The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings on 1) a request to rezone 5.52 acres located at 3502 and 3530 Mt. Pleasant Road from RC Rural Commercial and R-30 Residential to PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District; 2) a request to name an unnamed driveway that accesses properties off Whitener Road and Maranatha Drive in Jacobs Fork township to Canino Haven; and 3) the County’s proposed application for a Community Development Block Grant; and will consider awarding bids for construction of a biodiesel research and white goods freon recovery facility at the County’s EcoComplex, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 17, 2009 in the Second Floor Meeting Room of the Catawba County Government Center at 100-A Southwest Boulevard in Newton, NC. Please note the change in the Board’s normal meeting location because of Soldier’s Reunion activities taking place around the 1924 Courthouse on the evening of August 17.
The Board will also consider amendments to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance which would clarify portions of the Ordinance related to potentially dangerous dogs; an economic incentive plan regarding an expansion at Ethan Allen’s manufacturing facility in Maiden that will restore 150 jobs lost in previous layoffs and create 152 new jobs; final approval of several documents related to proposed financing for Catawba Valley Medical Center, using Federal stimulus grants with no financial obligation to the County, to fund a renovation and reconfiguration of the hospital’s entire surgical suite, associated office and work areas and upgrades to the hospital’s Central Energy Plant; and a tax refund request. The Board will also receive updates on the recent purchase of County-owned property in Mountain View by Lutheran Services for the Aging and on preparation and planning for Catawba County to host the annual meeting of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners from August 27-30, 2009.
Mr. Ted Goins, Jr., President of Lutheran Services for the Aging, is expected to address the Board on the recent purchase of County-owned property in Mountain View and provide an update on Lutheran Homes plans.
A. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request by Mr. Willis Spivey and Mr. Bradley Bustle to rezone two parcels totaling 5.52 acres, located at 3502 and 3530 Mt. Pleasant Road in the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning District, from RC Rural Commercial and R-30 Residential to PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District. One parcel is currently zoned RC Rural Commercial and is unoccupied. The second parcel is zoned R-30 Residential and contains four storage buildings and an office building, a non-conforming use. Two parcels to the north and one to the south are zoned R-30 Residential and unoccupied, while an additional parcel to the south is zoned R-30 Residential and occupied by a non-conforming campground. One parcel to the east is zoned R-30 Residential and unoccupied while one parcel to the east and one to the west are zoned R-30 Residential and occupied by single-family dwellings.
Planned Development rezoning is required when a proposed building exceeds 50,000 square feet. The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), section 44-443, states: “The Planned Development District is established to encourage the master planning of large scale, multiple and/or mixed use development patterns. Applicants who propose a planned development have more flexibility and creativity in design than is possible under conventional zoning regulations.”
Section 44-327 of the UDO states:“The Conditional Zoning Districts allow for the consideration of certain uses that, because of their nature or scale, have particular impacts on both the immediate area and the community as a whole and are created or established for selected criteria as indicated in the applicability section. The development of these uses cannot be predetermined and controlled by general district regulations. In addition, circumstances arise when a general zoning district designation would not be appropriate for a certain property, but specific uses permitted under the district would be consistent with the objectives of this section. To accommodate those situations, this section establishes the conditional zoning district process.”
The applicants have proposed to combine the two parcels and request that the properties be rezoned to Planned Development-Conditional District. The request for Planned Development is twofold, one being that the total square footage of all the structures would exceed 50,000 square feet, and because of watershed restrictions relating to the property. The use of Conditional District zoning provides that the use and development conditions will be determined prior to any approval and will not change unless approved by the Board of Commissioners.
The proposed development of the property includes utilizing the five existing structures (17,098 square feet) and the addition of eight additional mini-storage facilities (38,900 square feet). Other conditions agreed to by the developer include a maximum building height of 10 feet for new structures; a black tube steel fence with a wrought iron appearance, constructed along the frontage of Mt. Pleasant Rd. and Dockside Lane with stone or brick columns incorporated every 30 feet; shade trees planted along the road frontages of Mt. Pleasant Rd. and Dockside Lane approximately 30 feet apart; low-growing evergreen shrubs planted every five feet on center along the frontage of Mt. Pleasant Rd. and Dockside Lane between the decorative fence and road rights-of-way; lighting located on the building directed away from adjoining properties; building materials facing Mt. Pleasant Rd. being of stone and stucco, and the total square footage of all buildings being 55,998 square feet.
Additional UDO standards would be imposed on the development. All new buildings would be required to meet 30 foot front setbacks and a 50 foot setback from any adjacent residential district. The floor area ratio for planned developments allows 1 square foot of building space per 2 square feet of land area. The proposed square footage (55,998 square feet) of the project would be well under the allowable floor area ratio of 120,225 square feet. Because the site is located in a WS-IV Watershed Water Quality Critical Area, only 24% of the site is allowed impervious without approval of a high density development.
