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JULY 20 2015
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, July 20, 2015, 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 Board’s Regular Meeting of June 15, 2015 and Special Meeting of June 25, 2015.
5. Recognition of Special Guests.
6. Public Comments.
8. Public Hearing:
10. Departmental Reports:
11. Other Items of Business.
13. Manager’s Report.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 828-465-8990 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.
CALENDAR: The August 2015 Board of Commissioners meetings will take place on Monday, August 3, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. in the 1924 Courthouse in Newton and on Monday, August 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center in Newton due to the Soldiers Reunion
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a request by Birdseye Renewable Energy to rezone 45 acres of an approximately 119 acre tract located at 2327 Mt. Olive Church Road from R-30 Residential to R-80-CD Conditional District specifically for a solar farm, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 20, 2015, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will also consider formally approving an Economic Development Agreement between the County and Carolina Nonwovens LLC, which intends to construct, up-fit and/or equip a new 100,000 square foot facility in Maiden, and will invest a minimum of $13 million and create 62 new jobs over three years (35 job positions will move from Lincoln County).
The Board will consider a budget ordinance and project agreement for a 2015 Urgent Repair Program Grant received by the County in the amount of $50,000 that will assist approximately eleven low-income households by providing energy efficiency improvements and minor structural repairs, and an agreement with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) for management of the grant. The Board will also consider accepting a 2015-2016 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Commerce Fellows Grant in the amount of $27,476.01, with the appropriate project budget ordinance and an administrative contract with the WPCOG in the amount of $2,500.
The Board will present a Distinguished Public Service Award to Ms. Susan Lee, who is retiring as Director of the Catawba County Parenting Network. And the Board will consider declaring the badges and service weapons of recently retired Sheriff’s Deputies Robert Pruette and Bob Riley as surplus and present those items to Deputies Pruette and Riley.
B. The Board will honor Sheriff's Deputy Bob Riley, who retired effective June 30, 2015, after over 22 years with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Under North Carolina General Statute 20-187.2, the Board will consider declaring as surplus the service weapon and badge of Deputy Riley and present those items to him.
C. The Board will honor Ms. Susan Lee, retiring Director of the Catawba County Parenting Network, for her dedicated service to the parents and children of Catawba County since 1999.
The property is located at 2327 Mt. Olive Church Road in the Balls Creek Small Area Planning District, Newton Township, zoned R-30 Residential, developed with a residence and also used for agricultural purposes. Birdseye Renewable Energy LLC is proposing to lease 45 acres located in the southern portion of the 119 acre tract to install and operate a solar facility. Parcels to the north, south and east are zoned R-30 Residential and contain single family homes, accessory structures and an operating fish lake. Several of these are vacant or used for agricultural purposes. Parcels to the west are zoned R-30 Residential and R-20 Residential, with some in the City of Newton’s planning jurisdiction.
According to the site plan submitted, the tract (comprising 45 acres of lease area) would be developed according to the development standards found in Section 44-633 of the Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) which applies to Utility-Scale Solar Applications.
The proposed use does not require wastewater or potable water services. The proposed solar facility will connect to the utility grid in the northeast portion of the property. Mt. Olive Church Road (State Road 1802) is designated as a minor arterial road in the Catawba County Thoroughfare Plan. This section of Mt. Olive Church Road is generally designed and constructed to carry between 12,000 and 15,000 vehicles per day. Traffic counts taken in 2013 along Mt. Olive Church Road, north and south of the site, measured 2,700 and 2,500 average trips per day, respectively. Development of the property will consist of temporary construction traffic and will not overburden the existing roadway or cause significant congestion issues during normal operations.
