Balls Creek Small Area Planning Committee Meeting 
November 5, 2001

Members present: Vance Dalton (chairman), Robert Crouch, Phillip Beard, Eddie Barringer, Nancy Smyre, Jerry McComb and Nancy Jo Teague. 

Members absent: Robbie Bennett, Stanley Stewart, Mike Rutledge, Mike Isenhour, Janice Morrow, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), and Eric Shook

Staff present: Mary George and Rich Hoffman from the Catawba County Planning Department; John Kenny, consultant from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Other present: Herbert Judon, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) representative.

Mr. Dalton: Opened the meeting.  The minutes from the October 1, 2001 were approved.

Ms. George: Introduced Mr. Judon from CATS.  Mr. Judon discussed CATS’s program for vanpools.  They are similar to car pools except that CATS leases the van to a designated driver and people are pooled together and create a ride sharing relationship.  This reduces fuel costs and impacts on the roads.  The driver of the van rides for free but has to maintain records.  The others contribute a monthly fee based upon the number of people in the pool.  The more riders, the less the average monthly costs are.  CATS assumes certain costs while others are the responsibility of the riders.  On average a vanpool rider can expect to pay between $40 and $60 per month.  The specific pick up and drop off points are left up to the riders.  Some vanpools may have the driver do a house-to-house pick up while others establish a common pick up point in the morning and evening.  CATS has a website and a newspaper which helps link up riders to pools that are accepting new commuters.  

Mr. Beard: Is a vanpool member who averages approximately ten interest calls a month for rides. 

Committee: Discussed other avenues for marketing CATS to generate interest to include; providing information on the cable access channel, the County website and the local newspapers.  

Ms. George: Also mentioned the County’s Public Information Officer as a source for getting information out to the public.  

The Committee thanked Mr. Judon for sharing information regarding CATS.

Ms. George went on to discuss land use.  The committee wanted to discuss establishing a minimum housing code for the County as one of their plan recommendations.  Ms. George handed out a report produced by County staff, which highlighted that minimum housing codes are more popular in cities than counties across North Carolina.  The Building Inspection Department estimates that between 3 and 6 inspectors would be needed to address the County’s need if pursued.  The committee recommended that the County look at a countywide minimum housing code to include rental housing and to address the number of people inhabiting a home.  

Ms. George: Distributed a hand out showing density’s in various subdivisions.  They ranged from .42 acre lots average in Brookridge to .87 acre lots in Barringer Woods.  

Committee: Began discussing density issues to include average lot sizes.  Referring to the Community Input results, ½ acre lot sizes were regarded as too small, but 2-acre lot sizes were regarded as too large.  The committee determined that 1-acre lot sizes would be adequate.  A large section of the area is already required to be 1 lot per acre per the State watershed regulations.  Additionally, a large portion of land is under agriculture exempt status where owners receive reduced taxes due to farming uses.  This emphasizes the long-time agriculture heritage of the area.  The committee agreed to recommend a high-density area where ¾ acre lots are the minimum regardless of public water.  This is the northern section of the SAP.  Outside of this boundary would be 1-acre minimum lot sizes, but if public water is extended then lots could be platted at ¾ acres.  In order to create similar density aesthetics, the committee discussed allowing the first lots off the road to be developed at the same density as the other side of the road when a road is used as the density boundary.  The lots further in from the first lot would then be developed at the allowable density in that area.  Current State watershed requirements require 1 lot per acre minimum in area south of the proposed high-density designation.                        

Ms. George: Refreshed the committee on clustering options for subdivisions.  She also asked the committee to think about areas that they may want to promote for commercial and/or industrial uses for the next meetings continued discussion of land use issues.

The next meeting is scheduled for December 3, 2001.  The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.