Mt. Pleasant Road is a -lane roadway at this location. Traffic counts taken in 2007, just east of the intersection of Little Mountain Road and Mt. Pleasant Road, were 2,100 vehicles per day, respectively. The Trip Generation manual published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers indicates the proposed use could add an average of 140 vehicle trips per day to Mt. Pleasant Rd. There are no improvements suggested for Mt. Pleasant Rd. The average daily trips should be below the capacity of the roadway’s design. Dockside Lane is a local residential road, which are generally less than a mile in length, may include cul-de-sacs or loop roads, and serve to transport vehicles to higher classified collector roads. There are no traffic counts available for these road systems.
Mr. Willis Spivey, the applicant, held an informal meeting on July 16, 2009 to allow community members to review the request and plans, ask questions, and voice any concerns. Approximately 35 people attended the meeting. In general, there was discussion about the history of the establishment, proposed use, hours of operation, traffic generation (specifically ingress and egress off Dockside Lane), fencing and aesthetics. County staff was available to discuss the rezoning process related to conditional districts and non-conforming uses. Because of the long standing commercial zoning of one parcel, and the established (non-conforming) non-residential use of the other parcel and conditions specified on the conceptual site plan for the proposed future development, staff supported the conditional rezoning request.
The applicant and staff have continued discussions with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) about the possibility of closing the Dockside Lane entrance to the site. NCDOT has concerns with closing the Dockside Lane entrance, including higher volumes of traffic along Mt. Pleasant Road as opposed to Dockside Lane, and safety issues related to turning movements and line of sight with the proximity of the Mt. Pleasant Road entrance to the Dockside Lane/Mt. Pleasant Road intersection.
The Catawba County Planning Board held a public hearing on July 27, 2009. Willis Spivey was available to speak about the request. Lynn Slaton, spokesman for approximately 50 people, spoke in opposition to the request. Those in opposition felt the rezoning request was not in compliance with the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan; recognized that the entire surrounding area is zoned residential; were concerned about additional increases to traffic on Dockside Lane, the disruption of peace and quiet, and increased litter. Mr. Jason Lewis, an adjacent property owner, spoke in favor of the request. He stated that, with this request, the community knows what it is getting and commented on how the applicants had cleaned up the property and buildings.
The Planning Board unanimously recommended the adoption of a statement acknowledging the inconsistency of the rezoning request with the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan and unanimously recommended the rezoning of the properties from RC Rural Commercial and R-30 Residential to PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District based on: 1) the existing commercial zoning of one parcel for 31 years and established non-conforming use of the other parcel; 2) the conditions shown on the site plan for the proposed development; and 3) the purpose of conditional district zoning to establish development conditions in the interest of the public and of protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of surrounding property owners.
B. The Board will hold a required second public hearing on a proposed application for a 2009 Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) Infrastructure Water/Sewer Hookup Grant. Catawba County is applying for a $75,000 Infrastructure Water/Sewer Hook-up Grant funded by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance. These funds are designed to enable local governments with existing public water and/or sewer lines to connect low to moderate-income households (with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income). The connections funded by this grant must be to existing water/sewer lines that were not funded with CDBGs. The County proposes to connect twenty low to moderate income homeowners to water and/or sewer where there is an existing municipal water/sewer line adjacent to the house. The grant will pay for all tap, capital or assessment fees and connection from the meter to the house. A first public hearing was held by the Board on February 16, 2009. There is no match required from the County on this particular grant.
C. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request for a proposed road name for an unnamed street in the Jacobs Fork Township. The goal of the County’s E-911 Office is to assign individual E-911 numbers to all dwellings located in Catawba County. One step towards achieving this goal is to name streets or driveways that meet the road naming requirements. The requirements for the road naming process are: the road must be at least 1200 feet in length and/or access three or more parcels. A request was received from Stephen and Kimberly Canino and Richard and Linda Jahn to name the unnamed drive which accesses their properties off Whitener Road and Maranatha Drive as Canino Haven. The entire length of the drive is located on their properties and does not affect any other parcels. This right of way meets the requirements for road naming. The suggested name, Canino Haven, is not duplicated elsewhere in the county and staff recommends the name be approved.
