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SEPTEMBER 8 , 2014
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, September 8, 2014, 7 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 August 18, 2014
6. Public Comment for items not on the agenda
8. Public Hearing:
10. Consent Agenda:
11. Departmental Reports:
A. Social Services:
12. Other Items of Business.
14. 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.
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 be no other Board of Commissioners Meetings in September. The October Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. These meetings will in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room in the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
PREVIEW OF BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS AGENDA
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on a proposed Highway 150 Corridor Plan, which was designed, after two public meetings were held to hear concerns and suggestions from citizens in the corridor area, to put strategies in place to manage the future growth of the corridor, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 8, 2014, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will be formally presented with the proposed 2015 Schedule of Values, a set of standards and rules created following the study of the county’s current real estate market which, after final approval by the Board, will be used to set property values effective on January 1, 2015.
The Board will also consider a proposed new Work First Plan for October 2016 through September 2019. It will consider approving a first amendment to the 2009 Apple Economic Development Agreement, which would clarify specific parcels and improvements subject to the initial agreement that related to the Apple Data Center in Maiden, in light of Apple having developed other property in the county since the 2009 agreement. The Board will consider a request from the Bandys Crossroads Volunter Fire Department to appropriate $30,000 of the department’s existing fund balance to replace a damaged pump and tank used on a brush truck. And the Board will consider appropriating $54,633 in accumulated Cooperative Extension fund balance to support 4-H, agriculture/local foods and food safety programs.
The Board will receive a report from the County Tax Collector on the settlement of 2013 taxes. And the Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of October 5-11, 2014, as Fire Prevention Week.
Over the past fifteen years, Catawba County has adopted long-range planning initiatives for the purpose of providing the framework for coordinated growth and development. These plans included a countywide comprehensive plan, referred to as VisionQuest 2010 (1996), Future Forward (2003), and smaller focused plans referred to as “Small Area Plans” or SAPs. The plan most associated with the Highway 150 corridor is the Sherrills Ford SAP (February 2003).
The purpose of the Highway 150 Corridor Plan is to build on the foundation of the existing plans and develop a more detailed set of implementation strategies with measurable outcomes and timelines. The planning process also allows for reexamination of policies, given current economic conditions and recent developments within the plan boundary. Most notably is the increased activity around the Highway 150 corridor as a major link between Charlotte and Hickory. Similarly, the area between Denver and Terrell will most likely experience high growth in the next several decades. The Highway 150 Corridor plan is divided into five different topic areas including: economic development, land use and community design, transportation, public services and community facilities, natural/cultural resources and open space. Each area highlights current conditions, plan principles (carried over from the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan), plan goals, and Plan Actions Strategies, which are the implementation components of the Plan.
Following are some of the key goals highlighted in the Highway 150 Plan based on existing plans and citizens’ input: pursue well planned developments offering amenities, services, and jobs designed to attract a wide ranging population at strategic locations within the corridor; modify land area for mixed use, commercial, and multi-family development so it is clustered at strategic intersections to allow for increased access to goods and services, while minimizing associated traffic congestion; allow for additional flexibility within the Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay, through additional uses, roof design and placement of structures within developments; promote the route for Highway 150 through the Terrell Historic District, and the intersection alignments of Sherrills Ford Road/Slanting Bridge Road, Highway 150/Mt. Pleasant Road, and Highway 150/Greenwood Road; construct a multi-purpose lane and bike path during the widening of the Highway 150 corridor; request that the North Carolina Department Of Transportation (NCDOT) consider designing an elevated Lake Norman bridge in order to provide greater access to larger boats; work with Iredell County and Mooresville to coordinate Highway 150 development regulations; and include the Community Oriented Schools concept, which uses a collaborative process that involves the community, key stakeholders, planning, and school officials as one of the factors in new school facility site selection; preserve open space by encouraging farmers to participate in the Voluntary Agricultural District program and work with developers to include open space within their projects; and encourage and support the Catawba County Historical Association and North Carolina Historical Society to preserve historic properties and help identify adaptive reuse opportunities to ensure sustainability.
