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JULY 11, 2011
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, July 11, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC
1. Call to Order.
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting of June 20, 2011 and the Joint Meeting with the City of Conover of June 29, 2011.
5. Recognition of Special Guests.
6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda.
7. Public Hearings:
9. Departmental Reports:
12. Manager’s Report.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. Access to the 1924 Courthouse for individuals with disabilities is at the south side (“A” Street). The elevator is located at the north end of the building. Participation in public meetings is without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, color, or disability.
INFOTALK/INTERNET: The Catawba County Telephone Information System will allow you to use your touch tone telephone to obtain current information on Catawba County 24 hours a day. Information is updated on a regular basis. Dial 465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at http://www.catawbacountync.gov.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold four public hearings on 1) a proposed 321 Eco Tech Development Plan and three items related to that plan, as follows: 2) a request to rezone Catawba County EcoComplex properties from R-40 Residential to the 321-ED(I) Industrial district; 3) a request from Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc to rezone 33.66 acres from R-40 Residential and 321-ED(I) Industrial to 321 –ED(MX) Mixed-Use district; and 4) a proposed amendment to the County Code, Chapter 44-Zoning, Section 44-446.14b and 446.14e, Site Appearance, for the purpose of allowing additional flexibility in the use of metal façade treatments in the 321-ED(I) Industrial district, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 11, 2011, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will also consider a proposed economic incentive agreement with Sarstedt, Inc., for an expansion project that would create a minimum of 20 new jobs and an investment in the county of $5.6 million in new real property and $8.6 million in new personal property investments.
The Board will also consider appointing a committee to create a Work First Plan for the County for 2012-2014. Work First is a plan which replaced the former welfare system in North Carolina, beginning in 1998. The Board will receive an update summarizing the legislative actions of the North Carolina General Assembly during its 2011 long session, and will also consider a resolution which would approve the re-funding of a 1996 bond issue by Catawba Valley Medical Center through BB&T, with a seven year term and a fixed interest rate of 3.23 percent and a saving of $534,000; a change in the list of Map Review Officers designated for Catawba County and its cities and towns; and a resolution approving the appropriation of $25,182 in existing fund balance to the Oxford Fire Protection Association, to fund the expansion and renovation of an existing fire station located at 5688 Oxford School Road in Claremont.
The purpose of the 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan is to build upon the foundation of these existing plans to develop a more detailed set of implementation strategies with measurable outcomes, timelines and agreements. The planning process also allows for reexamination of policies given current economic conditions and recent developments within the plan boundary. The area has seen an increase in economic development with the construction of the Target distribution center, Apple data center, and the continued growth of the County’s EcoComplex.
The plan is divided into six different topic areas including: economic development, land use, transportation, public services and utilities, natural resources, and cultural resources. Each area highlights current conditions, principles (carried over from the Startown and Mountain View Small Area Plans), goals, and Plan Actions Strategies (an implementation component).
The following are some of the key goals highlighted in the plan: reduce the ED-O Economic Development-Overlay to match the Plan boundary; amend the zoning map to rezone the existing EcoComplex to the 321-ED(I) district and the Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc. property to the 321-ED(MX) district; relax façade treatment regulations in 321-ED(I) districts; collaborate with the North Carolina Department Of Transportation (NCDOT) on Rocky Ford Road bridge replacement, the realignment of Rocky Ford Road, and the new interchange; partner with municipalities to identify utility service boundary areas within the plan area to limit the duplication of services where possible, and create transitional areas primarily around the existing Apple, EcoComplex, and Target developments.
