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AUGUST 20, 2012

AGENDA
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, August 20, 2012, 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

3. Invocation

4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting of August 6, 2012

5. Recognition of special guests

6. Public comments for items not on the agenda

7. Appointments

8. Departmental Reports:


Legal Department:


1. Amendment to Catawba County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 34 – Streets, Sidewalks and Other Places – Adoption of New Article II – Public Use of County Grounds for Assembly and Adoption of a County Policy for the Public Use of Meeting Rooms and the 1924 Courthouse Grounds. Presented by County Attorney Debra Bechtel.


2. Quitclaim Deed to George F. Dagenhart.  Presented by County Attorney Debra Bechtel.


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 September Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. (this is due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, September 3, 2012) and on Monday, September 17, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

 

PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
AUGUST 20, 2012 7:00 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider proposed revisions to the Catawba County Code of Ordinances to address concerns about the constitutionality of certain sections of the current ordinance that address assembly for the purpose of expressing constitutionally protected speech, and a proposed policy for the use of meeting rooms within County facilities and the 1924 Courthouse Grounds, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 20, 2012, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will also consider a request from Mr. George F. Dagenhart that the County execute a quitclaim deed to Mr. Dagenhart for property adjoining the County-owned Mountain Creek property, which would firmly establish boundary lines for the properties.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

LEGAL
1. The Board will consider an amendment to the Catawba County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 34 - Streets, Sidewalks and Other Public Places, with the adoption of an entirely new Article II – Public Use of County Grounds for Assembly, and the adoption of a County Policy for the Public Use of Meeting Rooms and the 1924 Courthouse. On or about May 24, 2012, a group of citizens filed an application requesting to assemble on County-owned property pursuant to Chapter 34, Article II of the Catawba County Code of Ordinances. An issue arose with respect to the constitutionality of certain sections of the Code.

Historically, groups requesting use of County grounds or meeting rooms were not focused primarily on the expression of free speech, but instead were holding civic, cultural and historic events. The group in May 2012 was assembling for purposes of expressing free speech. In deciding a number of cases related to the expression of free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court established precedent which precludes an entity from requiring a 14-day advance notice, which the County’s ordinance previously did.

The revised ordinance focuses on assembly for purposes of expressing constitutionally protected speech. In a separate policy, the use of meeting rooms and the 1924 Courthouse grounds is addressed. The revised ordinance provides definitions, establishes standards of conduct for assemblies, and describes prohibited activities on public property.
The intent of the ordinance is to protect assemblers who are expressing constitutionally protected speech and the safety of the public, and to protect public facilities and grounds.

Provisions of the proposed new ordinance include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) A set of definitions of words used in the Article, including “Assemble or assembling”, “camp or camping”, “dangerous weapon”, “noxious substance”, “obstruct”, “obstruction object of instrument”, “sidewalk” and “temporary shelter”.

2) There would be separate applications; one for groups of 25 or more wishing to assemble for the purpose of expressing constitutionally protected speech, and another for groups wishing to use County meetings rooms or the 1924 Courthouse grounds for civic, cultural and historical events.

The new assembly application would require the name of the organization or group proposing to assemble; the name of the individual submitting the application; name, phone number and address of the individual who will be responsible for carrying the permit; the location or locations on County property where the assemblers propose to assemble; the date on which the assembly is to occur, including starting and ending times; and the anticipated number of participants. Permitted locations include the lawns of the Justice Center, Government Center, 1924 Courthouse, Social Services and Public Health. The person in charge of the assembly would be required to carry the permit during the assembly.

3) Standards of Conduct would specify areas where people may assemble and park, and what they may carry.

4) There would also be prohibited activities on County grounds. Some of the prohibited activities would include camping; the setting of fires; obstructing public roads, sidewalks, and entrances to public buildings; attaching anything to buildings, vehicles, utility poles, trees, etc.; projecting a noxious substance; or possessing a firearm or dangerous weapon of any kind while participating in or present at any assembly.

The proposed new policy regarding the use of meeting rooms and the 1924 Courthouse grounds for non-profit educational, civic, cultural and historical events would require that an application be filed 14 days in advance. Prohibitions would include loud or disruptive behavior, obstruction of the flow of traffic, fires and weapons, attached signs or decorations, and eating or drinking in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse. Groups would be responsible for disposal of trash and must recycle. A deposit fee of $100 is required at the time of application for meeting rooms, which would be returned when the key to the room is returned, provided that no cleaning is required.

The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of the proposed ordinance and policy.

2. The Board will consider executing a quitclaim deed to Mr. George F. Dagenhart. Mr. Dagenhart acquired property from Mrs. Ethel G. Cochrane in 1956, as evidenced by a warranty deed recorded in Book 532, Page 147, Catawba County Registry. Mr. Dagenhart is now selling the property and, after examining the title, Attorney Robert Mullinax discovered defects in the chain of title. On behalf of Mr. Dagenhart, Mr. Mullinax has requested that Catawba County, an adjoining property owner, execute a quitclaim deed to Mr. Dagenhart so that a title insurance company will insure over the defect and Mr. Dagenhart may proceed with the closing.

Catawba County owns approximately 588 acres north of the property in question (the Mountain Creek property acquired from Crescent Resources pursuant to a development agreement). It appears from the public record that Catawba County does not have an ownership interest in any portion of the property Mr. Dagenhart claims and intends to sell. It is advantageous to the property owners, including the County, to establish a clear boundary line, and the quitclaim deed will help accomplish that. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board’s execution of this quitclaim deed.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464