The Highway 150 Corridor 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. The map is broken down into several categories: Residential-High Density (R-20), Residential-Medium Density (R-30), Office-Institutional, Mixed use/Commercial/Multi-family, and Industrial/Infrastructure. Residential-Medium density areas (R-30) are located near the lake to help protect the environmental quality of the area and allows for 1.33 dwelling units per acre and limited non-residential development (churches, schools). Residential-High Density (R-20) applies to areas with proximity to commercial districts and amenities, but farther from the lake. The mixed-use areas are limited to properties adjacent to or within a short distance from the intersections of Highway 150/16, Highway 150/Mt. Pleasant Road, Highway 150/Slanting Bridge Road, Highway 150/Sherrills Ford Road, and where existing commercial uses exist near the lake on the eastern end of the corridor. Mixed-use development can include higher density residential, commercial, and office-institutional uses. The industrial areas are limited to areas currently zoned Industrial.
The Plan was drafted by the Catawba County Planning staff with information from several agencies in Catawba County and regional information from Lincoln County, City of Mooresville, and Iredell County which touch the study areas. A public informational forum was held on November 21, 2013, to gather public comments on the plan. Approximately 250 people attended the meeting. There were several written comments received from the attendees. Generally speaking, most wanted commercial activities along the corridor, but wanted them somewhat consolidated with joint access to avoid commercial sprawl and congestion. Most wanted bike lanes; many felt infrastructure should be installed before more development occurred. Plan strategies were considered by the Catawba County Planning Board at its February 24, 2014 meeting.
A follow-up forum was held on May 8, 2014, to give the public an opportunity to view the draft plan and offer comments. The majority of comments were consistent with those expressed at the November 21 forum. Additional comments included consideration for connection of Highway 150 with Burris Road to help with emergency traffic. Raising the proposed Highway 150 bridge over the lake to allow for larger boat access was expressed as well. Approximately 80 people attended the meeting.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on May 27, 2014, to consider the plan. No one from the public was present to speak for or against the plan. Board discussion after the public hearing included the following observations/requests: it would be advantageous to reserve additional right-of-way during the Highway 150 design phase to include space for a multi-modal path, even if trails cannot be built at this time; revise the Public Facilities & Utilities Map to show which of the sewer lines are gravity fed (if applicable) versus pressurized lines; request that NCDOT look at possible realignment or warrant study for a signal light at the Grassy Creek Road/Highway 150 and Mt. Pleasant intersection; and request that NCDOT consider the costs and benefits of raising the main Highway 150 bridge at Lake Norman. (Note: Each of these observations/requests are covered in the proposed Plan.)
By a vote of 9-0, the Planning Board recommended the Highway 150 Corridor Plan and accompanying maps to the Board of Commissioners for its consideration for approval. Since the Planning Board public hearing, staff prepared a comparison chart reflecting current requirements and proposed changes to Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay (MUC-O) standards for the Board of Commissioners. Staff also revised the map entitled Highway 150 Corridor Study Future Zoning Overlay by removing the expanded MUC-O for the proposed Village Center and leaving the existing 500-foot MUC-O on both sides of Highway 150 through the Village Center properties. Any future development of the Village Center must meet MUC-O standards within the existing 500-foot area (either side of right-of-way) as required in the development conditions specified in the 2007 rezoning of the properties. Also, the expanded MUC-O for the Village Center is not recommended because NCDOT has yet to determine if a re-route to Highway 150 is necessary. In addition to MUC-O standards applying to a portion of the Village Center, a Planned Development-Conditional Zoning was approved on April 7, 2007, for the entire 192 acres with a set of standards, conditions, amenities, public spaces, open space, and passive recreational facilities.
Staff recommends the Highway 150 Corridor Plan as recommended by the Planning Board, with modifications to the map entitled Highway 150 Corridor Study Future Overlay by removing the expanded MUC-O for the proposed Village Center and leaving the existing 500-foot MUC-O on both sides of Highway 150 through the Village Center properties.