As with the previous plans, the 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan includes a future land use map that reflects recent development in the plan boundary and identifies areas that could accommodate future development. The future land use map is broken down into six categories: open space, residential-low density, residential-medium density, transitional, mixed use, and manufacturing/industrial. The open space areas include those properties that are currently within or could be part of a future conservation easement. Residential-low density areas are very rural in character and are proposed to remain rural, allowing single family development and limited non-residential development (churches, schools). Residential-medium density areas are located where most of the land area has access to public utilities, allowing a higher density of residential units per acre and limited non-residential development (churches, schools). Transitional areas serve several purposes to identify land that has potential for mixed use with multifamily and commercial uses, or industrial uses that are compatible with the economic goals of the plan. These transitional areas offer existing property owners maximum flexibility to either remain residential/agricultural or be rezoned for mixed or industrial uses if future opportunities present themselves. The mixed-use areas are limited to properties centered on the interchanges along US Highway 321. Mixed-use development can include higher density residential, commercial, and office-institutional uses. The industrial areas are located in proximity to US 321 interchanges. Large scale, campus style (preferred) industrial, distribution, warehousing, and high-tech development are the types of uses allowed.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 27, 2011, to consider the request. Mr. Jimmy Bolick spoke in opposition to the plan. He lives on Wilfong Road and appeared to be concerned about his property’s proximity to the landfill and its expansion, the former closing of Wilfong Road, and any future increase of industry in his area relative to the plan. Mr. Pao Lee spoke in favor of the recommendation within the plan to rezone the property on Rocky Ford Road owned by Hmong Southeast Pauvpheej, Inc. Ed Neill, Planning Board member, indicated that the encouragement of industry that feeds off the landfill by-products and resources might slow the need for the landfill to continue to expand. By a vote of 8-0, the Planning Board favorably recommended the 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan to the Board of Commissioners for consideration of adoption.
B. The Board will hold a public hearing to consider the rezoning of Catawba County EcoComplex properties, nine parcels totaling 656.58 acres, from R-40 Residential to 321-ED(I) Industrial district. The properties are located at 3771, 3889, 4017, 4029, and 4918 Rocky Ford Road in the Startown Small Area Planning District. The subject parcels are zoned R-40 Residential. Parcels to the north are zoned 321-ED(I) and one contains a single-family dwelling. 35 parcels to the south, east and west are zoned R-40 Residential, 20 of which contain single-family homes, 6 contain accessory structures, 1 is used for agricultural purposes and 8 are unoccupied.
The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Section 44-662.02, 321-ED(I) District states that the district is primarily for industrial, warehousing, and distribution with an accessory office and institutional component. The intent of the 321-ED district is to promote high-quality development through a well-planned, well-designed development process. The R-40 Residential district is considered a low-density residential and agricultural district. The properties are located within the Economic Development-Overlay (ED-O) district, which requires properties used for nonresidential purposes to be zoned either 321-ED(I) Industrial or 321-ED(MX) Mixed-Use.
Public water is available along portions of Hickory-Lincolnton Highway and Rocky Ford Road, adjacent to the site. Public sewer is available only along a portion of Rocky Ford Road, adjacent to the site. According to the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Long Range Transportation Plan, Hickory-Lincolnton Highway and Rocky Ford Road are both considered minor thoroughfares. There are no recommended changes to Hickory-Lincolnton Highway at this time. The plan does recommend the construction of an interchange at Rocky Ford Road and US 321 as well as roadway realignment and replacement of the bridge across the South Fork of the Catawba River to accommodate industrial traffic. Traffic counts taken in 2009 along Hickory-Lincolnton Highway near the site measured 2,700 vehicles per day. Traffic counts taken in 2009 on Rocky Ford Road near the intersection of Hickory-Lincolnton Highway measured 1,600 vehicles per day.
