Draft

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

REGULAR MEETING

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

October 4, 2004

PRESENT: W. Norris Keever, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
Wesley E. Bolick
John F. Watts
ABSENT: W. Darrell Robertson
STAFF: Robert Campbell, County Attorney
Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Starnes, Clerk to the Board
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, October 4, 2004 in the Catawba Valley Community College / Alexander Center Multipurpose Room, Taylorsville, North Carolina.  A quorum was present.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Keever called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.

INVOCATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Rev. Dr. Ronald Vaughan, New Salem Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation and Alex Rhyne, student at Stony Point Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

AMENDMENT TO AGENDA

Chairman Keever made a motion to proceed with the Community Grant Awards presentation during the Special Recognitions portion of the meeting instead of being held as Agenda Item #4.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

***SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS***

The following recognitions were acknowledged:

            Salem – New Salem Presbyterian Church

Chairman Keever recognized the 170th anniversary of Salem – New Salem Presbyterian Church.  Chairman Keever stated that Salem Church at Hiddenite was organized in 1834, which later led to the formation of two daughter churches from the congregation – Taylorsville Presbyterian and New Salem Presbyterian.  In 1948, a new brick structure was erected at New Salem; however, the building was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1955.  Chairman Keever stated that less than a year later on December 16, 1956, the new building was partially ready for use and services were held in the basement until the sanctuary was completed in May 1957.  The New Salem congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary of the church in 1982.  Chairman Keever presented a Key to the County to Rev. Vaughan, on behalf of the entire Board of Commissioners, in recognition of 170 years of faithful worship and ministry.

Rev. Vaughan introduced J.M. Lackey, Judy Payne, and Martha Ellis who were present at the meeting.  Rev. Vaughan stated that these individuals were 3 of the congregation elders.

Megan McClure

Commissioner Bolick recognized Megan McClure for her numerous Champion and Grand Championship titles in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky.  He stated that Megan and her horse “Breaking News” were awarded The National Horseman All American Junior Exhibitor 5-Gaited Award in 2003 as well as the Saddle Horse Report High Point Top 10 Champion, Junior Exhibitor, 17 and under, 5-Gaited Divisions.  Megan was also recognized with these awards in the Country Pleasure Division with her other horse “Cloverleaf’s Pocketful of Miracles.”

Commissioner Bolick also mentioned that Megan had written articles and reported horse shows for Saddle and Bridle and The National Horseman magazines as well as served as Historian for the American Saddlebred Association of the Carolinas.

Commissioner Bolick presented a Key to the County to Megan McClure, on behalf of the entire Board of Commissioners, in recognition of her accomplishments during her horse riding career.

Commissioner Watts stated that he was very close to Megan’s parents, Dan and Karen McClure, as well as her grandmother.  Commissioner Watts stated that he had introduced Dan and Karen many years ago.  He noted that he was very proud of Megan and he conveyed his appreciation to her for her accomplishments.

Sarah Bowman

Commissioner Hammer recognized Sarah Bowman, who is employed with the Alexander County Information Technology Department as a Computer Support Technician II, for earning 2 distinguished degrees.  Ms. Bowman received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Phoenix on August 21, 2002.  She also received her Masters of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems Technology, also from the University of Phoenix, on July 24, 2004.

Commissioner Hammer congratulated Ms. Bowman on her accomplishment.

Community Grant Awards

Chairman Keever stated that Alexander County staff had received 12 community grant applications, representing 10 communities, and he noted that each had been accepted to be funded.  He stated that the total project materials cost for these future projects totaled $47,692 with a total grant funding match of $10,000 from the County.  Chairman Keever mentioned that 241 volunteers as well as 1,586 volunteer hours would be involved in these projects.  The following community grants were awarded:

Bethlehem Ruritan Club – Storage building (20x30) for Bethlehem Community Center.  County grant $1,000.

Drumstand Community Building – Remodel interior of building by replacing paneling and molding.  County grant $1,000.

Ellendale Ruritan Club – Purchase chairs for Ellendale Community Building and make new signs for Highway 90 East, Highway 90 West, and Highway 127 North.  County grant $1,000.

Gwaltney Ruritan Club – Replace windows and doors in Gwaltney Community Building.  County grant $550.

Gwaltney Volunteer Fire Department – Install new linoleum in conference room, office, and 2 bathrooms.   County grant $550.

Hiddenite Center – Family Film Project “Off the Wall,” working with Caldwell Arts Council.  County grant $800.

