PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008, 7 P.M.
JACOBS FORK MIDDLE SCHOOL CAFETERIA
3431 PLATEAU ROAD
This meeting follows a Community Information drop-in session, focusing on the County’s developing EcoComplex at and around the Blackburn Landfill, and economic development, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at this same location. No formal program is planned between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Citizens may drop in during those hours at their convenience to speak informally with County officials and members of the Board of Commissioners. The County’s Parks Division, Southwest Branch Library, Sheriff’s Office and Register of Deeds Office will also have displays and information available for those who drop in at their convenience between 5 and 6:30, and citizens will have an opportunity to sign up for the County’s e-mail newsletter.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a request to rezone a 3.74 acre parcel, at 7780 Highway 150 East in the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning District, from R-20 Residential to HC Highway Commercial; receive an update on the County’s EcoComplex; consider an interlocal agreement that would create a Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority; and the acceptance of a $133,800 federal grant to assist the homeless and those at risk of losing their homes, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 21, 2008, in the cafeteria at Jacobs Fork Middle School at 3431 Plateau Road, beside and just beyond Fred T. Foard High School.
The Board will also consider amending the County Employment Policy Against Unlawful Workplace Harassment; new job classifications for the Emergency Services Department that would reconfigure current staff duties but would not increase the workforce; and a Local Business Plan for Mental Health Partners, the new agency that would be created by the merger of Burke County and Catawba County Mental Health Services, effective July 1, 2008. The Board will also issue a proclamation recognizing the 60th Anniversary of the Hickory Jaycees.
The Board will issue a proclamation recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Hickory Jaycees and its accomplishments and commitment to the development of our future business leaders. A Jaycees chapter was established in Hickory by 57 young men in 1948 and chartered as the Hickory Junior Chamber of Commerce. The Jaycees promote and foster the growth and development of the community’s young leaders, ages 21 to 40, and play an integral role in providing professional, real-world experience through community projects.
The Board will hold a public hearing on a request by Bobby Pope, Thomas Pope and Jane Seitz to rezone one parcel totaling 3.74 acres, located at 7780 Highway 150 East in the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning District, from R-20 Residential to HC Highway Commercial. This parcel is currently zoned R-20 Residential, with a single family home. Properties to the north, west and south are zoned PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District and include the area for a proposed Village Center. Property to the east is zoned HC and occupied with a single family dwelling. Property to the southeast is zoned PD Planned Development and occupied by a proposed retail location with multiple tenant buildings.
The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance, Section 44-418, HC Highway Commercial District states, “…this district provides areas for regional highway-oriented business, office, services and civic uses. The district regulations are designed to protect and encourage the transitional character of the districts by permitting uses and building forms that are compatible with the surrounding area”. The R-20 Residential District is generally considered a medium-density residential and agricultural district. Permitted uses in the R-20 District consist predominately of site-built homes and agricultural uses.
The property proposed for rezoning is 3.74 acres in size. Minimum lot sizes allowed in the R-20 Residential and HC Highway Commercial districts are 20,000 and 40,000 square feet, respectively. The HC Highway Commercial District being requested would permit a maximum floor area ratio of 1:3, or one square foot of building floor space per 3 square feet of land area. The allowed floor area would be 54,305 square feet based on the current lot size. The subject property is also located in a MUC-O Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay and WS-IV Watershed Critical Area. The MUC-O restricts the subdivision of land for single family residential uses, unless it is a family subdivision (only three cumulative lots would be allowed). It also prohibits specific uses, and provides for higher architectural standards and pedestrian amenities. The WS-IV Critical Area requires that the maximum built upon area for the 3.74 acres is 24% or 0.89 acres (39,099 square feet).
Public water is available and located along Highway 150 East, but public sewer is currently unavailable. The Catawba County Thoroughfare Plan designates Highway 150 as a minor arterial road. In 2006, the average daily traffic count along Highway 150 was 14,000 vehicles per day (VPD) and 10,000 VPD east and west of the parcel. According to the Thoroughfare Plan, the estimated capacity of Highway 150 is 14,200 vehicles per day. Prior to any approval for development, an approved driveway connection permit will be required from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which will also review for any additional right-of-way requirements.
The Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan, adopted on February 17, 2003, serves as the current land use plan for this area. The subject property is in an area recommended for a village center, a mixture of commercial, office, and mixed-residential uses designed with architectural features compatible with the historical character of the Terrell area. Because the request is for a commercial use district, staff considers this request to be reasonable and in conformance with the adopted land use plan. If approved, staff would work with the current or future property owners to encourage the future development of the property as part of a planned development or as part of the village center. Staff recommends approval of this request based upon the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan recognizing the parcels as being in an area proposed for commercial development (village center), the purpose of the Highway Commercial district, and the close proximity of existing HC, Planned Development, & Planned Development-Conditional District zoning.
The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on March 31, 2008. The applicant spoke in favor of the request. No one spoke in opposition. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the rezoning of the property from R-20 Residential to HC Highway Commercial, based on the staff recommendation noted above. Due to the fact that this request is for a general zoning change, no conditions were recommended for the approval for the rezoning. The property owner was advised that, upon submittal of a site plan for development of this property, additional right-of-way reservation for the future widening of Highway 150 would be required as part of the approval process. Obstructions such as buildings and parking lots would be located outside of the anticipated expanded right-of-way, to accommodate any future widening.
A. The Board will consider a revision to the Employment Policy Against Unlawful Workplace Harassment, Section 28-275 of the Catawba County Code, that deals specifically with time frames for reporting. The County has for many years supported a zero tolerance policy against any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. The areas protected include age, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex and sexual harassment. Other areas may be covered by other federal rules, specifically equal pay, pregnancy and retaliation. The State also requires a grievance procedure for appeals under the workplace harassment policy, which is separate from the County’s grievance procedure found in Section 28-170 of the County Code. The grievance procedure in the workplace harassment policy provides for an appeal process when action is taken. In addition to the section of the Code that addresses workplace harassment, the County has an administrative policy that details what is covered, the steps for filing and addressing a complaint, and a grievance procedure available to both the person filing the complaint and the alleged harasser. As an online training program for supervisors was developed, some inconsistencies in time frames in the Code and the policy were identified. The proposed revisions change the time frame for filing claims from 15 days to 10 days; address the confidentiality of the investigative files; clarify the grievance procedures; and change the written appeal deadline from 15 days to 7 days. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of the proposed revision.
B. The Board will consider the establishment of two new job classifications as a result of an Emergency Services Reorganization Study. If approved, this would be a reconfiguration of current staffing, not an expansion of the work force. Duties would be shifted among employees of the Emergency Services Department to more accurately reflect the functional demands of emergency services. There will be no reduction in service levels to citizens, fire departments or rescue squads.
The County’s Emergency Services Plan encourages the exploration of combined fire and rescue operations, but the County’s Emergency Services Department structure does not currently reflect that direction, with fire and rescue services being split between two employees. With the increasing demands being placed in the area of emergency management, it also became important that the Emergency Services Department be analyzed to guarantee that the increased demand of emergency management was being met sufficiently. The reorganization plan reflects an attempt to better align actual services that the Emergency Services Department provides with the duties of employees. The Emergency Services Director is currently handling most day-to-day emergency management tasks, which are dictated by federal, state and local requirements. As a result of September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, the day-to-day task requirements for emergency management have become very time intensive and have increased greatly. Having the Emergency Services Director oversee these tasks is becoming unreasonable, especially with some of the federal requirements for the amount of time that the individual designated as the emergency manager must spend on specific activities. When staff saw the significant changes happening in the area of fire and rescue, and increased demands in emergency management, an analysis of the structure of the Emergency Services Department was undertaken. As a result, staff recommends this reorganization to better address the Emergency Services Plan and the changing expectations of emergency services.
The County Emergency Management Project Specialist and Fire Rescue Specialist positions are currently hourly positions. Staff recommends the Fire Marshal and Rescue Coordinator positions be combined and reclassified as Fire and Rescue Manager. The two existing Fire Inspectors will keep their current classifications, but one position will primarily be focused on conducting fire inspections, fire investigations and fire education programs; reviewing fire codes and plans; and overseeing all permits for fireworks, blasting, and burning. The second Fire Inspector will focus about half his or her time on fire inspections and investigations, while the other half would be spent leading the County’s hazardous materials operations. If the merger of the duties of the Fire Marshal and Rescue Coordinator is approved, the emergency management duties will be assigned to a new Emergency Management Coordinator. These duties have traditionally been shared by multiple members of the Emergency Services Department. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of the new job classifications for the Emergency Services Department.
