April 7, 2003
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, April 7, 2003 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Brittni Cothren, student at Alexander Central High School, gave the invocation and Allison Bedenbaugh, student at West Alexander Middle School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Both are members of the TNC Elite Dance Troop and will be competing at the 2003 Junior Olympic Games in Michigan this July.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: ALEXANDER COUNTY 2003-2004 SECONDARY ROAD CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM
Clay Lunsford, District Engineer, presented the 2003-2004 Secondary Road Construction Program for Alexander County. Ms. Lunsford stated that the projects included in the 2003-2004 Secondary Road Construction Program had been approved and partially funded during the 2002-3003 program.
Mr. Lunsford stated that the N.C. Department of Transportation would provide an additional $335,997 to complete paving on Carl Fox Road, an additional $16,835 for widening and resurfacing on Rink Dam Road, an additional $1,311,226 to complete paving on All Healing Springs Road, and an additional $123,790 to complete paving on Old Vashti Road. Mr. Lunsford stated that the NCDOT would continue down the priority list until all funds were exhausted and he noted that the program was subject to availability of funding, right-of-way, and environmental reviews.
Funds totaling $240,311 were also put in place for spot stabilization and secondary maintenance as well as $22,329 for contingencies bringing the total allocation to $2,050,488.
Chairman Robertson called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the 2003-2004 Secondary Road Construction Program for Alexander County. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mr. Lunsford discussed additional funding to be provided in the future including Governor Easleys Moving Ahead Program that proposes to provide $700 million in additional funds for maintenance, modernization, and public transportation improvements across the State. Mr. Lunsford stated that Alexander County would be receiving an additional $600,000 for resurfacing to be utilized in subdivisions and he noted that funding would be available to widen Macedonia Church Road and Old Landfill Road. The Liledoun Road project has been approved and funded with $450,000 and there is $150,000 available for the N.C. Highway 16 project for urban distress. Mr. Lunsford stated that staff had requested turning lanes at Sugar Loaf and Ellendale Elementary Schools but he explained that the contractor for the project did not have adequate time to do the preliminary work for the turning lanes to be completed. Mr. Lunsford also noted that funds were available to purchase the right-of-way for a signal light at the intersection of Macedonia Church Road and Carrigan Road.
Commissioner Bolick felt that the straightening of Highway 127 was a tremendous need in Alexander County. Commissioner Bolick stated that many high school students traveled Highway 127 between 7:00 and 8:00 AM causing more traffic and making the road more hazardous. Chairman Robertson agreed and stated that there was a lot of traffic on Highway 127 at all times during the day. Mr. Lunsford stated that the Highway 127 project had been investigated and he noted that he was in hopes that a survey on the project would be completed very soon. John Cook, County Maintenance Engineer, stated that it could be many years before the project would begin due to the need of surveys, environmental assessments, and the purchase of right-of-way.
Commissioner Hammer asked if the NCDOT could possibly reroute a portion of Highway 127 to include Willie McLeod Road. Commissioner Hammer explained that the County was in the process of applying for a grant to install water lines in the curvy portion of Highway 127. Commissioner Hammer was concerned that the road would be straightened after the County installed that water lines and he therefore asked Mr. Lunsford to look into rerouting Highway 127 to bypass the curves and include Willie McLeod Road instead.
Frank Johnson, NCDOT Board District Representative, discussed the Moving Ahead Program in more detail and he informed the Board that the program, if approved by the General Assembly, could result in 30,000 jobs in the state over the next 2 years. Mr. Johnson discussed program goals, project selection criteria, and program outcomes.
Commissioner Hammer asked if it would be possible to get the Highway 16 South project (widening and turning lanes) back into the TIP due to the increasing traffic counts. Mr. Johnson stated that Highway 16 South could be put into the TIP as an unfunded project but he noted that the project would not meet the traffic criteria to be funded in the near future.
Chairman Robertson, as well as the entire Board, thanked the NCDOT staff for the exceptional job they do during winter weather. Chairman Robertson stated that the roads in Alexander County were always clear and in good shape during snow and ice.
MEMORANDUMS (RESOLUTIONS) OF UNDERSTANDING FOR THE UNIFOUR MPO AND RPO
Commissioner Hammer presented Memorandums of Understanding that the Transportation Advisory Committee of the Unifour Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Rural Planning Organization (RPO) approved at their last meetings. Commissioner Hammer explained that Memorandums of Understandings were required because of the expansion of the Hickory Urban Area after the 2000 Census. Commissioner Hammer also presented resolutions to be executed by each local government to support the expanded MPO and RPO planning boundaries.
Commissioner Hammer mentioned that the only town left out of the MPO map was the Town of Taylorsville which he was very displeased with. Commissioner Hammer noted that he was informed by John Tippett, WPCOG Transportation Manager, that the Town of Taylorsville was left out because it was not very populated.