Little River Ruritan Club – Pave 2 driveway entrances and back of lot for parking for Little River Community Building.  County grant $1,000.

Vashti Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary – Complete fencing at Vashti ballpark.  County grant $1,000.

Carolina Land & Lakes – Rocky Face educational trails.   County grant $550.

Rocky Springs Community Projects, Inc. – Replace restrooms in lower level and make handicap accessible.  County grant $550.

Stony Point Recreation – Replace bleachers and fix retaining wall.  County grant $1,000.

Wittenburg Recreation Dusty Ridge Park improvements, rock dust, trees and seed.  County grant $1,000

***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***

Hayden Bentley, Alexander County Sheriff, stated that on September 21, 2004 the responsibility of the supervision of the 911 Communications Department was transferred to the Sheriff’s Department, which resulted in the combination of the 2 departments as requested by the Board.  Sheriff Bentley stated that, due to the combination, some remodeling would begin over the weekend and he noted that a new phone system would also be installed.  He also mentioned that staff was setting up a training program for employees that had been working in the 911 Communications Center so that they may have the same training as those in the Sheriff’s Department in regards to records keeping and other information.  Sheriff Bentley informed the Board that he expected both systems to be completely combined within 30 days or less.  He felt that a workable solution had been developed for combining the 2 departments that would cause very little disruption to the public.  He also stated that the courthouse would still be open after hours and that an employee would be there to greet the public at all times.  Sheriff Bentley was happy that the combination provided some additional staff for the jail, which was badly needed.

Sheriff Bentley stated that, during discussions with the Board and County Manager French regarding the combination, it was agreed that an advisory committee needed to be formed to review and discuss the combination of the 2 departments.  The advisory committee has been formed and includes Keith Millsaps, Alexander County Rescue Squad; Russell Greene, Fire Marshal; Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director; Bradley Earp, EMS Director; Dustin McAlpin, Firemen’s Association President; Tim Keever, Hiddenite Fire Department; and Chris Bowman, Sheriff’s Department.  Sheriff Bentley stated that he looked forward to supervising the newly combined system and to providing the best service to the citizens of the county.

Chairman Keever inquired about where individuals would enter the courthouse after hours.  Sheriff Bentley replied that the public would enter into the doors leading into the lobby at the Clerk of Court Office.  He explained that Sheriff’s Department Administrative staff would greet the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and that Communications staff would greet the public after hours and on weekends, while being shielded inside a glassed in area.

Chairman Keever felt that the combination would result in more efficient service and would be an excellent operation.

Commissioner Hammer stated that this project was something that he had strived to accomplish for many years.  He felt that the combination would give the citizens a quicker emergency response time and provide more safety at the courthouse.  Commissioner Hammer stated that he was very proud to finally have this project underway.

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as previously amended.  Commissioner Watts seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

PUBLIC HEARING:   REZONING CASE 04-7:  CATAWBA VALLEY PARTNERS

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented Rezoning Case 04-7 submitted by Donny Teague.  Mr. Teague requested rezoning of property located off Rink Dam Road from R-20 (Residential) to L-I (Light-Industrial).  The size of the property is 6.440 acres and the existing land use is a singlewide manufactured home and accessory buildings.  Ms. Turnmire stated that zoning within 100 feet of the property was R-20 to the north and east, R-20 and H-C (Highway-Commercial) to the south, and L-I to the west.  There is vacant property located to the north and east of the property as well as a single-family site-built home, singlewide manufactured home, non-conforming manufactured home park, and commercial property (automobile sales) to the south and furniture manufacturing to the west.

Ms. Turnmire stated that the applicant wished to rezone the property to expand the parking lot and truck turn-around area of their existing facility, Huntington House Furniture.   The proposed expansion is to accommodate existing commercial traffic.  Ms. Turnmire stated that the property was served by an 8-inch public water line and a sewer pump station.   The property also has access to an 8-inch sewer gravity main.

Ms. Turnmire explained that the L-I District was to provide for the development of areas devoted to light manufacturing, processing and assembly uses, warehousing, distribution and servicing enterprises, and limited office activities controlled by performance standards to limit the effect of such uses on uses within the district and adjacent districts.   She also stated that the Alexander County Land Development Plan showed this property as being in an “Urban Transition Area” which is “to provide for future intensive urban development on lands that are suitable and that will be provided with the necessary urban services to support intense urban development.  Areas meeting the intent of Urban Transition classification are presently being developed for urban purposes or will be developed in the next 5 to 10 years to accommodate anticipated urban growth.”