C. The Board will consider approval of a State required Local Business Plan for the new merged local management entity, or LME, for Mental Health Services for Burke and Catawba County, to be known as Mental Health Partners. This is a broad strategic plan for the next three years of operation, from 2008 through 2011. It is not a financial document, but follows the required State template outlining the different LME functional requirements and what actions they will take. The document creates the operational plan for the LME’s internal operations as it moves to satisfy established requirements. The Plan has been reviewed and approved by both the Mental Health Services Board of Catawba County and its Consumer Family Advisory Committee. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of the Local Business Plan for the Mental Health Partners.
A. CATAWBA VALLEY BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
The Board will consider accepting a grant in the amount of $133,800 from the US Housing and Urban Development Homeless Program. The Catawba County Continuum of Care Committee has been working over the last several years to develop programs to assist the homeless, and those at risk of losing their housing, in getting access to stable housing. The committee is made up of governmental agency representatives, non-profit organizations and religious organizations. It performs a semi-annual count to determine the number of homeless persons in the county and works in collaboration to provide services to those homeless or at risk of homelessness. The committee submitted a grant application to the HUD Shelter Plus Care program, which awards funds to assist in the payment of rent and utilities for individuals who are homeless, with an emphasis on those with mental or physical disabilities. Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare, a non-profit, was identified to oversee the grant and coordinate the application process. The $133,800 will be matched by services provided by agencies such as ALFA, Social Services and Cognitive Connections. No County funds will be required. Funds will be used to assist up to four individuals/families at a time to obtain safe and affordable housing. This is a five year grant that will be overseen by Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare. The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the acceptance of the Shelter Plus Care grant.
The Board will consider authorizing its Chair to sign an Interlocal Agreement to jointly support the new Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority (WPRTA) in concert with Alexander, Caldwell and Burke Counties and the cities of Hickory, Newton and Conover. On August 6, 2007, the Board passed a resolution to create the WPRTA. The Alexander, Burke and Caldwell County Boards of Commissioners and the City Councils of Hickory, Newton and Conover passed similar resolutions. On March 13, 2008, the WPRTA’s Board of Directors recommended an Interlocal Agreement. The intent of the Authority is to assume responsibility for the management and provision of services currently provided by Alexander County Transportation, the Burke County Transit Administration, the Caldwell County Area Transit System and the Piedmont Wagon Transit System, on or about July 1, 2008. The WPRTA is expected to improve the efficiencies of the system; add value in route scheduling, particularly regarding human services; increase the area’s ability to leverage State and Federal funds; potentially reduce costs (mostly administrative), since one system would replace four; act on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s recommendation to regionalize where feasible, and serve as a pilot project for the State.
C. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
Catawba County’s Director Of Utilities and Engineering, Barry Edwards, will give the Board an update on progress in developing the Catawba County EcoComplex in and near the Blackburn Landfill. The EcoComplex is a group of business and research entities designed to recover all useable products and by-products from the group, located in the vicinity of the Blackburn Landfill. It is a centralized location for research on all aspects of natural energy recovery and utilization, as well as research of alternative fuels and minimization of greenhouse gases for environmental, agricultural and energy use. At present, EcoComplex partners include the Landfill and a system that burns methane gas that develops naturally in landfills to produce electricity, which is then used by the other partners; Gregory Wood Products, a dimensional lumber production facility; Pallet-One, a manufacturer of wood pallets; and local farmers who are being employed in biodiesel research crop development. Pallet One uses wood by-product produced by Gregory Wood Products to produce wooden shipping pallets and is also gearing up to recycle used pallets from local industries and those disposed of at the landfill.
Other components currently in the development process include: carbon dioxide and heat recovery and re-use; a sludge management facility; a biodiesel research facility currently under consideration with Appalachian State University; a wood-fired boiler and turbine; and a turf grass management education program, possibly in cooperation with Catawba Valley Community College. Projects identified for future grants and negotiation include: greenhouse operations; brick and pottery manufacturing; compost and soil amendment processing; algae research; a facility to manage food, grease, and agricultural wastes; and combined bio-fuel research.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464