May 15, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a joint work session with the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Education on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 at 6:15 PM in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center in the Administrative Building, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Chairman Odom stated that the purpose of the joint work session with the Planning & Zoning Commission was to address countywide zoning and to review proposed zoning land use maps for Alexander County. Chairman Odom also stated that he felt the time had arrived to move forward with this project to provide land protection for the property owners in Alexander County.
PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF COUNTYWIDE ZONING MAPS
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, distributed copies of comment sheets received at the 4 public information meetings held on countywide zoning. The 16 comment sheets included staff comments and action taken. Ms. Turnmire also distributed copies of the public hearing notice to be placed in The Taylorsville Times next week. Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that Ed Hedrick, County Attorney, had approved the notice today, May 15, 2001, and that letters would be sent to all citizens outside of The Taylorsville Times circulation area which would total approximately 2,000 letters.
John Marshall, WPCOG Planner, presented the zoning land use maps to the Board and reviewed the zoning districts in each township. Most of Alexander County was proposed to be zoned RA-20 (Residential Agricultural). Some areas of Bethlehem, Wittenburg, and Taylorsville are proposed to be zoned H-C (Highway Commercial) or I (Industrial).
Ms. Turnmire stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission was ready to recommend the maps as presented and asked for any changes from the Board. The Planning & Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed maps at their meeting on June 21, 2001 at 6:00 PM in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse.
Commissioner Watts recommended no changes to the maps and inquired about the main argument from property owners at the public information meetings. Ms. Turnmire responded the main argument from property owners was that they did not want anyone telling them what they could or could not do with their property. There was also some debate regarding the construction of chicken houses.
Lloyd Jarvis, Planning & Zoning Commission, stated that most property owners were not fully informed of the zoning process. After discussion, most people had a better understanding of the zoning process and began to realize the benefit of zoning.
Ms. Turnmire stated that only 2 formal requests were received. Lynn Hill requested that the Hidden Crystal Inn and Conference Center be zoned H-C (Highway Commercial). This request was granted. Alan Harrington requested that property on Adams Pond Lane also be zoned H-C (Highway Commercial). This request was denied. There was 1 house, 1 vacant house, and 1 chicken house which did not qualify as H-C (Highway Commercial). The property was zoned RA-20 (Residential Agricultural).
Terry Foster, Planning & Zoning Commission, mentioned a comment submitted by the manager of Hickory Cove Bible Camp who stated that he didnt want the Wittenburg area to become over populated or commercialized and mentioned the Pine Tree Race Track bringing in more traffic to the area.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that bona fide farms were exempt by State statutes and could not be regulated locally. Property owners may have home occupations on their property, such as beauty shops or mechanics garages, while zoned RA-20. Although, most of these occupations are in an accessory building on the property. Commissioner Watts asked Ms. Turnmire to define bona fide farm. Ms. Turnmire stated that a bona fide farm was one that received a tax exemption from the State and was recognized by the Alexander County Tax Office as a farm.
Ms. Turnmire stated the countywide zoning would not change the permit process and would not cause any increased paperwork.
Commissioner Harbinson made the comment that countywide zoning was being enforced to protect property owners in the county, not to regulate them. Zoning would prevent the chance of a large industry being constructed next to someones family home.
At this time, Commissioner Robertson entered the meeting. This time was 6:25 PM.
Andy Baker, Planning & Zoning Commission, suggested that Commissioner Robertson, who had entered the meeting late, look over the maps before the Board made a decision.
After Commissioner Robertson reviewed the maps, Chairman Odom gave each commissioner a chance to speak regarding countywide zoning and the proposed maps. Commissioner Robertson stated that he had no problem with the proposed maps and that changes could be made later if any problems arose seeing that there would be several rezoning requests within the first year. Commissioner Robertson felt that this was a good plan and wanted to move forward with countywide zoning.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he also had no problem with the maps and felt that some property owners didnt understand zoning until they were faced with it. Commissioner Hammer felt that countywide zoning would benefit Alexander County and also conveyed his appreciation to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Planning & Development staff for the hard work that was put into this process.
Commissioner Harbinson mentioned the fact that almost all of Ellendale, Little River, Sugarloaf, Gwaltneys, Sharpes II, and Millers townships would be zoned RA-20 (Residential Agricultural). Commissioner Harbinson stated that countywide zoning would allow people to live in certain areas and have the assurance that factories or industries would not be constructed in a residential section of the county, or vice versa.
Commissioner Watts felt that the countywide zoning plan was fair and stated that he would like to continue to get information out to all property owners.
Chairman Odom stated that it was the consensus of the Board to move forward with countywide zoning and the public hearing set for June 21, 2001 at 6:00 PM at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. The Board will hold a county public hearing at the July 10, 2001 Commissioners Meeting at 7:00 PM. Chairman Odom commended the Planning & Development staff as well as the Planning & Zoning Commission and proposed that the Board of Commissioners take them out to dinner to show their appreciation.
Ms. Turnmire thanked the Board of Commissioners for their cooperation and the Planning & Zoning Commission for their hard work on this project.
The Planning & Development staff and Planning & Zoning Commission members left at this time. The time was 6:55 PM
At 7:00 PM, the Alexander County Board of Education and staff entered the meeting to discuss the Alexander County Schools budget with the Board of Commissioners.
Chairman Odom, as well as other members of the Board, conveyed their thanks and appreciation to Commissioner Watts who has served as the Board liaison to the Alexander County Board of Education and school system. Commissioner Watts noted that he had enjoyed the opportunity and looked forward to continuing his service.