Ms. Turnmire stated that the U.S. Census recognized the Bethlehem Community as an urban area, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “a land cover/use category consisting of residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional land; construction sites; public administrative sites; railroad yards; cemeteries; airports; golf courses; sanitary landfills; sewage treatment plants; water control structures and spillways; other land used for such purposes; small parks (less than 10 acres) within urban and built-upon areas; and highways, railroads, and other transportation facilities if they are surrounded by urban areas.  Also included are tracts of less than 10 acres that do not meet the above definition but are completely surrounded by urban and built-up land.  Two size categories are recognized in the NRI:  (I) areas .25 to 10 acres, and (II) areas greater than 10 acres. [NRI-97]”

Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the Bethlehem Area contained 12 of the 14 uses defined as an urban land use and she noted that the 2 remaining uses not present were a railroad and a sewage treatment plant.  Ms. Turnmire explained that a railroad was not suitable given the geographic location and the sewage treatment plant was maintained and operated by the City of Hickory.  Therefore, by majority, the Bethlehem Area meets the federal definition of an urban area including the uses described above.

Ms. Turnmire pointed out that a sign had been posted on the subject property 2 weeks prior to the first public hearing.  Letters were also sent by first class to all property owners within 100 feet of the subject property.   Ms. Turnmire stated that public notices had been published in The Taylorsville Times and The Hickory Daily Record.

Ms. Turnmire stated that one person called the Planning & Inspections Office prior to the Planning & Zoning public hearing held on September 2, 2004 to request general information.  She also informed the Board that 11 individuals called to state their position on the rezoning request from the first public hearing held on September 2, 2004 to the second public hearing held on September 16, 2004.  Ms. Turnmire stated that 5 persons were opposed and 6 persons were in favor of the request, one of which owns property within 100 feet of the subject property.  On October 1, 2004, a letter was received from Dale Nettnin, resident of Wittenburg Springs, who was opposed to the rezoning.

Ms. Turnmire mentioned that an offer had been made by Catawba Valley Partners to sell a 45 foot wide barrier to Homestead-Shook, LLC to provide an additional buffer between the proposed rezoning and the subdivision; however, the offer was not accepted.  Ms. Turnmire stated that Dent Allison, Homestead-Shook, LLC, made an offer to purchase 4 acres of the property.  This offer was also not accepted.  Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that Mr. Allison had stated opposition to the request and had submitted a letter of opposition, which was a valid protest petition that required a favorable vote by the Board of Commissioners in order to approve the rezoning request.

Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that, after 2 public hearings, staff as well as the Planning & Zoning Commission had unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request.

Chairman Keever called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment.

Public Comment & Discussion

Edward Jennings, Attorney at Law representing Homestead-Shook, LLC, and Dent Allison, was present in favor of Wittenburg Springs and in opposition to rezoning of the adjacent tract requested by Catawba Valley Partners.  Mr. Jennings stated that Wittenburg Springs was a beautiful residential area within Alexander County, consisting of 286 residential lots which had been platted and mapped, had dedicated street restrictions, water, sewer, and natural gas since 2000 when development began.  Mr. Jennings pointed out that the history of the subject property had been rural, residential, and agricultural and he noted that Mr. Allison and his partners had invested in the property for the development of Wittenburg Springs with reliance upon zoning being consistent with the history of the tract.  He felt that a change from R-20 to L-I would result in a drastic change in zone classification as well as the character of the property. 

Mr. Jennings felt that the Board needed to consider the fact that Catawba Valley Partners did not seek to have the subject property rezoned before they purchased it 2 months ago and also that Catawba Valley Partners purchased the property knowing that it was zoned R-20.  Mr. Jennings stated that the initial rezoning application submitted by Catawba Valley Partners stated the purpose for rezoning the subject property was for a parking lot and a truck turn-around; however, Mr. Jennings informed the Board that Donny Teague stated at the September 16, 2004 public hearing that a plant expansion is an option in their future business plan.  Mr. Jennings noted that an expansion of Huntington House Furniture would place the plant up against the Wittenburg Springs development and its platted lots and would have a negative impact on the residential area that still being developed.  He pointed out that an expansion would directly affect 14 lots that were currently unsold, having a direct impact on their value by placing these lots within 200 feet of the manufacturing plant.  Mr. Jennings stated that denying the rezoning request would not restrict Huntington House from further development or expansion of their plant because they owned 433 feet of property directly behind the current plant on the north side.  Mr. Jennings distributed copies of an aerial contour of the property which showed the current facility as well as the contour of the property to the north of the plant.

