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AUGUST 6, 2012

AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, August 6, 2012, 9:30 a.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

3. Invocation

4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting and Closed Session of July 9, 2012

5. Recognition of special guests

6. Public Comments for items not on the agenda

7. Appointments

8. Departmental Reports:


A. Planning, Parks and Development


Authorization to Apply for a Carolina Thread Trail (CTT) Grant, Including Commitment for Match Support, to Acquire Land Around the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge Site. Presented by Assistant Planning Director Mary George.


B. Utilities and Engineering.


1. Piedmont Natural Gas Easement. Presented by Utilities and Engineering Director Barry Edwards.


2. Waiver of Permit Fees for 2012 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. Presented by Utilities and Engineering Director Barry Edwards.


C. Tax.

Tax Settlement Report. Presented by Tax Collector Ona Scruggs.


9. Other Items of Business.

10. Attorneys’ Report.

11. Manager’s Report.

12. Adjournment.

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.

CALENDAR:
The next Board of Commissioners Meeting will take place on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
AUGUST 6. 2012, 9:30 A.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider authorizing an application for a Carolina Thread Trail grant that would be used to acquire land around the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, which would both add to the existing segments of the trail in Catawba County and better protect the bridge from vandalism, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, August 6, 2012, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.


The Board will also consider a proposed easement agreement that would allow Piedmont Natural Gas to install a gas utility line in the utility easement of the Blackburn-Plateau Water Line, and consider the waiver of usually charged permit and inspection fees for the 2012 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, to be held October 6-14, 2012. The Board will also receive a report on the final settlement of taxes for fiscal year 2011-2012.


DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS


PLANNING, PARKS AND DEVELOPMENT

The Board will consider authorizing a Carolina Thread Trail (CTT) grant application to acquire 12 acres of a 21-acre tract of land owned by the Bolick heirs, located west of the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, and adopting a resolution officially acknowledging a commitment of $10,000 in required County match support.

The Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is a valuable historical community asset. Designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2001, it is the only remaining wooden bridge of its kind. The bridge joins Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Dorton Arena on this prestigious list, underscoring its statewide significance. The bridge site was named as one of the top 75 places to photograph by Our State magazine and is now prominently displayed on the North Carolina Department Of Transportation’s 2011/12 state highway map. For several years, Catawba County has been working with the Catawba County Historical Association, Natural Heritage Trust Fund, the CTT organization, and State offices and agencies to protect and preserve the bridge structure as a critical piece of local history.

Poor access to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge site has been an obstacle to promoting the site’s historical significance and limits the ability to provide security for the bridge. Through improved access, travel and tourism to the bridge and the County as a whole will likely be enhanced. County Planning staff, in partnership with the Historical Association, has explored various options and grant opportunities to achieve the goals of gaining access to, and enhancing security of, the bridge site. In December 2007, the Board adopted the Catawba County Parks Master Plan. Included in the Plan is a goal to acquire land to protect the bridge and eventually develop a County park at the site. With the countywide adoption of a Carolina Thread Trail Master Plan in December 2010, the County is now in a position to apply for funds to acquire land around the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge as part of the Lyle Creek CTT designated greenway and a trailhead access site.

The adopted CTT Plan establishes trail priorities, including a 2.6-mile segment from Claremont’s City Hall to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. Planning staff has been working with Claremont to apply for a CTT grant to construct a portion of the trail segment connecting Claremont’s City Park to the I-40 rest area. If funded through the proposed grant application, the City’s segment would connect with the segment running from the I-40 rest area south to the Bridge. With the CTT trail connecting the I-40 Rest Area to the Bridge site, 350,000 travelers passing through the rest area annually will have an opportunity to walk down the trail to visit the Bridge, and access to the Bridge for local citizens would be increased.

With State and Federal grant sources being severely cut back, the CTT grant provides one of the very few definitive grant opportunities to acquire land around the Bridge site. County staff is prepared to submit a CTT grant application, which is due by August 10. The CTT Board will review the August applications and make grant awards in mid-September.

