PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, JULY 9, 2007, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on 1) a proposed application to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a Rural Operating Assistance Program Grant; and 2) a new set of flood zone maps for Catawba County issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2007, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also consider accepting a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help meet some of the costs associated with housing potential undocumented criminal aliens in local jail facilities; consider declaring certain library materials as surplus for sale by the Newton Friends of the Library to raise funds for the library; the donation of surplus vehicles for the Work and Ride Program of the Department of Social Services, and a bid for a County- owned house located at 215 South Bost Avenue in Newton, NC (but not including the land at this parcel).
A. The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed application for a fiscal year 2007-08 Rural Operating Assistance Program grant. Funds from this North Carolina Department of Transportation grant are used to provide public transportation for the residents of Catawba County. The grant includes funding for three programs: the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program (EDTAP), Work First Transitional/Employment Transportation Assistance Program and Rural General Public (RGP) Program. EDTAP provides operating assistance funds for transportation of the elderly and persons with disabilities to allow these individuals to reside for a longer period in their homes, thereby enhancing their quality of life. The Work First/Employment program is intended to provide operating assistance for transitional Work First and general public employment transportation needs. RGP funds provide operating assistance for transportation services to individuals who are not human service agency clients.
The FY 2007-2008 Rural Operating Assistance Program allocation to Catawba County totals $246,224 (an increase of approximately 13% over last year’s allocations). $125,657 would go for the EDTAP program, $23,836 for the Work First/Employment Program and $96,731 would fund the RGP Program. EDTAP and Work First funding will be provided with 100% State funds and requires no local match. RGP is funded at 90% of the fully allocated cost of each general public trip. The remaining 10% RGP match is funded through existing Catawba County sub-allocations to the Piedmont Wagon Transit System and fares. The Piedmont Wagon Transit System recommends approval of Catawba County’s FY2007-2008 Catawba County Rural Operating Assistance Program Grant application.
B. The Board will hold a unified public hearing on proposed amendments to Section 44-429 of the Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Floodplain Management Overlay, and the County’s official zoning map, to comply with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) model floodplain regulations and incorporate FEMA’s new flood maps for the County’s planning jurisdiction. Catawba County has participated in FEMA’s floodplain management program since September 3, 1980. The County’s participation and compliance with the Federal flood program allows its citizens to purchase insurance against flood losses, and allows the County to be eligible for Federal or State disaster assistance. Since 1980, portions of the County have had updated flood studies conducted by FEMA with new maps or flood elevations established. Despite these updates, the County’s maps remain outdated with new development impacting the flooding of studied and unstudied streams, in addition to inaccurate mapping of flood impact around the county’s lakes (Hickory, Lookout and Norman).
The process for updating the Catawba River basin flood maps began in early 2004 when the State met with local governments to identify flood prone areas and restudy needs. Catawba County participated in these meetings and coordinated a joint priority list of flood mapping needs for all jurisdictions within the county. From this information, the State proceeded with a technical flood mapping study. A consultant was hired by the State to obtain new aerial photography and conduct hydraulic and hydrologic studies used in the development of new flood maps for the river basin. The State then submitted the draft maps to local governments for review and comments.
At the request of the County, FEMA submitted the preliminary flood maps and flood insurance study in July 2006 in order for the County to obtain public input on the new flood maps during the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) process. Under State statutes, the County is required to notify affected property owners and allow public comment on the preliminary flood maps. Staff included notification of the preliminary flood maps with the notice for the UDO rezoning sent in late July 2006 in order to meet this statutory requirement. The preliminary flood maps were made available for viewing by the public at a series of drop in meetings in early August 2006 and at the Main County Library in Newton and the County’s Planning Department. On August 7, 2006, the Planning Board conducted its public hearing on the official zoning maps, which included the preliminary flood maps as a Floodplain Management Overlay District. The Board of Commissioners conducted an initial hearing on the flood maps at its August 21, 2006 meeting, which was continued until adoption of the UDO on February 5, 2007. The preliminary flood maps were not adopted as part of the final UDO zoning maps, due to FEMA’s statutory requirement for a public appeal and petition process before the maps could become effective.