Mr. Jennings stated that rezoning the subject property to L-I would allow over 100 principal and conditional uses on property that has historically been residential, wooded, and agricultural.  Mr. Jennings referenced and distributed copies of N.C.G.S. 153A-341. He also distributed transcripts of the September 16, 2004 public hearing held by the Planning & Zoning Commission drafted by Dent Allison.

Mr. Jennings presented a large subdivision plat drawing that illustrated the direct impact and back yard affect of the possible expansion of Huntington House.   Mr. Jennings felt that Huntington House and Wittenburg Springs could, in fact, co-exist.  He again pointed out that Huntington House could expand or develop a parking lot and truck turn-around in the 433 feet of property available to the north instead of on the 6.440 acres purchased 2 months ago.  Mr. Jennings stated that Mr. Allison had every right to rely on the traditional characteristic classifications of the property for his considerable expenditure in bringing Wittenburg Springs to Alexander County and he requested that the rezoning request be denied.

David Noble, Wittenburg Springs resident, stated that he and his wife lived in Hickory for 44 years at the same address until they were zoned out.  He explained property around him kept being rezoned to allow for apartment complexes such as Hickory House, Abbington, Willow Tree, Charlton Manor, Celery Stalk, and Wendemere which forced him out of his family oriented neighborhood.  Mr. Noble stated that he considered several areas for his move including Mountain View and Conover before deciding to move to the “Gem of North Carolina.”  Mr. Noble informed the Board that he had spent his life savings on a lot and house in Wittenburg Springs where he and his wife, who is ill, could spend their last years together and he noted that he didn’t want to be in a situation where he would be zoned out again.  Mr. Noble stated that he could not afford to go anywhere else because he had spent his life savings on his current location.  He mentioned that he had one other lot in Alexander County but that he was not ready to use it.  Mr. Noble also pointed out that he could stand outside and hear the humming from the machines at Huntington House.  Mr. Noble requested the Board to help the senior citizens that have come to Alexander County to live out the rest of their lives and also to help the citizens of Wittenburg Springs by denying the rezoning request. 

Jonathan Hasty, Wittenburg Springs resident, stated that he was one of the first people to move into the Wittenburg Springs development.  He told the Board that he did the same as Mr. Noble by considering other areas such as Conover and Hickory before deciding to move to the Bethlehem area.  Mr. Hasty explained that he liked the Bethlehem area because it looked as if it was an urban transition area and was changing from farmland and small manufacturing plants to a more residential community.  However, he noted that he did not move here to be backed up by a manufacturing plant.  Mr. Hasty stated that he assumed that Huntington House would do like most other manufacturing plants looking to expand and move to an industrial site or one of the many vacant manufacturing plants in the county instead of expanding from its current site.  He also pointed out that the CEO of Huntington House had actually stated at one of the public hearings that it would be less costly to physically move the plant into one of the hundreds of vacant plants that he had heard about or had seen, but that he wanted Huntington House to remain in the same location for the benefit of the community.  Mr. Hasty stated that he certainly did not see any benefit to the community in adding manufacturing space that would back up to homes and he noted that he didn’t build a $200,000 home in Alexander County to later have this happen.  Mr. Hasty stated that he planned on staying in this county for a long time.  He informed the Board that he had an 8 week old son that he wished to raise here but he stated that he would not raise him in an area with a backdrop of a manufacturing plant with 8-foot chained fences and tractor trailers going into the plant all day.  Mr. Hasty stated that he would put his house up for sale in less than 2 years if that happened.  He felt that there were many other places for Huntington House to go instead of towards the development and he respectfully requested the Board to deny the rezoning request.

Donny Teague, Owner of Huntington House, stated that the subject property had been purchased for the purpose of a parking lot and truck turn-around.  Mr. Teague explained that the original plans had not allowed a large enough area for trucks to efficiently turn around, especially in today’s industry where more 53 foot trailers were being hauled instead of the usual 48 foot trailers.   Mr. Teague informed the Board that Huntington House did not have any plans to expand immediately on their property; however, he noted that the company would possibly expand sometime in the future but that it would not be close enough to Wittenburg Springs to cause the development any harm.  Mr. Teague pointed out that there were currently lots adjoining Huntington House on the north side and he felt it was obvious that the plant location had not hurt the resale value of the property because the lots were still selling.  Mr. Teague stated that Huntington House was an economic benefit to the county, providing an annual payroll of $4 million to employees, 60% of which were Alexander County residents.  He stated that plant hours were from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM which meant that most Wittenburg Springs residents working at 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM job would not be affected by Huntington House employee traffic.