The County’s CTT grant application would request $66,175 to acquire 12 acres of a 21-acre tract located west of Lyle Creek. This tract is a portion of 250 acres owned by the Bolick heirs. The Bolick heirs have signed a letter of intent to sell the 21 acres, and staff is working with them to execute a purchase option. The 21-acre landlocked parcel, which lies on the west side of Lyle Creek, is key to the project since it is adjacent to the Bridge site itself and is CTT grant eligible. An appraisal of the 21 acres, conducted in October 2011, placed a market value of $106,000 on the property, and closing costs (attorney and recording fees) are estimated at up to $15,000. The CTT organization will not fund the acquisition of the entire 21 acres due to its overriding goal of gaining greenway miles; therefore, their interest is only to help fund the land necessary for trails and support facilities such as trail head parking. The request of $66,175 from CTT would fund the acquisition of approximately 12 acres of land and a portion of the closing costs. This would include approximately 9 acres in floodplain along Lyle Creek to be used for the trail and 3 acres for parking and connecting access trails.

The remaining funds to acquire the balance of the 21 acres from the Bolick heirs (approximately 9 acres) could come from the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund. Discussions have been held with staff from the North Carolina Division of Cultural Resources, who are supportive of applying for $45,000 in supplemental funding through the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund to complete the necessary land acquisition. This grant application would require an updated appraisal of the 9 acre portion of the site.

As part of the CTT grant application before the Board, the County must commit local match support. Staff recommends $10,000 to help pay for closing costs, which is approximately 10% of the transaction costs. These funds are available in the County’s Park Trust Fund, and this use would meet the purpose for which the Trust Fund was established. CTT does not require a specific percentage for match funding but encourages a nominal amount to supplement the grant. The CTT organization also requires that a resolution be adopted by the Board committing to the match funds if the grant is awarded. The submittal of this grant application is recommended by the Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee.

UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
1. The Board will consider executing an access agreement allowing Piedmont Natural Gas the use of a Catawba County utility easement for the installation of a gas utility line. In September 2009, Catawba County purchased a utility easement from von Drehle Maiden, LLC as part of the Blackburn-Plateau Water Line, which is now complete and in operation. In March 2012, Piedmont Natural Gas approached the County about utilizing this same easement for the installation of a natural gas utility line. In consultation with the County Attorney, it was determined that the easement was written such that the County may assign use of the easement for installation of other types of utility lines. The easement is forty feet wide and Piedmont Natural Gas only has need for a ten foot wide section running the length of the easement. This does not interfere with the water line already in place nor does it overburden the easement. County staff has consulted with the City of Hickory to ensure that Piedmont’s design and construction does not interfere with operations and maintenance of the water line. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends executing this access agreement.

2. The Board will consider waiving the permit fees applicable, under the Catawba County Fee Schedule, Building Permit Fees section, for the 2012 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. The County received a request from Mr. Peter Fisch, Tournament Manager of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, to waive the permit fees for the 2012 tournament. The event is scheduled to be held at the Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover, October 8-14, 2012. The building permit fees have been waived for the previous Greater Hickory Classic events, now in its 10th year. The request to waive permit fees is applicable only to the section of the Catawba County Fee Schedule associated with the building permit fees. In order to protect the safety, health, and welfare of the citizens and visitors to Catawba County for this event, the approval will not negate permit issuance or inspections. The waived permit fees are estimated to be valued at less than $4,000. It has been estimated that last year’s event impacted the local economy in excess of $15 million. The event attracts more than 65,000 spectators, volunteers, and vendors, and airs over 15 hours of live and replay coverage on the Golf Channel. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends waiving these permit fees.

TAX
In accordance with North Carolina General Statutes, the Board will be asked to approve the Fiscal Report and Settlement of taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012. The report is expected to reflect that $78,096,922 (96.98%) in real estate and personal property tax has been collected as of June 30, 2012, with $2,428,183 outstanding in real estate and personal property tax.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464