The Balls Creek Small Area Plan, adopted on June 16, 2003, serves as the current land use plan for this area. Future land use recommendations depict the property as being located in an area recommended for village/multi-family/office-institutional uses. The use and size of the land area associated with the request for a solar farm at this location is inconsistent with the uses and density recommendations of the plan. There are a considerable number of adjacent properties that are sizable tracts (5 plus acres) accommodating agricultural, residential development, and woodlands to the north, south, east and west.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 29, 2015, to consider the request. One citizen spoke in favor of solar farms and asked that the applicant consider planting White Dutch Clover as a cover crop to assist the bee population. One board member expressed concern about the viewshed of the solar farm from the Claremont Road area during the winter months and shared that it is difficult to understand the possible impacts while deciduous trees are in the growing season. Representatives with Birdseye Renewable Energy gave a project overview. No one spoke in opposition to the request.
The Planning Board voted 8-1 to submit a favorable recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to rezone 45 acres from R-30 Residential to R-80-CD Conditional District subject to the conditions listed and illustrated on the conceptual site plan and based on the reasons stated above for staff recommendation as well at the recommended requirements that existing vegetation be left in place and not removed during or after the construction process, that the applicant obtain an Erosion and Sedimentation Control Permit, and that additional trees, with an increased maturity height, be planted in the southeastern portion of the property to further shield the solar farm from adjacent properties along Claremont Road.
Carolina Nonwovens considered multiple buildings and sites in Lincoln County and a site in Blacksburg, South Carolina to place this project. The site in Maiden has a graded pad with utilities in place and due diligence has been completed. Since there were few existing building options available to Carolina Nonwovens, they chose the Maiden site because a facility can be constructed on this specific site which will meet their aggressive timeline of beginning operations by the end of 2015. Carolina Nonwovens is growing and expanding due to a diversified basis for its products in markets such as automotive and appliances. Since 2012 it has acquired contracts with automotive suppliers and appliance companies causing a need to double its square footage capacity.
National Spinning Company, parent company of Carolina Nonwovens since 2012, was founded in 1921 and is currently an employee-owned manufacturer. Carolina Nonwovens develops and produces thermo-bonded nonwovens for acoustical insulation for the automotive and appliance industries, thermal and acoustical insulation for the building industry, and foam replacements for the institutional and juvenile bedding market. National Spinning Company operates two spinning facilities, one dyeing plant, one fiber-blending facility, one distribution center, the Carolina Nonwovens facility, and offices throughout North Carolina, New York and Central America. It sells yarn products worldwide and non-woven products domestically.
The proposed incentive grant is based on a contract with obligations requiring satisfactory performance by the company and adhering to all North Carolina general statutes. The contract requires a minimum investment of $13 million and the creation of 62 new jobs at the new facility. An incentive of 50% of new tax receipts would be paid to Carolina Nonwovens annually for 5 years after submitting proof of performance. This amount would be subject to the County’s usual contractual commitments and would total a maximum of $185,438 (prior to depreciation). Based on the current tax rate, payments would equal a maximum of $35,938 in Year 1 and $37,375 in Years 2-5.
As with all incentives provided by the County, these incentives will be based on an economic development agreement which requires Carolina Nonwovens to meet minimum thresholds of investment ($13 million) and job creation (62) by 2017, which must be maintained for a minimum of three years following payment of the final incentive and the further requirement to not hire anyone 25 years of age or below without a minimum of a high school diploma. Clawbacks are included in the agreement requiring repayment should the investment and job creation amounts not be met or sustained.
PLANNING AND PARKS
The Board will be asked to approve an agreement between the WPCOG and the County for the provision of Grant Management Assistance – Urgent Repair Housing Program –August 3, 2015 – January 31, 2017, a Project budget ordinance in the amount of $50,000 for rehabilitation and administration, and the 2015 NCHFA Urgent Repair Grant Assistance Policy and Procurement/Disbursement Policy for Catawba County’s Urgent Repair Program.
COUNTY MANAGER’S OFFICE
The purpose of the Commerce Fellows program is to provide technical assistance, capacity building, and training focused on community development and on serving low and moderate income individuals to North Carolina local governments. The grant will cover course tuition, lodging, and travel expenses for five County staff and two city staff to attend in-person courses, as well as four webinar series available to other County and city employees.
The Board will consider approving a project budget ordinance in the amount of $27,476.01, and an administrative contract with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments in the amount of $2,500.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464
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