Startown Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
for August 12, 2004

The Startown Small Area Planning Committee met on Thursday, August 12, 2004 in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Catawba County Government Center in Newton, North Carolina.

Members present: Tony Wolfe, Chairman; Chip Canupp; Vice-Chairman; Glenn Pattishall, Rusty Lutz; Reba Reinhardt, Clarence Hood; Charlie Wyant; Jerry Lael; Dawn Mull, and Tom Jones

Members absent: Keith Stahley, and Kevin Saunders

Staff present: Mary George, Jacky Eubanks, Sue Ballbach, and Connie Killian from the Catawba County Planning Department; and Andrea Lytle and John Kenny, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

The meeting was called was called to order at 7:00 pm by Chairman Wolfe where he welcomed everyone.

Mr. John Kenny gave out revised minutes to the Committee. He stated that there were some minor changes that were shown underlined in the new set of minutes. These changes will enhance the minutes, not really change them. Mr. Lutz stated that he was not present at the last meeting as these minutes stated, so he needed to be added to the absent list.

Mr. Kenny said that one of the concerns of this Committee was the County's landfill, which is located within their Plan area. Mr. Barry Edwards, County Engineer and Mr. Mark Kathy, Engineer from McGill Associates, were invited to this meeting to tell them about the County's landfill and future plans concerning its expansion and growth.

Mr. Edwards informed the group that Mr. Kathy had been doing consultant work for the County since the new liner was added to the landfill. Mr. Edwards told the Committee that he would try to explain the landfill's operation and answer any questions the Committee members might have. He stated that Mr. Kathy represented one out of four engineering firms that work with the County on its landfill operation. He pointed out the original clay cell (63 acres), which did not have a liner. He informed the Committee that the old cell is continually monitored to make sure the ground and surface waters are not contaminated. He stated that any new cells opened now require a liner to be in-place for waste disposal. These new cells will not have to be monitored as much as the old cell. He gave the following facts about the landfill: - 730 acres in total site; takes in about 600 tons of trash per day; only take trash from Catawba County residents and no where else; projected to last 35 years; currently collect methane gas from bio-degradable waste which currently produces 3 megawatts of electricity which could produce enough electricity for 700 homes. This electricity is sold to Duke Power for distribution within the County's area. This gave the County revenue of $526,000 last year. He said it takes 6-7 million dollars annually to operate a landfill. He stated that gas would be realized from the landfill for the next 55 years. He said that they have entered into the 11th year at charging $30 per ton to the citizens, which means that charges have not changed in the past 11 years. When the economy is down, it shows up in the type of wastes that is brought to the landfill with there being more household wastes than industrial wastes. In reference to recyclables, the County recycles approximate 70,000 tons of waste per year, which is either first or second place in the State. Catawba County and Orange County switch first and second place every other year with the amount of their recyclables collected. There is more recycling done at collection areas than at the landfill site. He said that they are continually going out to the public and businesses to help them find ways to recycle their waste products before it gets placed into the landfill. He said that Catawba County wanted to be a good neighbor in the operation of its landfill.

Mr. Edwards said that a large buffer is required for the landfill operation, which can include the use of the soil to cover trash and other things such as parks, etc. in the future. The County wants to turn this buffer property into something for the County that could be profitable.

A question was asked about G&G Wood Products and where they were going to be located. Mr. Edwards pointed out the location on the map and explained that there was a contract between the County and G&G Wood Products for the use of their soil. They would be hiring at least 100 people within 24 months. There are several conditions that have to meet before the property is finally sold to this company. There were several grants involved with this new business. Also, the road will be upgraded to allow for the operation of this business. The NCDOT is aware of the changes needed. Water and sewer will be furnished to this new business.