Chairman Robertson pointed out that Glen Alpine was not very populated either but was included in the map.
Commissioner Odom stated that he would not vote in favor of the Memorandum of Understanding for the MPO since it did not benefit Alexander County or the Town of Taylorsville. Commissioner Odom did not feel that it was fair that the Town of Taylorsville was the only town left out among the 4 county district. Commissioner Keever agreed that the MPO would be of no benefit to Alexander County.
Commissioner Hammer noted that Alexander County did, in fact, have a vote even though the Town of Taylorsville had not been included. Commissioner Bolick agreed.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Memorandum of Understanding Resolution in support of the expanded MPO planning boundary. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted 2 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Bolick and Hammer) and 3 against the motion (Commissioners Keever, Odom, and Robertson). Motion failed.
Commissioner Hammer noted that the Memorandum of Understanding Resolution in support of the expanded RPO planning boundary did include the Town of Taylorsville. Chairman Robertson agreed that the RPO planning boundary did appear to have a more balanced representation.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Memorandum of Understanding Resolution in support of the expanded RPO planning boundary. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BELL TOWER DEDICATION UPDATE
Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, presented a schedule of events for the ribbon cutting and dedication of the Alexander County Veterans Memorial Bell Tower to be held on May 10, 2003 at 10:00 AM on the Courthouse Lawn. The schedule included the following participants:
Mr. Hines mentioned the possibility of purchasing small American flags to be distributed to citizens attending the ceremony. Mr. Hines stated that 144 flags could be purchased for $64. Mr. Hines also stated that refreshments would possibly be provided.
Chairman Robertson asked Mr. Hines why the ceremony was not going to be held on Memorial Day weekend. Mr. Hines stated that the bell was placed in the Alexander County Courthouse on May 10, 1902. Mr. Hines noted that it was his intent to have the bell tower completed and dedicated on May 10, 2002 which was 100 years later. However, the construction of the bell tower took longer than expected.
Commissioner Odom suggested that Mr. Hines also promote the Countys purchase of flag holders for veterans graves during the ceremony.
Commissioner Bolick suggested allowing the Republican and Democrat parties provide refreshments during the ceremony since there would be no County funds appropriated.
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
Commissioner Odom presented the Resolution in Support of President George W. Bush and the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces. The resolution declared the Boards unanimous support for President Bush and the U.S. Armed Forces who are undertaking Operation Iraqi Freedom for the liberation of the people of Iraq and for the preservation of the security of the United States of America.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Resolution in Support of President George W. Bush and the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Hammer conveyed his appreciation to David Icenhour, Human Resources Director, for preparing the resolution. Commissioner Hammer stated that Mr. Icenhour did an excellent job.
PROCLAMATION FOR NATIONAL COUNTY GOVERNMENT WEEK
Chairman Robertson presented the Proclamation for National County Government Week which declared April 6-12, 2003 as National County Government Week.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Proclamation for National County Government Week. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DUKE POWER RELICENSING UPDATE
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, informed the Board that the license for 13 hydrostations on the Catawba-Wateree River expired in 2008 and she noted that Duke Power would file a Notice of Intent with FERC to relicense in August 2003. The deadline for Duke Power to file the application is August 2006 and usually the licenses are granted for 30-50 years. Ms. Turnmire stated that she attended a Duke Power public meeting in Hickory on March 10, 2003.
Ms. Turnmire stated that there were 13 hydrostations involved in the project that span from North Carolina into South Carolina within 14 counties. Two hydrostations in our area are affected by the relicensing including Oxford Hydro on the Lake Hickory Reservoir and Lookout Shoals Hydro on the Lookout Shoals Lake Reservoir. Ms. Turnmire stated that all public comments and or study requests were due to Duke Power by May 31, 2003.
Ms. Turnmire stated that Duke Power planned to form a Stakeholder Committee to provide direction in regards to the study requests and the application provisions. It is anticipated that the facilitators of the Catawba River Basin Stakeholder Committee will also facilitate this stakeholder group.
Ms. Turnmire stated that the only relicensing project completed to date was the Nantahala/Tuckaseegee Hydro Project. In preliminary discussions, the facilitators are equating this hydro project to the Nantahala/Tuckaseegee project just as the Neuse River Basin was placed upon the Catawba River Basin. Ms. Turnmire stated that the broad issues would be similar but the local issues as related to geography and the environment are completely different from the Nantahala/Tuckaseegee project.