Mr. Teague stated that he and Danny Meadlock, who were partners and owners of Huntington House, were lifelong residents of Alexander County and the Bethlehem community and he noted that they both wanted to see the area prosper and do well.  He stated that they did their best to be good neighbors to everyone in the community by keeping the plant clean and keeping noise levels down and he noted that there had never been any complaints prior to those made when the rezoning application was filed.  Mr. Teague stated that he understood the concern of the surrounding property owners but he assured them that there was enough property between the plant and their property to leave a large buffer so that the plant did not intrude on them.  He also mentioned that the possible future expansion would be a cut and sew operation that would not produce any noise.

Mr. Teague stated that Huntington House was very instrumental in getting water and sewer lines put in and he noted that they were doing everything they could to improve the community.  Mr. Teague mentioned that he and Mr. Meadlock would be retiring soon and that their sons would be taking over the company making it a 3rd generation business.  He felt that Huntington House was a benefit to the community by providing jobs and he requested that the rezoning case be approved.

Mr. Hasty addressed Mr. Teague’s earlier comment that there were no immediate plans to expand and then pointed out that the Huntington House website stated “Today our team of over 150 people works together in our newly completed 100,000 square foot facility.  As our company continues to grow at over 20% a year, we are already planning our next expansion.”   Mr. Hasty pointed out that these were Mr. Teague’s words directly from the website.  Mr. Teague replied that the Huntington House was planning an expansion but he noted that there was no immediate need for the facility.  He informed Mr. Hasty that an expansion would definitely be considered if business continued increasing, however, he stated that currently the only plans was those for a parking lot and truck turn-around.

Commissioner Watts asked Mr. Teague where the current parking was located.   Mr. Teague replied that the current parking lot was located in front of the plant itself.  Commissioner Watts asked if there was currently a truck turnaround area located on the property.  Mr. Teague replied that there was a truck turn-around present on the property but he explained that the longer trailers were forcing the drivers to swing farther out to turn around which resulted in the trucks hitting the fence and causing damage.  Mr. Teague stated that the truck turn-around was adequate in 1985 when the company began.  Commissioner Watts asked how many trucks came in and out of the plant area on an average day.  Mr. Teague replied that approximately 15 to 20 delivery and transfer trucks entered and exited the property daily.

Chairman Keever inquired about the buffer between Huntington House and Wittenburg Springs.  Mr. Teague informed Chairman Keever that the property located between Huntington House and Wittenburg Springs was a wooded area and he noted that they had no plans to clear that area.  Mr. Teague explained that the area for the proposed parking lot was already cleared.  He stated that only a few trees would need to be cut down to accommodate for the parking lot.  Mr. Teague informed the Board that a 1972 mobile home that was located on the subject property had been torn down and he noted that an old structure that had been used as rental property by the previous owner had been hauled away on Saturday, October 2, 2004. 

Chairman Keever asked if Huntington House had expanded as far west as it could.  Mr. Teague replied that Huntington House could expand to the west; however, he noted that the machine room was located on the west side of the plant, leaving the most likely position for an expansion to the north or east of the property.

Commissioner Bolick asked how many lots in Wittenburg Springs had been developed.  Ms. Turnmire replied that 85 addresses had been issued as of today.  She explained that an address was issued once a building permit had been applied for, meaning either the homes were there and were being lived in or they were under construction.

By request of Chairman Keever, Ms. Turnmire presented the following information concerning the values of Huntington House and Wittenburg Springs:

Huntington House

        Built in 1985 and expanded twice

        Assessed at $1,898,100

        Including building equipment, building supplies and property taxes, Catawba Valley Partners paid $9,584.26 in 2004 taxes.

Wittenburg Springs

        As of October 4, 2004, the E911 Addressing Coordinator has issued 85 addresses.  Therefore, 85 of 286 lots or 29.7% are either occupied or under construction.

        Mr. Allison presented “Economic Benefits to Alexander County from Wittenburg Springs Subdivision” at the Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting.  In a portion of his analysis, he states the following real estate tax benefit:

“286 homes @ an average value of $175,000 = $50,050,000

Value                X         Tax Rate           =          Annual Taxes

$50,050,000                 .465/100                       $232,733”

According to 2004 property tax records, the lots within Wittenburg Springs are assessed at $11,872,800 with a current tax value of $55,208.52.

