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AUGUST 15, 2011
AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, August 15, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
2nd Floor Meeting Room, Government Center
100A South West Boulevard, Newton, NC

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN LOCATION DUE TO THE SOLDIERS’ REUNION

1. Call to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

3. Invocation

4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting of August 1, 2011

5. Recognition of Special Guests

6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda

7. Public Hearings:


a. Rezoning request by Billy Little to rezone one parcel and a portion of an adjacent parcel totaling .95 acre from RC Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential to HC Highway Commercial. Presented by Planner Chris Timberlake.


b. 16 South Corridor Development Plan. Presented by Planning, Parks and Development Director Jacky Eubanks.


c. Continued Public Hearing from July 11, 2011 Board of Commissioners Meeting on Proposed Amendment to Section 44-446.14b and e. of the County Code – Site Appearance. Presented by Planner Chris Timberlake.

8. Appointments

9. Departmental Report:


Economic Development Corporation


Expansion Project for Dalco Nonwovens. Presented by Nathan Huret, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation.

10. Other Items of Business

11. Attorneys’ Report

12. Manager’s Report

13. 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
There will only be one Board of Commissioners Meeting in September due to County management staff’s attendance at the International County Managers Association’s Annual Conference scheduled for September 18-21, 2011. The September Board of Commissioners meeting will take place on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.

 


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2011, 7 P.M.
SECOND FLOOR MEETING ROOM
GOVERNMENT CENTER, NEWTON, NC

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on 1) a proposed Highway 16 South Corridor Plan that would build on existing plans for that area and consider past and present developments and future needs pertaining to economic development, land use, transportation, public services/community facilities, and natural and cultural resources; and 2) a request to rezone one parcel and a portion of an adjacent parcel totaling 0.95 acres, located at 6576 and 6520 Highway 16 North from RC-Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential to HC-Highway Commercial, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15, 2011, in the Second Floor Meeting Room of the Catawba County Government Center at 100-A Southwest Boulevard (Highway 321 Business) in Newton. The Board will also continue a public hearing from its July 11, 2011 meeting on a proposed amendment to the County Code for the purpose of allowing additional flexibility in the use of metal façade treatments in the 321-ED(I) Industrial district. Please note the change from the Board’s regular meeting location, due to Soldiers Reunion events in downtown Newton on the evening of August 15.

The Board will also consider finalizing a proposed economic incentive agreement with Dalco Nonwovens, approved by the Board on June 6, 2011. Dalco plans a $9 million expansion at its existing manufacturing facility in Conover, which would protect 33 existing jobs and create 19 new jobs.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
A. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request to rezone one parcel and a portion of an adjacent parcel totaling 0.95 acres from RC Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential to HC Highway Commercial. The properties are located at 6520 and 6576 Highway 16 North in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District. The subject parcel is zoned RC Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential and was previously occupied by a farm supply retail store. The site is currently occupied by a golf cart sales business that is not permitted in the RC district. Two parcels to the north are zoned RC Rural Commercial and occupied by a convenience store with gas pumps and a restaurant. One parcel to the south is zoned RC Rural Commercial and occupied by a retail store. Eight other parcels to the south are zoned R-40 and R-20. Seven are occupied by single family dwellings and one is vacant. Two parcels to the west are zoned HC Highway Commercial, with one occupied by a retail store and the other occupied by two single-family residences.

The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Section 44-417states that the RC Rural Commercial District is primarily for offices, service, and retail uses designed in scale with surrounding residential uses, such as antique stores, auto supplies, office supplies and convenience stores, bookkeeping and medical offices. The R-40 Residential district is considered a low-density residential and agricultural district.

The Catawba County UDO, Section 44-418 states that the HC Highway Commercial District is for regional-highway oriented business, office, service, and civic uses, with examples including amusement and arcade businesses, retail auto, truck, boat, motorcycle and RV sales, billiard or pool halls, and small motor repair.

This property is located in a WS-IV Protected Area Watershed, which regulates the percentage of imperviousness (structures and pavement) on the property. Public water exists at the intersection of St. Peter’s Church Road and Highway 16. According to the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Long Range Plan, Highway 16 North is considered a major thoroughfare. No recommendations or improvements are proposed for this portion of Highway 16 in the long range plan. Traffic counts taken in 2009 on Highway 16, just north of its intersection with St. Peter’s Church Road, measured 13,000 vehicles per day.