The Startown Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The property is located in an area designated for low-density residential and is in the 321 Corridor which also promotes mixed-use and industrial development. The proposed 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan recommends the area be designated as industrial and recommends amending that the zoning map include the existing EcoComplex in the 321-ED(I) district.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 27, 2011. Four people spoke in opposition to the request. Mr. Paul Gadd lives on Wilfong Road and appreciates the rural setting and aesthetics of the area. The landfill was in place when he purchased his property, but he did not expect the landfill to expand or that various industries might develop around the landfill. He understood that the outlying areas might become a park, open space or even a golf course. He is concerned that the value of his property will be changed if the landfill property is rezoned to 321-ED(I). Mr. Jimmie Bolick, who lives on Wilfong Road, is concerned about how the rezoning might affect the South Fork Catawba River tributary at the southern end of the landfill. Ms. Maureen Heavner, who lives adjoining the landfill, is concerned about additional industrial uses on the landfill property. Ms. Camille Hall, who lives on Wilfong Road, is concerned about what additional industrial property will do to her property values and understood that the landfill property would largely be open space.
After further discussion among the board and staff, and based upon citizen comments, Ed Neill, Planning Board member, made a motion to remove a 47.55 acre parcel, the southernmost portion of the landfill owned by Catawba County, from the request. Mr. Neill also pointed out that the significant amount of floodplain existing on the properties on the southern end of the landfill would limit expansion and industrial use. By a vote of 8-0, the Planning Board recommends the rezoning of eight parcels totaling 609.03 acres from R-40 Residential to 321-ED(I) Industrial to the Board of Commissioners based on a statement affirming the consistency of the rezoning request with the Startown Small Area Plan; the existing use of the property; the proximity of existing 321-ED(I) properties; the current location of the Economic Development-Overlay district; the Startown Small Area Plan depicting this area within an area suitable for industrial uses; and the 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan recommendations.
C. The Board will hold a public hearing to consider the rezoning of the Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc. property, which contains one parcel totaling 33.66 acres, from R-40 Residential and 321-ED(I) Industrial to 321-ED(MX) Mixed-Use district. The property is located at 3500 Rocky Ford Road in the Startown Small Area Planning District.
The subject parcel is zoned R-40 Residential and 321-ED(I) Industrial and is the current location where Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc. hold annual festivals. Four properties to the north, south and west are zoned 321-ED(I) and R-40 Residential. Three contain single family residences and are used for agricultural purpose, while the fourth is unoccupied and used for crop production. Two parcels to the east are zoned R-40, are vacant and used for agricultural purposes.
The Catawba County UDO, Section 44-662.02, 321-ED(I) District states that the district is primarily for industrial, warehousing, and distribution with an accessory office and institutional component. The intent of the 321-ED district is to promote high-quality development through a well-planned, well-designed development process. The R-40 Residential district is considered a low-density residential and agricultural district. Permitted uses in the R-40 district consist predominately of site-built homes and agricultural uses. The 321-ED(MX) Mixed-Use district provides for any combination of retail, commercial, office or institutional, and residential uses. Social, recreational, and cultural facilities are also a permitted use in the 321-ED(MX) district. The property is located in the Economic Development-Overlay (ED-O) district, which requires that properties used for nonresidential purposes be zoned either 321-ED(I) Industrial or 321-ED(MX) Mixed-Use.
Public water and sewer is available along a portion of Rocky Ford Road approximately one mile west of the site. According to the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Long Range Transportation Plan, Rocky Ford Road is considered a minor thoroughfare. The plan recommends the construction of an interchange at Rocky Ford Road and US Highway 321, as well as roadway realignment and replacement of the bridge across the South Fork of the Catawba River to accommodate industrial traffic.
The Startown Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The property is located in an area designated for low-density residential and 321-ED(I) and is within the 321 Corridor, which also promotes non-residential mixed-uses. The proposed 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan recommends the area be designated as industrial. The proposed 321 Eco-Tech Development Plan recommends working with the Hmong Association to establish a cultural facility at this location. It also recommends the rezoning of the property to 321-ED(MX) Mixed-Use.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 27, 2011. Ed Neill, board member, indicated that because he owns adjacent property, there could be an economic disincentive to his property on the days the Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc. hold cultural events, which are highly attended. He recommended discussions be held to determine if an off-duty law enforcement officer is necessary for such events. Mr. Pao Lee, President of the Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, Inc. indicated services of off-duty officers were utilized during the events. By a vote of 8-0, the Planning Board recommends the rezoning of the 33.66 acre tract from R-40 Residential and 321-ED(I) Industrial to 321-ED(MX) Mixed Use to the Board of Commissioners, based on the adoption of a statement affirming the consistency of the rezoning request with the Startown Small Area Plan; the existing use of the property; and the fact that the property is located within the Economic Development-Overlay district.