        In Fiscal Year 2003-2004, the expenditure per pupil for Alexander County School is $6,894.  (Source:  Renee Edwards, Public Affairs Director of Alexander County Schools).

Using Wittenburg Springs as an example, the annual calculation listed below assumes one child per lot in Wittenburg Springs will attend an Alexander County School.

     Expenditure per Pupil   X   Number of Lots    =    Total Expenditure Per Year

     $6,894                                 286                                   $1,971,684

Therefore, $1,738,951 for providing public education to children within Wittenburg Springs remains a County liability.

Commissioner Watts inquired about the number of feet between Huntington House and Jonathan Hasty’s property.  Mr. Allison replied that there was approximately 700 to 800 feet from Huntington House to Mr. Hasty’s property line.

Danny Meadlock, Catawba Valley Partners, felt that the crucial argument in this case was that Huntington House owned the property adjoining Wittenburg Springs and was in operation before the development was even platted out.  Mr. Meadlock stated that the main reaction that he was getting from Wittenburg Springs residents was that they wanted more jobs in the county instead of homes.   Mr. Meadlock reiterated Mr. Teague’s comments by stating that they were both lifelong residents of the county and had both served in the military.  He felt that they had a right to conduct business in the county just as Mr. Allison did.  Mr. Meadlock stated that they did not intent to harm or bother the residents in the subdivision and he noted that he personally wanted to keep a buffer between the plant and the subdivision.  Mr. Meadlock distributed several photographs for the Boards viewing, which included the wooded area on the subject property, some debris that had been cleaned up on the subject property, the loading docks at the current Huntington House plant that cannot be moved, a storage building located on the subject property 50 feet from the Wittenburg Springs property line, an old rental home that was hauled away over the weekend, a mobile home located on the subject property that will be disposed of, and the Hi-Vue Mobile Home park that is located directly across from the proposed entrance of the Phase IV of Wittenburg Springs.

Ryan Mayberry, Wittenburg Springs resident, stated that he had known Mr. Teague and his family for most of his life.  Mr. Mayberry stated that his point of view was a little different from the others because he had an interest in bringing new jobs to the area.  He felt that the Bethlehem community needed to make a decision as to whether it was going to be more industrial or more of a transition area or suburban area.   Mr. Mayberry asked Mr. Teague about his plans for the next 20 years in regards to expansion.  Mr. Teague responded that expansion would depend entirely on the furniture industry itself.  Mr. Teague did note that they did not plan on leaving the county or the current location because it was less expensive to operate in one location than in several.  Mr. Mayberry discussed the noise factor and felt that transfer trucks would cause a lot of noise along with the increasing traffic on Rink Dam Road.  He also stated that Hancock & Moore had a blower system that was so loud that an individual could not have a conversation with someone while standing outside without yelling.  Mr. Mayberry pointed out that there was no type of noise ordinance regulations for the L-I district, which was one of his concerns.  However, Mr. Mayberry noted that he was the owner of Northwest Building Company and was also interested in more jobs being brought to the area because more jobs resulted in more homes being purchased.  Mr. Mayberry stated that he was “caught between a rock and a hard place.”  He did note that his wife was against the rezoning.  Mr. Mayberry felt that it was unfair that Mr. Allison purchased a piece of property zoned in an R-20 district to later have it changed on him.  He felt that there should be some type of restrictions or ordinance that would ensure that both entities could be taken care of.

Dent Allison, Homestead-Shook, LLC, stated that he had been involved in the land development business for 25 years and was very concerned with Alexander County’s ordinances.  Mr. Allison reiterated Mr. Mayberry’s statement about there being no noise ordinance enforced for L-I zoning and he mentioned that the residents of Wittenburg Springs would have absolutely no recourse regarding noise if the subject property was rezoned L-I.  Mr. Allison also expressed his concern with the buffer requirements in Alexander County.  He explained that the buffer requirement in Alexander County was only 30 feet plus an additional 15 feet for L-I zoning, which he felt made this situation dangerous.  He informed the Board that a lot of other municipalities had a minimum buffer of 100 feet.  Mr. Allison stated that if the subject property was rezoned from R-20 to L-I, the owners could by right be allowed any of those 100 plus uses listed in the Zoning Ordinance, leaving Wittenburg Springs with very little recourse.