On September 21, 2006, FEMA and County staff conducted a public meeting to educate citizens on the new preliminary flood maps and help residents locate particular properties on the maps to determine their level of flood risk. Twelve citizens attended this meeting. The County submitted comments, consisting of general map clarifications, during FEMA’s official appeal period. FEMA reviewed the comments received during the appeal period and found that no requests were submitted to change the base flood determinations as shown on the preliminary maps submitted in July 2006; therefore, the flood maps have not changed since public comment was received during the UDO public hearings last year. FEMA is now requiring the County to adopt the new flood maps along with text amendments to its floodplain management ordinance by September 5, 2007 when the new flood maps will be put into effect by FEMA.
The County’s official zoning map will be amended to delete the current floodplain management overlay district, which was based on the 1980 flood maps, and replace it with the new FEMA flood map delineation with an effective date of September 5, 2007. The new zoning map will depict this area as the Floodplain Management Overlay (FPM-O) district. Following are highlights of some of the changes to the flood maps which have addressed the County’s concerns identified during the initial meeting with the State in 2004:
• Approximately 8% of the county has been identified as a special flood hazard area. According to the State, this percentage is small compared to most counties across North Carolina.
• A more accurate representation of the county’s flood level determination is provided based on updated topography and new base aerial photography. The new FEMA maps will be more user-friendly due to a digital format which is accessible through the State’s web site. The flood maps will also be accurate over time since the State will maintain and update the maps regularly, approximately every 2-3 years.
• The flood determination on Lakes Hickory, Lookout and Norman more accurately depicts the actual flood hazards. The current flood maps had the flood level, in some cases, 30-40 feet above the lake, while the new flood study indicated a much lower flood elevation near the shoreline. The more accurate mapping will alleviate the need for many property owners to obtain a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA in order to be relieved from flood insurance, which has been a chronic situation for citizens in the county for the past fifteen years. Of approximately 597 property owners with valid LOMAs issued from FEMA, 592 LOMAs are “not incorporated” on the final Flood Insurance Rate Maps since it was determined though updated topography and aerial photography that the structures are outside of flood hazard area. These owners are not required to obtain flood insurance. The remaining five LOMAs are “superseded”, meaning the new flood information shows them to be in a flood hazard area or there was not sufficient information to make a determination. These property owners will be required to obtain flood insurance or re-file for a LOMA, with additional information, to be relieved from flood insurance.
• New flood studies were conducted on several creeks which were previously unstudied and not designated as flood hazard areas including: Balls Creek in its entirety from Little Mountain Road to its mouth at upper Lake Norman; Cline Creek North, a tributary to Lyle Creek near Rifle Range Road; unnamed tributaries to Bakers Creek near Highway 16 North; an unnamed tributary to Lyle Creek near Deal Road; Camp Creek, a tributary to Jacob Fork River; and the upper reaches of Jacob Fork River near the Burke County line.
• Creeks previously shown as a flood hazard but not having a flood level determination (classified as “unnumbered A zones”) now have been studied, with base flood elevations identified. The previous FEMA flood maps had approximately half of the County’s creeks with flood hazard areas being designated as unnumbered A zones. The new maps will help in identifying the actual flooding potential on individual properties through the use of the new flood elevation, along with a site survey for completion of an elevation certificate when new development occurs.
The Catawba County Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Floodplain Management Overlay district and official zoning map at its June 25, 2007 meeting. No one spoke during the public hearing. The Planning Board had general clarification questions and noted the revised maps will reduce the need for lakefront property owners to obtain a Letter of Map Amendment. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the amendments to the floodplain ordinance and the official zoning map to the Board of Commissioners.
REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
A. SHERIFF’S OFFICE
The Board will consider accepting a grant from the US Department of Justice’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, in the amount of $10,106 along with required certifications and assurances. This is a formula-based grant program that provides agencies with reimbursement for some of the costs associated with housing of potential undocumented criminal aliens in local jail facilities. Grant funds are based on individuals held in the Newton Detention Center, and those held for Catawba County at the Burke/Catawba District Confinement Facility, during fiscal year 2004/2005. Funds under this program may be used for correctional purposes. There are no matching County funds required for this award. This grant is usually awarded by December. However funding was delayed due to what the US Department of Justice called a “modification of the data vetting process between the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Since this award has occurred at the beginning of the County’s fiscal year, staff has determined the best application of these funds would be for medical services in the jail. Medical expenses are unpredictable during the year as they depend on the inmates’ presented medical conditions and needs fluctuate as the population changes. Staff recommends acceptance of this grant and the use of the grant to help fund jail medical expenses.
1. The Board will consider a resolution authorizing the Newton Friends of Catawba County Library to conduct a book sale and use the proceeds for library purposes. The Friends of Catawba County Library is a nonprofit association interested in books and libraries that focus public attention on library service, facilities and needs. It works to stimulate gifts of books, magazines, desirable collections, endowments and bequests; engage in fund raising to supplement the income of the library for expanded service to the public; and provide volunteer help when needed.
Library materials that have been damaged, are out of date, contain information that is no longer relevant, or are no longer being used by the public are pulled from the collection and discarded to keep the collection relevant and useful to the citizens of Catawba County. Once materials are deemed surplus, the materials are sold by the Friends of the Library at a book sale. North Carolina General Statute 160A-279 states that a county may convey property without monetary consideration, if the recipient agrees to use the property for a public use. The Board must adopt a resolution at a regular meeting and authorize an official to dispose of the property. Once the resolution has been adopted, the statute requires that the local government publish a notice summarizing the contents. The conveyance may not be concluded until at least ten days after the publication of the notice. Staff recommends approval of a resolution to declare library books and materials surplus and authorize the Friends of the Catawba County Library to use the proceeds for library purposes. If the resolution is approved, a Newton branch book sale will be held from August 9-11, 2007.
2. The Board will consider authorizing the donation of two surplus vehicles to the Work and Ride Program, as permitted under NC General Statute 160A-279. The Work and Ride program is a partnership between Social Services, Cooperative Christian Ministries and the Faith Community Task Force on Poverty. The program is designed to connect donated, roadworthy cars with low income adults who need reliable transportation to seek or maintain employment. The vehicles are checked out by a mechanic at no cost to the donor. Cooperative Christian Ministries of Hickory receives and stores the vehicles until they are awarded to a selected family. A selection committee conducts a screening process on all applications to ensure the program’s goals are met. The applicant must show financial need, prove transportation is a significant barrier in obtaining or keeping a job, have a driver’s license, a good driving record, and commit to attending a budgeting and basic car repair class. Many of the applicants are current or former Work First recipients.
The surplus vehicles recommended for donation to the Work and Ride Program are vehicles which were used by the Department of Social Services. One is a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu with 136,204 miles. The second is a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu with 119,449 miles. General Statute 160A-279 states that a county may convey surplus automobiles to a public or private entity without compensation or without the requirement that the automobiles be used for a public purpose, if the vehicles are given to Work First participants. Staff recommends adoption of the resolution declaring these vehicles as surplus.
3. The Board will consider accepting a bid of $20,000 for the sale of a residence located at 215 South Bost Avenue in Newton, N.C. This offer is for the residence only, not for the land at this parcel. The house located on this property would be moved by the new owner. On April 16, 2007, the Board authorized the sale of this house by public auction. The terms of the sale required a minimum bid of $20,000 and that the house be moved from the site within 120 days, and specified that the County will contribute up to $10,000 towards the house removal expenses. A public auction was held on June 9, 2007 and one bid was received for $20,000 from S & TC Properties, Inc., of Newton, N.C. North Carolina General Statute 160A-270 requires the Board to accept the high bid for real property sold by public auction. Staff recommends acceptance of the bid for $20,000 from S & TC Properties, Inc., for the house now located at 215 South Bost Avenue, Newton.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464