority and the other members as the Board of Commissioners sees fit.

 

Mr. Lapsley answered some questions from the Board.

 

This was an update.  No action was required. 

 

Commissioner Baldwin felt that it was time that the Board decides whether to try to negotiate a true authority or to continue just to play along, or maybe get out or even to try to partner with some other municipalities to come up with our own regional water authority.  He would like to have some direction from this Board to take to the Regional Water Authority meetings. What does this Board want to do?

 

Chairman Hawkins stated that the economics of the situation and the gravity of it is something that Asheville and Buncombe County are certainly going to have to recognize. 

 

The City of Asheville gets 5% of the total gross revenues of the water system.  Buncombe County gets 2.5% of the gross revenues.  Henderson County gets nothing.  The City of Asheville and Buncombe County have a significant financial interest in what the gross revenues are for the water system.  If there is a water rate increase, whatever percent it goes up, 7.5% comes off the top to go to those two parties.  That issue Mr. Lapsley has informally discussed with the parties and there doesn’t seem to be any interest in changing that condition of the agreement.  To amend that out of the agreement would take approval from all three parties. 

 

Chairman Hawkins stated that there were some provisions in our agreement to have some revenue off of the sale of water that comes back to Henderson County.  He stated that he didn’t think we had ever seen any of that.  He further stated that our municipalities in our county and Henderson County will always have an issue of water.  He stated that for the first time in a decade the City of Asheville and the City of Hendersonville are having some dialogue on exchanging water.  It’s a good opportunity for Henderson County and Hendersonville and/or other counties to enter into some dialogue and see if the City of Asheville would like to enter into some kind of agreement on the water plant possibly for the county and/or other municipalities to purchase the water plant.  It’s an asset in Henderson County that Chairman Hawkins feels someone in the county should own.  If the City of Hendersonville is looking at a need for future water capacity, it seems that would be a match that we should take a look at.  The current Hendersonville Plant’s only intake is on the Mills River whereas this Mills River Plant with ABW has an intake both on the Mills River and the French Broad which has a considerable amount of some of the best quality water in western North Carolina.  He stated it is a financial concern that everybody ought to be interested in.  He feels that the timing is right now. 

 

Commissioner Moyer reminded the Board that we have a Water & Sewer Advisory Committee that has spent a lot of time looking at this issue.  He stated that the City of Hendersonville does not feel that they need additional water capacity. The City of Hendersonville is talking to the City of Asheville about buying some water.  The issue has been that the City wants to buy raw water and Asheville wants to sell them treated water. 

 

It was suggested that the Board of Commissioners have Mayor Niehoff come address the Board about the City of Hendersonville’s projected water needs.  There was also a mention of having Mayor Worley come address this Board from the City of Asheville as well as the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.  Mr. Nicholson will work on a date initially for this Board to meet with the City of Hendersonville Mayor and Council.  

 

Animal Shelter update

Commissioner Moyer asked that this be added on to give Mr. Nicholson a chance to comment on a letter received from O’Cain Design Group, PA raising questions regarding the bidding on the new animal shelter facility.

 

Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that  NCGS 143-64.31(a) says select firms qualified to provide such services on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualification of the type of professional services required without regard to fee other than unit price information at this stage and then when negotiating contract at a fair and reasonable fee with the best qualified firm. 

 

He stated that NC law requires you to go through a two stage process, one is to take requests for qualifications to find out what someone’s qualifications are.  We did that.  Mr. Nicholson brought to the Board a list of the six names of the six firms that submitted a proposal to us.  A staff team took those names and went through each one of the six proposals.  There were two firms who had constructed animal shelters in the past, one had done four and one had done three. The others have never designed an animal shelter.  They were eliminated because of the fact that they did not meet the demonstrated competence and qualifications to design a facility.  Mr. Nicholson stated that the Board could exempt themselves from that if they so choose to.

 

Mr. Nicholson received phone calls from a couple of the firms that asked where we were in the process.  He informed them that we had a short list of two firms.  He got a call back wanting to know who the two firms were.  He told them.  That is the reason for the letter from O’Cain.

 

Mr. Nicholson explained that the State Law does hurt small local firms.  He doesn’t particularly like the law but we must abide by it, unless the Board exempts themselves from it.

 

IMPORTANT DATES

NC DOT Secondary Road Program

The NC DOT had contacted Henderson County to schedule our annual spring public hearing on the “North Carolina Department of Transportation 2004-2005 Secondary Road Improvement Program.”  Typically NC DOT tries to do two public hearings a day, and will be in Polk County on May 24 in the afternoon.

 

NC DOT suggested a date for Henderson County’s hearing of May 24, 2004 at 10:00 a.m.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set the requested public hearing for Monday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Continuation of Quasi-Judicial Proceeding

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to reconvene the Quasi-Judicial proceeding continued from Thursday, April 1 @ WHHS regarding the Motocross issue. All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion to continue the proceeding to April 22 at 6:00 p.m. at West Henderson High School auditorium.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to adjourn the Quasi-Judicial proceeding and reconvene their regularly scheduled meeting.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that registration forms are now available for the County Commissioners’ Association District meetings.  Our district meeting is Tuesday, April 20 beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Jackson County, just outside Sylva, in Webster, NC.  This is the same date as the LGCCA meeting. 

 

Mr. Nicholson also reminded the Board that April 19-23 is County Government Week.  The Board’s meeting is mid-week, on April 21.  He informed the Board of some of the activities scheduled for that week.

 

CLOSED SESSION

Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into closed session as allowed pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11 for the following reason(s):

 

1.         (a)(6)    To consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee; or to hear or investigate a complaint, charge, or grievance by or against an individual public officer or employee. 

 

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.

 

 

Adjourn

Commissioner Messer made the motion for the Board to adjourn at 10:10 p.m.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.

 

Attest:

 

 

                                                                                                                                                           

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