D. The Board will hold a public hearing to consider amending the County Code, Chapter 44-Zoning, Section 44-446.14 b. and e. Site appearance, for the purpose of allowing additional flexibility in the use of metal façade treatments in the 321-ED(I) Industrial district.
The 321 Corridor Plan, adopted in 1996, recommended well-designed, visually attractive, and aesthetic qualities for design principles of the corridor. The recommendations were formulated into a set of regulations and adopted by Catawba County, Newton, and Maiden. In 2005, the Startown Small Area Plan was presented and accepted. The plan encouraged brick or masonry fronts on buildings as well as aesthetically pleasing commercial developments. When the Unified Development Ordinance was adopted in 2007, new regulations prohibiting metal façades were created. While being partners to the 321 Corridor Plan, Newton and Maiden chose not to adopt regulations prohibiting metal façades in their 321-ED districts. Hickory, however, limits metal façades in some commercial districts along US 321 and Highway 127, but allows their use in industrial districts. The use of metal in façade treatments has continued to evolve since the UDO was adopted in 2007. A greater variety of architecturally designed panels, as opposed to the standard ribbed metal panels, are in use extensively throughout the country. Metals are considered to be a “green” material due to recycling capability, long life cycle, efficiency, and low usage of energy output during installation, and economical as a façade treatment.
The use of metal façade treatments as mentioned above are on the increase and serve as an option to wood, brick, block, stucco, cement panels, and vinyl. The concern for aesthetics in the 321 Corridor and Small Area Plans is more related to the views and vistas from US 321. Protecting the viewsheds can be accomplished by requiring a greater distance separation.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 27, 2011. Al King, board member, asked if the metal on agricultural buildings would have to be changed in a proposed buffer area. Staff indicated agricultural uses are exempt from zoning regulations and could remain in their current state. Future agricultural buildings could be constructed with metal as well. Ed Neill, board member, cited a study performed by IHS Global Insight that predicted when certain areas would return to prerecession employment levels, and that such a return was predicted for Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton beyond 2021. For this reason, Mr. Neill supported the amendment, but not a proposed1260 foot buffer. Sybil Stewart, board member, asked what type of financial hardship the buffer would cause. It was stated that the appearance of the Lincoln County Industrial Park, which does not include metal, is attractive. Mr. King was in favor of reducing the buffer. Steve Von Drehle, board member, asked about existing vegetation along US 321. Staff responded that topography in the area allowed for some natural buffering, but not in all cases. Mr. Von Drehle felt proposing the elimination of a buffer moved too far from the current regulations. Ms. Stewart asked about the distance a building would need to be before cosmetic blemishes were noticeable. After further consideration, Mr. Neill stated his motion supporting the amendment would include a reduction of the buffer from 1,260 feet to 300 feet. By a vote of 6-2, the Planning Board favorably recommends these proposed amendments to Section 44-446.14 b. and e. Site appearance, indicating a 300 foot buffer, to the Board of Commissioners.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
To meet production demand, Sarstedt proposes constructing a new 50,000 square foot distribution warehouse including a high bay automated storage and retrieval system. In a second phase, the project will include renovation of Sarstedt’s existing warehousing, adding 50,000 square feet and equipment to Sarstedt’s current production capabilities. This follows the 2006 construction of a two-story, 8,000 square foot office and research and development facility on-site that was not incentivized. The project would cause $5.6 million in new real property investment and $8.6 million in new personal property investment for the facility by the end of calendar year 2013. The investment will enable the company to stay competitive globally by introducing new machinery, transfer more production to the United States from Germany, and develop new product lines in the United States.