Chairman Keever inquired about the County’s buffer standards listed with the Zoning Ordinance.  Ms. Turnmire stated that the buffer requirements were 30 feet minimum with an additional setback of 15 feet for an industrial site.  Ms. Turnmire also mentioned that there were requirements listed for planting and she explained that the plantings must be at least 10 feet in width at the time planted and must reach a certain height by a certain time period.

Chairman Keever stated that he would have more sympathy for the Wittenburg Springs arguments if Huntington House had not existed prior to the development of the subdivision.  He stated that he was aware that Wittenburg Springs was a very nice development that he hoped would continue to be developed; however, he pointed out that Huntington House was, in fact, already in their current location when the development of Wittenburg Springs began.  Chairman Keever stated that Huntington House was providing jobs that were desperately needed due to the loss of so many furniture manufacturing plants recently.   Chairman Keever also felt that the Board should review the Zoning Ordinance in regard to setbacks and buffers.

Commissioner Hammer stated that cases like these were the hardest thing the Board had to decide because there were always good points made on both sides of every case.   He stated that he understood both parties and the concerns that each had.  Commissioner Hammer pointed out, as Chairman Keever did, that Huntington House already existed before the subdivision and he felt sure that the residents were aware of this before they ever built a house. 

There being no further public comment, Commissioner Watts made a motion to close the public hearing.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Rezoning Case 04-7.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted 4-0 in favor of the motion.

DRAFT AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, first gave an update of the September 2004 ozone monitor readings.  She informed the Board that all readings, with the exception of the last week in September, had been received.   The readings were as follows:

               Taylorsville Sewer Plant Monitor               Co. Maintenance Building Monitor

                           Minimum           Maximum                                 Minimum           Maximum

9/5 to 9/11               .019                  .060                                         .019                  .058

9/12 to 9/18             .026                  .060                                         .024                  .052

9/19 to 9/25             .045                  .074                                         .042                  .075

Ms. Turnmire stated that the ozone readings had not exceeded .085 or higher this year.  She also stated that the 4th highest reading, which was what the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) considered, was .071 and she also noted that the DAQ estimated the 3-year average at .0823.  Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that if the average remained the same through the end of the monitoring season ending October 31, 2004, the DAQ would petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move Alexander County from a non-attainment status to an attainment maintenance status.  An attainment maintenance status would be a much better category in terms of economic development in the county.

Ms. Turnmire also gave the Board notice of a public hearing to be held by the Environmental and Natural Resources, Division of Air Quality at the Hickory City Hall on October 26, 2004 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in regard to their Early Action Plan 8-hour Ozone State Implementation Plan Submittal.

At this time, Ms. Turnmire presented the draft Air Quality Action Plan, which is a part of the Early Action Compact (EAC) that Alexander County joined in December 2002.  Through the EAC, the non-attainment air quality designation will be delayed until 2007 and local governments have until that time to reduce ozone levels to the attainment standard of .085 ppm.  Ms. Turnmire stated that each local government was required to adopt an air quality action plan by December 4, 2004.  She explained that the plan included a background of the air quality initiative, possible implications of non-attainment status, environmental and health issues, as well as the purpose of the plan and activities to reduce ozone levels.

Ms. Turnmire stated that the draft copy presented tonight was simply for the Board’s information and review so that suggestions could be made for the final draft.  Ms. Turnmire also informed the Board that Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, and David Icenhour, Economic Development Director, had reviewed the plan and reported suggestions.  Ms. Turnmire mentioned that copies of the plan would be made available to the public at the County Administration Building, the Planning & Inspections Office, the Health Department, and the Economic Development Office.

Ms. Turnmire discussed the last Unifour Air Quality Committee Meeting at which Debbie Manning, DAQ Chemist, announced that the old monitor at the Taylorsville Sewer Plant would probably be removed following the next ozone monitoring season next year.

Ms. Turnmire stated that if the County did not reach the attainment standard by 2007, the County could face the reduction or suspension of federal transportation funding, restrictions on the location expansion of industries that would slow economic growth and reduce job opportunities, as well as mandatory vehicle emissions programs that would require alternative fuel cars, resulting in higher gas and vehicles prices.

Commissioner Watts asked which months were the worst for ozone levels.  Ms. Turnmire replied that July and August showed the highest levels.  