A. The Board will consider approval of a Supplemental Bond Order and Master Trust Agreement associated with the financing of an expansion and renovation at Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC). This financing will be repaid with revenues from operations of CVMC and no revenues of the County will be obligated. At its July 20, 2009 meeting, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the financing of the project and various documents associated with the financing. CVMC, a county-owned healthcare facility, requested that the County borrow up to $25 million to finance a renovation and reconfiguration of the hospital’s entire surgical suite, associated office and work areas, and upgrades to the hospital’s Central Energy Plant. The Supplemental Bond Order will update the County’s current hospital revenue bond order, which was originally adopted in 1992. The financing included issuance of Build America Bonds (BABs), which were offered as part of 2009 federal “stimulus” legislation. These bonds are taxable, unlike the tax-exempt debt the County has issued the last few years. Issuers of these bonds are eligible for a 35% refundable credit, which makes the net interest rate comparable to recent County transactions. The issuance of BABs will not affect the existing or future tax-exempt debt of the County nor the County’s $30 million debt limit for calendar years 2009 and 2010. The use of Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, also made available under the 2009 federal legislation, was approved to supplement the BABs. These bonds are available to local governments designated as part of a “recovery zone”, and issuers are afforded a 45% refundable credit instead of the 35% credit for BABs. Catawba County qualifies for these bonds due to its current unemployment rate and has been allocated $8.57 million for 2009. On August 4, 2009, the Local Government Commission approved the financing for the project.
B. The Board will consider a tax refund request totaling $498.16. Records have been checked and this refund verified, so the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund request. Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid his or her taxes may request a refund (in writing) for the amount that was paid through error.
A. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Board will consider an economic grant for Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc. regarding an expansion project which includes the consolidation of several domestic and foreign facilities into Ethan Allen’s manufacturing facility in Maiden, N.C. Ethan Allen’s Maiden facility would be the company’s sole facility devoted to upholstered furniture, positioning it in the lead for all future growth opportunities.
Ethan Allen has made a commitment to manufacture all of its retail furniture products in the United States, with the exception of a cut and sew operation in Mexico. It will add at least 152 net new jobs at the Maiden facility, with a total average wage of $39,800, well above the county average. These 152 net new jobs are in addition to restoring 150 positions from which employees had been laid off over the past year, for a minimum of 302 jobs associated with this expansion. Ethan Allen will invest $1.5 million in new personal property and $750,000 in real property investment to locate at the Maiden facility.
In order to create 152 net new jobs and restore 150 jobs from which employees had been laid off in the past year, bring new investment to Catawba County, and position the Maiden facility for all future growth opportunities, the Board will consider a 67% grant to Ethan Allen on all net new taxable investment in building and equipment over a three year period. The incentive would total a maximum of $8,065 per year over three years, for a maximum of $24,195. This investment would net a positive payback to the County immediately, similar to paybacks used to determine grant involvement in other Catawba County projects. The County would not “front-load” the grant payments to Ethan Allen, so there would be no chance of default.
B. EMERGENCY SERVICES
The Board will consider amendments to the Catawba County Animal Control Ordinance which will address what may be done with a dog declared “potentially dangerous” if it becomes sick or injured while in a secure enclosure; what happens if a potentially dangerous dog gets out of a secure enclosure and attacks a person or animal; what happens to a potentially dangerous dog if the owner fails to respond to the County’s Animal Services Division regarding the terms of the potentially dangerous dog declaration, and if an insurance requirement should be placed on the owner of a potentially dangerous dog to protect the public if the dog attacks again. The proposed amendment would also clarify the authority to waive certain Animal Services Fees.
On November 17, 2008, the Board approved amendments to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance. Since the amendments to the Ordinance have been in place, several potential dangerous dog cases have been reviewed by staff and heard on appeal by the Dangerous Dog Appellate Board. As these cases were being reviewed, several questions arose that resulted in a need for further clarification of the Animal Control Ordinance. Additionally, there are times when certain fees need to be waived and it is in the best interest of the public to do so. An example is a recent event when Animal Services was forced to seize a large number of dogs. A decision was made to waive adoption fees to ensure that as many of the seized animals were adopted as quickly possible to avoid euthanasia of those animals and keep the Animal Shelter population at a safe level. The current Ordinance does not expressly delegate to staff the authority to waive fees. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the adoption of this amendment to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance.
C. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
1. The Board will consider a proposed contract between the County and the City of Hickory for a waterline extension, under the Revenue Sharing Agreement Program, for the Blackburn-Plateau Water Supply Loop. This Loop is part of the County’s overall water supply plan. It consists of approximately 57,400 linear feet of 8-inch, 12-inch, and 16-inch diameter water lines. It will provide municipal water and fire protection to the site of a planned Apple Inc. Data Center, in accordance with the applicable Economic Development Agreement. The project will also provide municipal water to the proposed Propst Crossroads Fire Station, enhance fire protection in the Propst and Maiden Fire Districts, provide municipal water along the western and southern boundaries of the Blackburn Landfill and provide a secondary water supply loop to the Town of Maiden and the Southeast Catawba County Water Supply system in the event of a problem with the City of Hickory’s water supply main on Startown Road. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the execution of this contract with the City of Hickory.