The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The property is located in an area designated for rural commercial uses. The recommendations are that the rural commercial areas be comprised of approximately ten acres with a maximum gross leasable area of 15,000 square feet.

Staff did not recommend the rezoning of the 0.95 acres from RC Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential to HC Highway Commercial due to the request being inconsistent with the adopted Small Area Plan, the adjacent Rural Commercial zoning, and the fact that the R-40 Residential district abuts the properties.

The Planning Board held a public hearing on July 25, 2011. Mr. Billy Little, the property owner, and Mr. Keith Bowman, the applicant, spoke in favor of the request. The Planning Board noted the existing adjacent uses (a convenience store/gas station and Dollar General, a retail store) and Highway Commercial properties across the street. Staff indicated the request probably would have been recommended for approval prior to adoption of the Small Area Plans. Mr. Rusty Lutz, board member, asked if staff could look at this node for future consideration as a Highway Commercial node. Mr. Ed Neill, board member, said it should be looked at based on its location. By a vote of 6-0, the Planning Board agreed that the request is inconsistent with the adopted Small Area Plan, but felt it reasonable to recommend the rezoning of the parcels from RC Rural Commercial and R-40 Residential to HC Highway Commercial to the Board of Commissioners, based on the pattern of surrounding zoning districts being in harmony with the proposed zoning district and surrounding land uses.

B. The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed Highway 16 South Corridor Development Plan. Over the past 15 years, Catawba County has adopted long-range planning initiatives for the purpose of providing a framework for coordinated growth and development. These plans included a county-wide comprehensive plan, referred to as VisionQuest 2010 (adopted in 1996) and smaller focused plans referred to as Small Area Plans. The two Small Area Plans associated with the NC 16 South corridor are Sherrills Ford (February 2003) and Balls Creek (June 2003).

The purpose of the 16 South Corridor Development Plan is to build upon the foundation of the existing plans and 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. Most notably, there have been two developments approved in the 16 Corridor: the Lowes Home Improvement Store and Bridgewater project, both located at the intersection of Highway 150 and 16, and the new Highway 16 Bypass. With the opening of the new Highway 16 Bypass, there may be more development opportunities in the future.

The 16 South Corridor plan is divided into five different topic areas including: economic development, land use; transportation, public services and utilities; natural resources, and cultural resources. Each area highlights current conditions, plan principles (carried over from the Balls Creek and Sherrills Ford Small Area Plans), plan goals, and Plan Actions Strategies, which are the implementation components of the Plan.

Some of the key goals highlighted in the Plan are to pursue the development of a business and light industrial park, taking advantage of air transportation centered around Little Mountain Airport; to allow for additional light industrial uses adjacent to the airport north of Anderson Mountain and east of Highway 16; to provide a “gateway” into the county, possibly using signage and/or landscaping in the vicinity of the NC 16 Bypass and NC 150 intersection which could be a standardized design for similar entryways into the county; and to explore the feasibility of extending water and sewer service to Anderson Mountain to serve future proposed industrial and/or mixed-use development. As new large-scale development occurs, developers are required to extend utility lines based upon the County’s Water and Sewer Availability Ordinance; and conduct an assessment to determine the viability of consolidating wireless communication facilities and removing unnecessary tower structures on Anderson Mountain.

The 16 South Corridor Development Plan includes a future land use map that reflects the recent development within the plan boundary and identifies areas that may be appropriate for future development. This map is broken down into seven categories: residential-low density, residential-medium density, residential-high density, transitional, Office-Institutional, mixed use, and manufacturing/industrial. Open space areas include those properties that are currently preserved or could be preserved through a permanent conservation easement. Residential-low density areas are very rural in character and 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). Residential-high density applies to areas in the Mixed-Use Corridor district due to proximity to commercial districts and amenities. Transitional areas 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 are within the government’s intended service delivery area. The mixed-use areas are limited to properties adjacent to or within a short distance of Highway 150/16 intersections. Mixed-use development can include higher density residential, commercial, and office-institutional uses. Industrial areas are located within proximity to the Highway16 Bypass. Large scale, campus style (preferred) light industrial, development are the types of uses allowed.