Mr. Edwards stated the Board of Commissioners in 1998 approved a concept for the use of the buffer area to be used as a golf course and other types of uses such as walking trails, ballfields - whatever the citizen wants. Also, they envision a wildlife habitat being located over the closed landfill. The area over the landfill would have to wait for at least 20 years before anything could be allowed to be placed over it. He said that he would like to work with this Committee on how they would like to see the buffer developed. He remarked that the County has to maintain ownership of this buffer area for at least 30 years but that doesn't mean the couldn't let someone else run these functions for them in the buffer area. The County would supply the power to these uses. He stated that the Board of Commissioners would be approving a plan for this development sometime this year and would like this Committee to make some recommendations.

A question was asked about Wilfong Rd. He informed the Committee that this road will be paved and made into a cul-de-sac and would no longer be a through road. Their objective is to have no more trucks coming through on this road.

Mr. Mark Kathy reviewed and showed a 3-D map of the landfill. He stated that a new landfill cell had to be monitored a year before a new cell could be opened for waste disposal. He explained about the liner required for new cells. Typically 250,000 gallons a month of letchate is taken from the landfill and given to the plant in Hickory for disposal or processing. He said that letchate is not hazardous waste, but it is monitored throughout the year for its contents.

Mr. Edwards stated that the County had to monitor this site for at least 60 years after it closes. He said that they are still monitoring the closed site in Newton and will continue to do this for sometime in the future. He said that there is new technology now that allows them to find where certain items have been buried in the old landfill if needed. He said new cell records are kept as to where specific items are buried, so if there were ever a problem concerning specific items in the landfill, they would be able to locate it with no problem.

A question was asked if there was any incentives for recycling. Mr. Edwards answered that municipalities receive a reduction of their 30% tipping fees. He said that there is a staff member who is educating third and fourth graders about recycling. He reminded them that this County has been either first or second in recycling in the State for the past several years.

One of the members stated that there was a problem at the landfill concerning charging because they never seemed to charge the same thing for what you take to dispose. Mr. Edwards said that they were aware of the problem and are working on it. Mr. Edwards stated that the County operates the landfill and GDS operates the container centers and their collection policies are not consistent with the County's. GDS has until January1, 2005 for a new management system for the five convenience centers that it operates for the County

Mr. Edwards stated that the Landfill received an Economic Grant and is putting in a pump station with a new line connecting with the line that currently goes to Clark Creek Plant. Lechate and waste from the facility with be pumped to the plant instead of being hauled to the landfill daily. This should be totally finished in 24-30 months. These lines will go to the City of Newton for disposal. Newton is holding capacity for approximately 25,000 gallons per day to be processed and disposed.

A question was asked again about the acreage that might be used for a golf course. Mr. Edwards stated that they are open for this area to be something else. He said that this is a concept of which they are open to other ideas for this property.

Mr. Edwards stated that G&G Wood Products would be helping the landfill with the disposal of its wood products. He said that it would be probably 24 months before they are in full operation.

Mr. Eubanks stated that they are hoping the feasibility study will show the golf course could contribute to the cost of the operation in the future. It appears that this is a good potential revenue to help fund some of the public services that would be provided on this property.

Mr. Edwards informed the group that if they had any questions or problems concerning the landfill, they needed to let him know so that something could be done. He added that they are trying to do a better job of getting trash picked up along the roads to the landfill. He said that they have actually hired three different groups to pick up trash and they also have a full time employee and a half-time employee working on the code enforcement for solid waste.

Chairman Wolfe announced that Mr. Tippett could not be present tonight as he was out of town, so he turned the meeting over to Mr. Kenny. He stated that he would like to do a review of just where the Committee was at this point. Mr. Kenny told the Board that he had underlined changes that were made under the Guiding Principles (Map #7) that this Committee had suggested. He said that Map #7 was given to the Committee prior to the May meeting and should be in their individual notebooks. He said that they changed two guiding principles: 1) added air quality and 2) to encourage other types of transportation.

Mr. Kenny asked the Committee to review with him the Plan recommendations concerning roads and highways. He wanted to know if staff had interpreted the recommendations correctly. He asked if any one might know of any existing roads in their area that might be classified as a scenic highway.