Sarstedt plans to create a minimum of 20 new jobs with a full benefits plan, paying wages competitive with the area labor market. At its February 7, 2011 meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a Most Favored Business incentive based on 50% of the increased tax on the real and personal property improvements for three years, with a maximum total grant of $37,985/year or $113,955 total. The ad valorem tax receipts on $14.2 million equal $227,910 over three years; so this investment will net a immediate positive payback of approximately $113,955 over three years to the County. The Board’s approval contained stipulations that the Company set as a preference or a goal that all employee hires under age 25 have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, and that all new jobs, existing jobs and investment are maintained through December 31, 2017.
In 1996, Congress ended the national welfare program known as AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and crafted legislation to allow states to implement their own welfare programs. This federal devolution of authority enabled the North Carolina General Assembly to go even further with welfare reform. The legislature took the next step; allowing counties to compete for Electing County status, in essence offering a limited number of counties the opportunity to have greater control over local welfare policies and available funding. Catawba County has pursued Electing County status from the program start in January 1998. With welfare reform, counties were encouraged to “think outside the box” and offer suggestions for innovative policy changes that would enable families to move more quickly to higher levels of personal responsibility and economic self-sufficiency. Catawba County’s Electing Plans have clearly communicated to all that the expectation in this county is that all ‘able-bodied’ persons will seek and maintain employment and support their families to the best of their ability. The Work First caseload has dropped by 83% since 1995 – the beginning of Welfare Reform.
On June 20, 2011, the Agency received notice that all counties must once again participate in the Work First biennial planning process. Current Electing Counties must notify the state by August 1, 2011, if they wish to remain Electing.
North Carolina General Statue 108A-27 requires boards of commissioners to appoint a committee of local leaders to assist in the development of the county Work First Block Grant plan. Membership of the committee must include, but is not limited to, representatives of the Board of Social Services; the Board of the area Mental Health Authority (Local Management Entity); the Board of Public Health; the local school systems; the business community; Employment Security Commission; the Board of County Commissioners; community-based organizations (that represent the population to be served); childcare service provider; Social Service staff, and transportation service provider.
PLANNING, PARKS AND DEVELOPMENT
Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc. is constructing an addition to the existing fire station located at 5688 Oxford School Road in Claremont, North Carolina. This addition will create new storage space, an exercise room, serving area and day room. Additionally, Oxford is constructing a new 40x40 foot building on the same property for additional storage and apparatus bays, and expanding the parking area. The total project cost is approximately $700,000. Financing in an amount up to $400,000 is needed for this project. Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc. will receive an interest rate of 4.33% on a 15 year loan as a result of this resolution, compared to a 5.67% rate without the resolution. This will save approximately $8,000 over the course of the loan. Approval is required under Internal Revenue Service codes in order for Oxford to obtain this more favorable interest rate.
Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc. held a required public hearing on June 21st after published notice had been completed in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service code. Oxford has reported the proceedings of the hearing to the Board of Commissioners and no public opposition to the financing was presented. Adopting a resolution to approve the requested financing is not considered a financial obligation for the County and Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc. will be able to satisfy this debt without requiring a tax increase.
Oxford requested the appropriation of $25,182 in existing fund balance to be used toward the cost of the expansion and renovation. Historically, each department has its own fund balance which is carried from year to year unless the department makes a request to appropriate it. The fund balance is created through tax revenue collections exceeding the projections established by the Budget Department prior to the fiscal year. The Fire Department may use 90% of the existing fund balance to address major projects such as buildings, building additions, truck replacement and other non-operating budget needs such as equipment items. Catawba County maintains 10% of each department’s fund balance for contingencies during the year. Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc.’s fund balance prior to this proposed appropriation is $27,980.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464
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