Members present: Ed Nolley(Chairman), Doug Howard, David Stewart, Cathy Weaver, Clyde Sigmon, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Glenn Hunsucker, Helen Sides, Ed Neill and Jerry Beatty.
Members absent: Mark Sigmon, Bryan Harvey and Keith Gabriel.
Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department.
Mr. Nolley called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. and the minutes from the last meeting were approved with one minor clarification regarding the ¼ mile distance from the lake to be reviewed by the Committee at its next meeting.
The group began the meeting with a discussion about school capacities and whether or not they wanted to keep this factored into their recommendation to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners. The concept of developers providing school sites was discussed. Mr. Sigmon said that he thought that there should be more than just land provided for the schools. He said that if the County does not require more, then it is like giving the developer an open invitation to donate land for schools and then they can put in as many houses that they wanted.
Mr. Neill emphasized that the village concept could work to support new school sites. Mr. Jerry Beatty said that he felt like you have to have more requirements from the developer, otherwise the local property owners that have been here for years would have to pay for services that are provided for people moving into the County.
Mrs. George reviewed the land use map with the group and went over what they had decided up to this point. She asked the group about the density around the lake area and the group decided that instead of the one-quarter of a mile off of the lake that it should be redefined to 1000 feet for the boundary of the higher density area (3/4 acre lot size requirement). Mr. Jerry Beatty made a motion to go with 1,000 feet for this high-density area and this motion was approved unanimously.
Mr. Howard asked about the schools issue and he said that if the school guidelines are left in effect, then what this group comes up with would be something that will not really be put into place for a few years because of the lack of schools. Mr. Nolley said that he thought it would be a good idea to adopt impact fees. Mr. Neill asked if this area were the only one to adopt impact fees would those fees stay in this area. Mrs. George said yes, that they are defined by a service district. She told the group that Catawba County already has the authority to impose impact fees but has not adopted a local ordinance.
Mr. Nolley asked the group if impact fees was an issue that they would like to take a vote on to make a recommendation. Mr. Jerry Beatty said that if an impact fee is adopted, then it needs to be substantial enough to provide adequate funding. Mr. Neill said that he did not think these fees should apply to the areas where the two-acre lot size minimum was still in effect.
Mr. Stewart moved that the group adopt as part of their plan that impact fees be pursued as a work plan item. The group discussed whether or not these impact fees should be applied to two-acre subdivisions. Mr. Stewart explained to the group why the Commissioners adopted the notion of an impact fee in the past, but it did not go any further. He asked if the other small area groups were discussing impact fees and Mrs. George told him that the other groups had not discussed this.
Mrs. Sides made a motion to approve a recommendation to the commissioners to adopt impact fees for the entire small area plan district. Mrs. Weaver seconded and the group voted 9-to-1 to approve this with Mr. Howard dissenting. Mr. Neill said that if impact fees are adopted, then the developers could go ahead and build if the impact fee is paid, regardless of school and infrastructure availability.
Mr. Nolley then told the group that they needed to discuss the schools issue and come to some kind of decision about this. Mrs. George told the group that they would need to explore a back-up option if impact fees are not implemented. Mrs. Weaver made a motion to keep the school (current) matrix if the impact fee does not pass. Mr. Sigmon seconded her motion. Mr. Neill said that if the group does this, then they are defeating their whole purpose for existing because the commissioners adopted the two-acre requirement just to slow growth until the small area plans were adopted. After further discussion, Mrs. Weaver withdrew her motion. Mr. Jerry Beatty asked if there could be a percentage or quota set by the group to achieve a slower growth rate. Mr. Neill said that he thought that the group was micromanaging too much. He said that he remembered that the intent of the two-acre requirement was to put a temporary hold on growth until a more conducive plan could be adopted. He said that he thought that the group might be getting caught up into too much detail.
Mr. Jerry Beatty said that he understood Mr. Neill's point, but if the group did not look at these small things, then what would be the outcome. Mr. Howard asked if the impact fees were not adopted, then couldn't the group suggest a modification to the existing guidelines. Mr. Hunsucker said that sometimes it takes a crisis in order to get some kind of action taken.
Mr. Neill made a motion that in absence of impact fees, then the school capacity requirement would be lifted for the high density areas (note: this requirement currently does not apply to lots of two acres or larger so the school capacity release would be applied district-wide). Mr. Jerry Beatty said that he would go along with this motion with one addition, and that would be for the Planning Board to have some kind of authority to control the growth when the need occurred.
Mr. Nolley said that Mr. Neill's motion was still on the table. Mr. Neill repeated his motion and Mr. Hunsucker seconded it. The group voted four-to-three to approve this motion. (Mrs. Sides abstained; Mr. Nolley did not vote and Mrs. Weaver had to leave early. For- D. Stewart, E. Neill, G. Hunsucker, & D. Howard; Against- P. Beatty, C. Sigmon, & J. Beatty)
Mr. Neill asked for clarification on the minor subdivision discussion that took place at the last meeting. Ms. George provided this clarification.
Mrs. George asked the group to make sure that the working copy of the map for the area included what the group wanted to see. She requested their recommendation on the ½ mile distance along Sherrills Ford Road for one-half acre lot sizes due to water availability. The Committee agreed that the one-half acre lots would be allowed only along Sherrills Ford Road where water is being provided (present and future) but not other roads where the waterline is extended along.
Mrs. George then discussed the Mountain Protection District with the group and showed them the USGS topographic maps for the area. Mr. Paul Beatty said that this issue came about because so many people in the area see these areas. The big issue for the group with these mountain areas was the removal of trees from on top of the mountains. They felt like the community did not mind dwellings on these mountains, but they did not want to see the trees removed from them because of the bare look that this leaves behind.
The Committee had a lengthy discussion on what the issues were, where to apply them and how to enforce it but came up with no specific recommendations. They indicated that much of the mountain was already subdivided and would be restricted from further development by topography. Mrs. George told the group that since they were struggling with this issue and could not formulate specific recommendations which would be different than their rural designation that they may decide to not establish a separate district. The committee agreed that their current recommendations, which includes larger lot sizes and open space, would be sufficient to include this area also.
Mr. Smith made the group aware of a possible rezoning request for property owned by Charles Little on Slanting Bridge Road near the Lincoln County line. Ms. Betty Nixon is wanting to possibly rezone this property from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial. The group said that they did not think that this was an unreasonable request nor did they see any issues or problems with it.
Mrs. George told the group that they would need to look at this intersection again as a possible commercial node or neighborhood center in light of the group's feelings about this rezoning request and the existing commercial property near this intersection. Mr. Smith reminded the group that this intersection was not looked at previously because at the time it was part of the area that was being considered for incorporation as the Town of Slanting Bridge. The Committee agreed to include this as an additional rural commercial node.
Housing issues will be discussed at the next meeting.
The next meeting date is scheduled for Thursday, July 19, 2001.
Mr. Nolley adjourned the meeting at 9:07 p.m.