ALEXANDER COUNTY SCHOOLS FY 2001-2002 BUDGET DISCUSSION
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, gave a brief summary of the list of events for the meeting and introduced Gary Lail, Board of Education member and Budget Committee Chairman, to begin discussion.
Mr. Lail began by conveying his appreciation to the Board of Commissioners for their cooperation and help, especially in the past 2 budget years. Mr. Lail noted that he understood the pressure that the County was facing due to the State budget shortfall, but conveyed that this was a very special year due to the 9th graders moving to Alexander Central High School and 6th graders moving to the middle schools (currently East and West Junior High Schools). Mr. Lail noted that the Board of Education wanted to continue with the projects already underway and continue programs already in place.
Mr. Hoke stated that significant progress had been made with projects during FY 2000-2001 including additions to ACHS, Central Park including tennis courts at the Central Office, and beginning construction of a new Ellendale Elementary School. Mr. Hoke briefly discussed the Blue Ribbon Committee recommendations several years ago that included completion of many of these projects.
Mr. Hoke explained that to maintain the current budget costs, the Board of Education had requested $546,000. This is an increase primarily due to pay and State health plan increases. Reorganization costs total $499,778 with minimal additional staffing included. Positions needed are assistant principals, a clerical position, a guidance position, 2 custodians, and 2 teachers at the middle schools. ACHS is in need of 7 teachers and 6.5 assistants for the 9th grade move. The total budget request from the Board of Education totals $1,460,618.
Mr. Hoke noted that Wittenburg and Ellendale Elementary School share assistant principals as well as Stony Point and Sugarloaf Elementary Schools.
Commissioner Hammer asked if 6th and 9th grade teachers would be moving up with students. Mr. Hoke responded that 19 of the 9th grade teachers would be moving up to ACHS. There will not be as many 6th grade teachers moving to the middle schools due to the student/teacher ratio to be maintained at the elementary schools. The Board of Education members felt that the transition to ACHS would be very smooth and effective.
Commissioner Odom asked about school resource officers. Mr. Hoke stated that both middle schools and ACHS currently have a school resource officer.
Mr. Lail noted that the State allotments were cut because they determined that Alexander County did not have as many school age children this year as earlier projected.
Commissioner Watts asked about the "low wealth" monies. Mr. Hoke responded he wasnt sure about those monies. Brent Fox, Board of Education Chairman, stated that those would probably be cut also.
Commissioner Harbinson discussed the public misconception that all students in the same grade are taught the same way and stated that each student learns differently and some at a different pace than others. Commissioner Harbinson conveyed his appreciation and support of having teachers who are committed to teaching all ranges of learning.
Mr. Hoke stated that the drop out rate had decreased to 6.2 % which is less than the State average.
Mr. Fox thanked Commissioner Watts for his communication, openness, and great attitude. Mr. Fox stated that he was aware of the State situation and the uncertainty of the coming year but asked that the Board of Commissioners take into account that it would cost extra money to make the 9th grade and 6th grade transitions easy and positive. Mr. Fox stated that the Board of Education cut the budget request twice before bringing it to the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Watts stated that Alexander County would allocate what they could to Alexander County Schools and possibly allocate more when there is some certainty from the State of what type of funding will be received, if any. Commissioner Watts noted that the State budget would probably be adopted in July or August 2001.
Commissioner Robertson briefly discussed the $125 million funding cut from education and $305,000 funding cut from Alexander County. Commissioner Robertson agreed with Commissioner Watts in regard to his comments about the State budget and the allocation of funds to the school system. Commissioner Robertson suggested that the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education plan a get together or a cookout.
Commissioner Hammer stated that the county would support the Board of Education and school system all that they could. Commissioner Hammer stated that he appreciated the hard work contributed by both boards.
Commissioner Harbinson conveyed his appreciation to both boards as well and stated that he felt education was the most important factor for continued progress in the county. Commissioner Harbinson stated that staff would continue to determine and allocate funds as they come down from the State and would continue to lobby for the inventory tax reimbursements.
Commissioner Watts stated that the county would do all that could be done to meet the Board of Educations budget request. Commissioner Watts also requested a tour of ACHS to view the additions. Mr. Hoke noted that a tour would be conducted for the Board of Education and staff, as well as the Board of Commissioners, on May 22, 2001 at 3:15 PM.
Chairman Odom commended the Board of Education and stated that he was grateful for the good working relationship between the 2 boards. Chairman Odom also discussed several items including the Soil & Water Technician position currently filled by Tonya Mitchell. This position is currently partially State funded. Ms. Mitchell visits Alexander County schools and educates students on soil and water conservation practices. Chairman Odom explained that the State would not be funding this position during the 2001-2002 budget year and requested the Board of Education consider taking over partial funding of this position.
Chairman Odom also noted that Stony Point Elementary School needed a new scoreboard. The County Garage was also discussed. Chairman Odom suggested that citizens required by the Courts to perform community service could wash the school buses at the garage along with county vehicles. Mr. Lail mentioned consolidating the county and school garages to provide maintenance for vehicles. Chairman Odom stated that this issue would be looked into at a later date.
Members of the Board of Education and staff conveyed their appreciation to members of the Board of Commissioners.
Rick Sherrill, Associate Superintendent, stated that he was very impressed with the cooperation between the 2 boards and was happy with the school system and the teachers.
There being no further business, the work session was adjourned at 8:15 PM
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board