Ms. Turnmire stated that there were several issues to consider in the relicensing project that may affect Alexander County including streamflow, shoreline protection, maintenance of lake levels, protection of fish habitat and wildlife, restoration of shoreline areas, the continuance of existing recreational areas, and the establishment of new recreational areas. Ms. Turnmire stated that one important factor for Alexander County would be the lease for the Dusty Ridge Access Area. FERC will review recreational access areas and determine their need to remain or be expanded as a part of the relicensing process. The relicensing process may allow Alexander County an opportunity to request more recreational areas along the shoreline. Ms. Turnmire also noted that another factor of high importance to other Unifour counties was that the requirements within the existing and new license did not apply to other Duke Power subsidiaries including Crescent Resources who owns a considerable amount of lakefront property in the Unifour area.
Chairman Robertson was interested to know how Duke Power planned to address the removal of sedimentation in area lakes at the present time and during the next licensing period.
Buffer Rules Discussion
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the temporary Catawba River Buffer Rules would expire September 1, 2003. The State anticipates adoption of permanent rules and will be holding public hearings in regard to these rules. Ms. Turnmire stated that she had received a notice which stated that the State would adopt the temporary rules as the permanent rules with some minor changes.
Ms. Turnmire stated that one of the changes would address subdivisions. In the temporary rules, all subdivisions already in place and recorded at the Register of Deeds are grandfathered. Ms. Turnmire explained that the proposed permanent rules would require any unimproved lot in any subdivision to apply to the buffer rules. Ms. Turnmire noted that the buffer rules would restrict any structure, including accessory structures, from being any closer than 50 feet from the lakefront line. Ms. Turnmire stated that this change would affect 10 major subdivisions and 5 or 6 along the Catawba River in Alexander County.
Chairman Robertson stated that, when the temporary rules were enacted, the State had simply applied the Neuse River regulations to the Catawba River. It was pointed out by many that the topography, soil types, and people on the Catawba River were completely different from those of the Neuse River. Chairman Robertson also stated that, according to the States own data, a 35 foot buffer would have been sufficient for the Catawba River Basin and he noted that the biggest problem with the Catawba River Basin was nutrients going into the water.
Commissioner Odom felt that the citizens would not realize the potential impact of these rules just by reading about them in the newspaper or hearing about them on the radio. Commissioner Odom stated that these rules would not only affect lakefront property owners but also those who wanted to build a development and subdivisions and he noted that the rules would reduce citizens ability to develop property. Commissioner Odom stated that he wanted the citizens to be aware that these rules would be potentially detrimental and would affect many generations to come. Commissioner Odom also felt that Environmental Management Commission needed to put a hold on adopting the permanent rules until a study was completed by individuals with enough common sense to realize that the Catawba River was nothing like the Neuse River.
Chairman Robertson stated that the buffer rules would eventually regulate tributaries leading into the Catawba River which would affect farmland with any type of stream running through. Chairman Robertson stated that 50 feet on either side of a stream would be a protected area which could be detrimental to farmers.
Rick French, County Manager, stated that the only action that could probably be taken to possibly stop these rules would be to take legal action.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the Environmental Management Commission would be holding a public meeting on Monday, April 14, 2003 at 7:00 PM in the CVCC Auditorium in Hickory. Commissioner Hammer felt that the entire Board should attend the meeting if possible.
Chairman Robertson asked Ms. Turnmire to put together a list of the committees involved in the buffer rules and who they reported to. Chairman Robertson suggested that Ms. Turnmire be placed on the agenda for the May 5, 2003 Commissioners Meeting for an update.
APPOINTMENTS AND REAPPOINTMENTS
Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments and reappointments:
Appoint Trooper Greg Jones (replacement for Brian Sharpe, term expires 2004)
Appoint Deborah Ball (replacement for Ronette Starnes, term expires 2005)
Appoint Susan Brown (replacement for Angela Johnson, term expires 2005)
Appoint Angela Johnson 3-year term
Reappoint Catherine Burgess 3-year term
Reappoint Janette Johnson 3-year term
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the appointments and reappointments as presented. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS #35 - #42
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendments #35 - #45 which included the following information:
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve Budget Ordinance Amendments #35 - #42. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
COMMISSIONERS MEETING SCHEDULE FOR JULY 2003
Rick French, County Manager, requested that the Board change the July Meeting Schedule and he suggested holding one meeting on July 14, 2003 instead of holding meetings on July 7, 2003 and July 21, 2003. Mr. French stated that this schedule would avoid the July 4th holiday and also allow for him and his son, Parker to travel to New York to watch the Yankees play.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to change the July Meeting Schedule as requested. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Rick French, County Manger, discussed the following issues during Other Business:
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the resolution to apply for FEMA funds with a local match of in-kind services. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6) CONTRATUAL & PERSONNEL
Commissioner Keever made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:44 PM to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6). Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Odom made a motion to adjourn at 8:20 PM. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board