The Plan was drafted by the Catawba County Planning staff with technical assistance from Catawba County Utilities and Engineering, Catawba County GIS, Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Economic Development Commission, NCDOT, Cooperative Extension, Catawba County Schools, and the Catawba County Historical Association. A public information forum was held on July 12, 2011 to gather public comments on the plan. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting. There were seven written comments received from the attendees with three supportive of the plan goals related to potential development around Little Mountain Airport, promotion of the Carolina Thread Trail and expansion of public transit to the area, and the recommendation to consolidate towers on Anderson Mountain if possible/viable. One comment was concerned with possible truck traffic generation and noise around Little Mountain with new development, one question regarded a possible gap in water service along East Maiden Road and whether a connection will be made, one concern was about standing water on East Maiden Road, and one comment suggested changes in the ranking of goals in the Transportation chapter.

Staff recommended the 16 South Corridor Development Plan and accompanying maps as presented to the Catawba County Planning Board. The Planning Board held a public hearing on July 25, 2011, to consider the plan. Two members of the public spoke in reference to the plan. One asked for clarification about the term “gateway” used in the plan and the other asked about the text amendment process in relation to recommendations and goals in the plan. By a vote of 6-0, the Planning Board recommends the adoption of the 16 South Corridor Development Plan and accompanying maps to the Board of Commissioners.

C. The Board will continue a public hearing, begun at its July 11, 2011 meeting, 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 Board continued the public hearing in order to do more research on the proposal.

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 UDO was adopted in 2007, new regulations prohibiting metal façades were created. While being partners in the 321 Corridor Plan, Newton and Maiden chose not to adopt regulations prohibiting metal façades in their 321-ED districts. The City of Hickory 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 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.

Since the adoption of the UDO, the Planning Department has received an increasing number of requests to use metal as a façade treatment. The Code currently states that ribbed metal material is not permitted as a construction material on building fronts or on façades visible from the public rights-of-way within the 321-ED(I) district. It is proposed that the Code be amended to permit the use of all types of metal as a construction material in the 321-ED(I) district with exception to building façades located within one-quarter mile of the US 321 right-of-way.

The use of metal façade treatments as mentioned above is increasing and serves 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 vistas from US 321. Protecting these “viewsheds” can be accomplished by requiring a greater distance separation.

The Planning Board held a public hearing on June 27, 2011. Mr. 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. Mr. Ed Neill, board member, cited a study performed by IHS Global Insight that predicted when certain areas would return to pre-recession 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 proposed 1260 foot buffer. Ms. 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. Mr. 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 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 1260 feet to 300 feet. By a vote of 6-2, the Planning Board favorably recommended these proposed amendments to Section 44-446.14 b. and e. site appearance, indicating a 300 foot buffer, to the Board of Commissioners.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

The Board will consider adopting a resolution outlining economic incentives for the expansion of Dalco Nonwovens and authorizing its Chair to execute all necessary documents. These incentives were approved by the Board at its June 6, 2011 meeting. Dalco Nonwovens operates a facility in Conover, manufacturing nonwoven textiles for a diverse array of markets, including geotechnical (landfill liner, roadbed filtration), automotive (floor mats in BMW X series automobiles), furnishings (packaging, carpet backing), industrial (oil absorption) and agricultural (crop covering). While many industries have been severely impacted by the global economic slowdown, Dalco Nonwovens has operated 24 hours a day/7 days a week and even declined sizable sales opportunities due to limited production capacity.

To break these constraints, the company’s expansion would double its productive output, investing approximately $7.3 million to purchase a new nonwovens production line. Dalco would invest an additional $1.7 million to construct 55,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space and an expanded office, bringing the total investment to at least $9 million. These investments would result in the retention of 30 existing employees and creation of 19 jobs with a full benefits plan. The average wage of the facility, including the 19 new positions, will exceed the average Catawba County wage of $34,216 annually.

At a June 6, 2011 meeting, the Board unanimously approved an incentive based on 40% of the increased tax on the new facility/equipment for three years, with a maximum total grant of $19,260/year, or $57,780 total. The ad valorem tax receipts on $9 million equal $143,100 over three years. This investment will net a positive payback ($85,320 over three years) to the County immediately. The Board’s approval contained stipulations that the company require a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent for any new hires 25 years of age or below, and that all new jobs, existing jobs and investment be maintained through December 31, 2018.

The economic development agreement is a three-party agreement between Catawba County, Dalco Nonwovens LLC and M & A Realty LLC – as both Dalco Nonwovens and M & A Realty may be investing in property improvements. Dalco Nonwovens operates the manufacturing operations in Conover. M & A Realty LLC owns all of the real estate and building(s) on which Dalco Nonwovens operates and leases the real property to Dalco Nonwovens LLC. The incentive will be paid to Dalco Nonwovens.

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