Ms. George explained to the Committee what a scenic highway was. She said standards would be put in place along this road, such as no billboards, maintaining trees, etc. to preserve the area.

The Committee recommended Hwy. 10 West be designated as a scenic highway. The southern portion of Hickory-Lincolnton Hwy. was also mentioned as a scenic highway. Blackburn Bridge Rd. located between Startown Rd. and Lincolnton was also recommended.
Concerning roads and highways, Mr. Kenny stated that he had talked to Dan Holderman from the NC Department of Transportation and there were two bridges in this area one located over South Fork and the other a very small bridge with small sides. They are on the Transportation Improvement Plan to be replaced at the beginning of the next fiscal year. They should be finished in the next couple of years because the road will have to be re-aligned and rights-of-way purchased.

Ms. George asked if there were any dangerous intersections or curves, etc. that they might know of in their area. One of the members stated that there was a dangerous intersection at Rome Jones Rd. and Sigmon Dairy Rd. The curves along Robinson Rd. and north Sandy Ford Rd. were also mentioned. Another problem the Committee talked about was the side entrance from Startown Rd. into the new Lowes Shopping center, which has problems with the pavement and they felt this could be a major problem. Also, they stated that the new pavement at the entrance of Fairway Farms off Startown Rd. was not good and needed to be checked.

Mr. Glenn Pattishall asked about the street closing at Fairway Farms. He said that the City expressed their concern at the time this happened because it was in Newton's fire district and the closing of the street caused an additional four minutes for response by their Fire Department. Ms. George explained to those present how this came about and exactly what happened. She stated that the County had no recourse because this road had not been publicly dedicated according to General Statutes. Since this happened, the County's regulations have been changed so if this were to happen again, it must come before the Subdivision Review Board for it to address issues that this closing might cause such as the response time of the Fire Department, other emergency vehicles, etc.

Ms. George stated that the Committee needed to change the word "add" to "Explore the feasibility of" a new interchange to US 321 at Rocky Ford Rd. to alleviate landfill traffic concerns along Hickory-Lincolnton Hwy. This recommendation would also require improvements to Rocky Ford Rd. She informed the Committee that all they can do is ask the Department of Transportation to look at this road; it cannot do this themselves.

A Committee member stated that this weakens their recommendation. Ms. George iterated that we do not have the authority to tell them to do it, but to request their consideration. Mr. Kenney stated that they have to recommend the MPO to do this.

Mr. Kenny stated that there are three or four large projects that he felt that they needed to discuss. One of the projects was the proposed new Catawba Valley Blvd. extension, which the group had recommended that it not be built east of Startown Rd.

Mr. Pattishall stated that at his presentation concerning the City of Newton's future plans he explained that this new road would be vital for opening up a new industrial development area. This extension would provide east/west movement to the City of Hickory. He stated that the City is opposed to this road being removed from the Thoroughfare Plan.

Ms. George reminded the group about the map that was given to them at the last meeting that showed the re-alignment of the Catawba Valley Blvd. extension, which has not been adopted as yet. Mr. Kenny stated both County and the City of Hickory would encourage the MPO to change their endorsement to this new location on the map that they were given at their June meeting.

A Committee member stated that if this happens and they change their recommendation there would be four major east/west routes with four lanes each within three miles of each other.

Ms. George reminded the Committee about John Tippett's presentation where he stated that they should be looking at long range planning and in most cases at least 20-25 years into the future. This was the basis for these future roads being shown on the map that they had reviewed.

Mr. Pattishall stated that the Thoroughfare Plan is a regional plan that had been in existence since the 1980s. There had been public hearings, plans proposed, updates, etc. since the 1980s concerning all the major recommendations for proposed new roads in the entire region. The City of Hickory and the County had both approved this Plan. He said that other peoples needs and desires need to be taken into account that this Plan affected more than just the Startown area.

Mr. Kenny reiterated to the Committee that what Mr. Pattishall was saying is that road planning is a long-range process and this road may not come into existence for another 20-25 years.