ADVANTAGE WOOD PRODUCTS ASSESSMENT POLICY RESOLUTION

David Icenhour, Economic Development Director, presented the Advantage Wood Products Assessment Policy Resolution to be included as part of a CDBG application for the installation of water and sewer lines.  Mr. Icenhour explained that the Department of Commerce required the assessment policy because the water and sewer lines to be installed would be intended to benefit low and moderate income citizens.  The assessment policy would require individuals that wish to tap onto the water or sewer lines, but are not considered low or moderate income, to pay an assessment fee to tap onto the lines.   Mr. Icenhour mentioned that low and moderate income individuals or families would not be charged a fee to tap onto the lines. 

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Advantage Wood Products Assessment Policy Resolution.  Commissioner Watts seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Mr. Icenhour also announced that the Town of Taylorsville would receive the N.C. Rural Center grant funds that were recently applied for.  Mr. Icenhour stated that part of the grant funding would be used toward the match required for the $440,000 CDBG water and sewer project for Advantage Wood Products.  He explained that the total match for the project cost totaled approximately $95,000 that would paid by Alexander County, Advantage Wood Products, Town of Taylorsville, and EnergyUnited Water Corporation; however, he noted that the grant funds would pay for all but $7,5000 of the match.  Mr. Icenhour conveyed his appreciation to the WPCOG for their collaboration with the Town of Taylorsville and the grant application.

Mr. Icenhour also discussed Amendment One Self-Financing Bonds that would be on the November ballot.  Mr. Icenhour stated that several meetings ago, the Board approved a resolution in support of Amendment One Self-Financing Bonds that would allow projects in the County to use these bonds to improve the infrastructure of the project such as water, sewer, and roads.  The bonds are paid back based on the increase in value of the property, meaning that taxes do not have to be increased to pay for the bonds.  Mr. Icenhour informed the Board that these type bonds were used in every state in the U.S. except for N.C. and Arizona.  He also noted that 250 other counties, towns, associations and chambers of commerce had endorsed the amendment.  Mr. Icenhour urged the public to learn about Amendment One Self-Financing Bonds and consider supporting the amendment.

YMCA COMMITTEE UPDATE

Rick French, County Manager, stated that on May 3, 2004, the Board appointed a YMCA Partnership Committee to discuss and determine the feasibility of a partnership with the YMCA to provide services for the Senior Center as well as the Parks & Recreation Department.  A meeting was held on July 12, 2004 at which all representatives met to discuss the partnership.

Mr. French informed the Board that after review of the partnership, the Senior Center Advisory Board did not feel it would be beneficial to begin a contractual relationship with the YMCA.  Mr. French also reported that the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board also did not wish to pursue any contractual relationship.  However, he noted that soccer games would be scheduled between the YMCA and the Parks & Recreation Department.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to terminate the process of negotiating a partnership with the YMCA.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #9

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendment #9, which included the following information:

Budget Amendment #9 – To budget for consulting services (re. cable television franchise agreement).  To budget for an increased allocation for Family Planning State funding.  To budget for Work First Transportation funds received from NC Department of Transportation.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendment #9.  Commissioner Watts seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

BOARD APPOINTMENTS & REAPPOINTMENTS

Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments:

A.      WPCOG REGION E DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Appoint Andrew Jackson to replace Tim Keever

Appoint David Icenhour to replace Keith Hertzler

B.      FUTURE FORWARD

Appoint public sector member

C.      FIREMEN’S RELIEF FUND TRUSTEE

Appoint Joseph Carson

Appoint Gary Hall

Commissioner Hammer stated that a public sector member was still needed for the Future Forward Committee and he asked that the Board provide suggestions at the next meeting.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the appointments.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

OTHER BUSINESS

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the following issues during Other Business:

A.         The October 18, 2004 Commissioners’ Meeting is scheduled to be held in the Bethlehem Elementary School Media Center.  Mr. French stated that the “new” County building located on Bolick Lane would be open from 4:00 to 6:00 PM prior to the meeting.

B.          The N.C. Volunteer Service Award Program scheduled for October 7, 2004 in Marion has been postponed.  Mr. French stated that the postponement was due to the recent destruction from Hurricane Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.  Mr. French also noted that the Governor’s Office had stated that the program would take place; however, a date has not been determined at this time.

CONSENT AGENDA

A.         Tax Release Requests for September $827.21 and Tax Refund Requests for September $431.53.

B.         Minutes from September 13, 2004 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting.

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)(1, 5, & 6) TO PREVENT DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, CONTRACTUAL, AND PERSONNEL

Chairman Keever announced that there was no need for a Closed Session at this time.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adjourn at 7:51 PM.   Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.   The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

 

                                                                                                           

W. Norris Keever, Chairman         Jamie M. Starnes, Clerk to the Board