2. The Board will consider awarding a construction bid for a planned Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility to David E. Looper & Company, Inc. of Hickory, NC, in the amount of $1,320,000, appropriating funding from the Solidwaste Management Fund in the amount of $1,346,400, and rejecting all bids on this project received on May 12, 2009.
The Catawba County EcoComplex will accommodate research involving all aspects of biologically derived energy recovery and utilization, as well as the research of biodiesel, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and ethanol for environmental, agricultural, Freon recovery, and energy use. Feedstock crops for use in the Research Facility are planted around the Blackburn Resource Recovery Facility.
Appalachian State University (ASU) approached Catawba County concerning a biodiesel educational and research facility as a component of the EcoComplex. A contract lease agreement between ASU and Catawba County, as well as a contract for the design of the Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility, the first of its kind in the nation, was approved by the Board on July 21, 2008. In addition to lease payments valued at $12,000 annually, ASU is providing two biodiesel processing systems and research related equipment for use in testing the derived biodiesel and its emissions, all of which is estimated to cost $1,900,000. ASU will also be providing multiple storage tanks for the various feedstock oils, process chemicals, and process byproducts. The storage tanks will range in capacity from 200 gallons to 6,500 gallons. ASU will be providing research related equipment including the complete outfitting of the research laboratory and the emissions testing areas including, among other things, a mass spectrometer and an in-ground dynamometer for the stationary testing of vehicles. ASU will also be providing a passenger vehicle and a pickup truck used in the testing and will be outfitting the office space with typical office equipment.
The proposed Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility will be constructed on the Blackburn Landfill property adjacent to the existing methane gas power generation facility fronting Rocky Ford Road. The building will be of modular steel frame construction with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that will contribute to the building’s overall environmental performance, including but not limited to: (1) use of renewable energy with 100% of the building’s power being supplied by renewable energy sources; (2) the building’s energy use is anticipated to be less than half the nationwide average for comparable buildings; (3) the building will employ several water conservation techniques such as rain water capturing, water reuse, and low flow plumbing fixtures; (4) 99 to 100% of the building’s waste will be recycled; (5) Green Seal certified cleaning products will be used in building maintenance; (6) acoustic ceilings and sound-absorbing surfaces will be used throughout office and lab areas of building; (7) building materials will be predominantly recycled resources; and (8) more than 99% of the building construction byproducts (waste) will be recycled.
On May 12, 2009, Catawba County received bids for construction of the facility from seventeen contractors. The first four contractors all made mistakes on their bids which would have required their bids to be deemed nonresponsive. Contractors either did not list their subcontractors on their bid or did not include required information. Staff felt it was in the best interest of the County to reject all bids and rebid the project after going through a contractor prequalification process. Twenty-one contractors were prequalified for this project. Bids were received on August 4, 2009 from the following contractors: Ascent Construction, $1,412,791; Carolina Construction, $1,521,825; Cirrus Construction, Inc., $1,634,711; Hickory Construction Company, $1,380,200; David E. Looper & Company, Inc., $1,320,000; Matthews Construction Co., Inc., $1,438,800; Moss-Marlow Building Co., Inc., $1,349,433 and G.L. Wilson Building Company, $1,409,362. Based on a review of the bids and qualification, Camp Dresser and McKee, a County consultant on the project, recommends the bid be awarded to David E. Looper & Company, Inc. of Hickory, N.C., in the amount of $1,320,000.
The project is being initially funded from the Solidwaste Enterprise Fund Balance. The County has applied for Qualified Energy Conservation Bond funding that, if received, will reimburse the Solidwaste Enterprise Fund. Regardless of funding source, the project has a rate of return on investment of 5% over a 15 year period, which is the minimum acceptable rate of return, is considerably higher than the County’s current rate of return on investment of 2%, and matches the County’s highest rate of return in recent history. The meeting or exceeding of the County’s current 2% rate of return insures the long term viability of the Solidwaste Enterprise Fund.
The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends rejecting all bids received on May 12, 2009; awarding the construction bid for the Biodiesel Research and White Goods Freon Recovery Facility to David E. Looper & Company, Inc. of Hickory, NC in the amount of $1,320,000; and appropriating funding from the Solidwaste Management Fund in the amount of $1,346,400.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board will be updated on the planning and preparation for the upcoming North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Annual Conference, which will be hosted by Catawba County from August 27-30, 2009.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464