Mr. Pattishall said that this extension is not a priority in the regional MPO for the next eight years. Mr. Pattishall stated that he felt that there needed to be some justification before this Committee recommended deleting the Catawba Valley Blvd. extension project.

Several Committee members stated that they would rather see the Settlemyre Bridge extension happen rather than the Catawba Valley Blvd. extension. They said the Settlemyre Bridge Rd. to Robsinson Rd. would give a better flow of traffic and they would like to recommend this one to be built before the Catawba Valley Blvd.

Mr. Pattishall stated that he felt that they had a skewed perception about this road because a study was done some years ago on Hwy. 70 and it stated that the Catawba Valley Blvd. would alleviate some of the traffic from this road. It would also help with the movement of the traffic and open up land for development. He further stated that this was a good place for the road to be located because infrastructure was already in-place. He mentioned that roads in the TIP priorities were based on a benefits analysis.

Ms. George reminded the Committee that they would be discussing where they wanted to see commercial and industrial developments to be located to preserve scenic values at their next meeting so they need to keep in mind their recommendations concerning future roads.

Mr. Kenny stated that he felt the Board could make any kind of recommendation that it saw fit, but he suggested that they re-phrase their recommendation concerning the Southern Corridor and say to focus on this as their top priority and basically this would be saying to put the Catawba Valley Blvd. project at a lower priority.

Mr. Eubanks stated what they could do instead of suggesting Catawba Valley Blvd. not be built would be to add the terminology, "be evaluated in relationship to the Southern Corridor" at the end of their recommendation. This might get people to re-think and re-evaluate their priorities concerning this road.

Mr. Lutz wanted to know why Hwy. 70 could not be widened or improved. Another possibility would be the extension of Fairgrove Church Road south to intersect with the Southern Corridor, which would open this area for development. He stated that he had a problem with the County creating another road because there isn't a need for another one going in the same direction. He said extending Fairgrove Church Road just made more sense than extending Catawba Valley Blvd.

Mr. Kenny called for a vote on the recommendation stating, "Recommend that future phases of Catawba Valley Blvd. not be built." The vote was 8-0 (note: Mr. Pattishall was not present at the time of the vote), so this recommendation would remain in the Plan. He also asked about the recommendation -Focus attention on the Southern Corridor as the top priority east/west road for future development. They unanimously agreed to add at the end of the sentence, "as an alternative to Catawba Valley Blvd."

After discussion, it was the consensus of the Committee to leave the following recommendation as it was submitted: "Recommend that the Southern Corridor be built with a four-lane, divided, landscaped boulevard design with sidewalks to be included."

Mr. Kenny asked the Committee about their recommendation that stated: "Evaluate the concept of extending Robinson Rd. from Startown Rd. south to Rocky Ford Rd. between the existing subdivisions." The Committee members stated that this is an error and should say Hwy. 10 - not Startown Rd. They agreed to change to read: "Evaluate the concept of extending Robinson Rd. from Hwy. 10 south to Rocky Ford between existing subdivisions." Also, the recommendation: "Eliminate the project to extend from Robinson Rd. below Rocky Ford Rd. south to West Maiden Rd. because of the loss of open space in the Hwy. 321 Corridor," would stay as submitted and written

Mr. Kenny introduced Ms. Andrea Lytle, new WPCOG Planner, who will replace Mr. Anthony Starr to help this Committee with the rest of its Plan.

Chairman Wolfe announced that the next meeting would be on September 9th beginning at 7:00 pm in the Second Floor Meeting Room at the Government Center.

The meeting adjourned at 9:23 pm.


ACTION ITEMS

  1. Discussion on scenic highways - WPCOG staff and Mary
  2. Contact NCDOT concerning paving along Startown that needs to be addressed shortly - Mary
  3. Staff to look at correct terminology to be used in recommendation concerning a new interchange to US 321 at Rocky Ford Rd. - WPCOG staff and Mary
  4. Discuss the last two recommendations as shown in WPCOG's report concerning the extension of Robinson Rd. - John and Mary