The amendment: (1) clarifies specific parcels and improvements subject to the initial agreement; (2) provides a grant for only solar improvements at the Claremont facility, but only if the State stopped providing its grant on solar equipment (no property at the Conover location is subject to the original agreement or this amendment); (3) states the County is desirous and supportive of Apple’s development and utilization of green energy sources in order to offset new energy demands created by specific, identified, and announced building and personal property investments and new job creation in Catawba County; and (4) clarifies that investments on those parcels will qualify for Economic Development grants as categorized in the proposed Amendment.
The proposed amendment clarifies that the addition of solar energy equipment will not be recognized for economic development grants by the County unless the current State exemption for grants is repealed, and would only then grant an amount equal to the current State exemption for qualifying solar equipment under North Carolina General Statutes 105-275(45), holding the County harmless. The County would receive the same amount of net taxes on the solar properties even if the current State exemption was to be repealed. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this amendment.
B. The Board will consider a request to appropriate existing fund balance in the amount of $30,000 for the Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, which would use these funds to replace a skid unit (pump and tank) on a currently owned brush truck. The Fire Department has a 1989 brush truck that has a rusted tank and the rust has damaged the pump. The new skid unit contains both a new tank and new pump and is estimated to cost approximately $35,000. The cost to replace the entire truck is approximately $100,000. The Department feels the truck is mechanically sound enough to continue operational usage once the skid unit is replaced.
Historically, each department has its own fund balance carried from year to year unless the department makes a request to appropriate it. The fund balance is created through tax revenue collections exceeding the projections established by the Budget Department prior to the fiscal year. The Fire Department can utilize 90% of the existing fund balance to address major projects such as buildings, building additions, truck replacement and other non-recurring needs such as equipment items. Ten percent of each department’s fund balance is held for unforeseen expenditures during the budget year. Bandys Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department has an available fund balance of $46,225. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the appropriation of these funds.
C. The Board will consider a budget revision to allocate fund balance in the amount of $54,633 to Cooperative Extension and Public Health to support 4-H, agriculture/local foods, and food safety programming. Over the last several years, Cooperative Extension accumulated $54,633 in its liability accounts through program revenue over-collection. These revenues were used to fund departmental initiatives such as ServSafe, Voluntary Agricultural District, Camisole Project, and 4-H programming. The decision was made to modify the way the accounting for these funds occurs by closing out the liability accounts with the end of Fiscal Year 2013/14. Closing the accounts resulted in the revenues falling to General Fund Fund Balance. In order for this $54,633 in funds to be spent in the current year, it needs to be allocated to the operating budget. Cooperative Extension will need $42,633 to support its programs during Fiscal Year 2014/15, and Public Health’s Environmental Health Division will need $12,000 to support its delivery of the ServSafe training. These funds will be used to train current staff and administer the program formerly run through Cooperative Extension. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this budget revision.
On July 21, 2014, the Board voted to pursue “Electing County” status and appointed a committee to assist in the development of the county’s Work First Plan. The draft plan was available for public review and comments from August 11-15, 2014. Copies of the plan were placed at the Department of Social Services and on the Social Services Web Page.
The philosophy of the Work First Plan incorporates quality values and organizational standards that reflect respect for the worth and dignity of each and every citizen. Catawba County’s plan takes personal responsibility to the next level, as well as modeling the plan after the “real world of work”. The plan is to have long-term successful family and child well-being outcomes for the entire Work First population.
Highlights of the plan include: (1) Benefit Diversion Requirements: Catawba County will follow established policies implemented by the State regarding benefit diversion with the following exceptions: applicant must cooperate with Child Support, apply for or be receiving Food Assistance, and must register with the Employment Security Commission if not already employed or job being held for the applicant and, if monetarily eligible for Unemployment Benefits (UIB), must apply for the UIB prior to approval of the Benefit Diversion application. (2) Cooperation with Child Support is an eligibility requirement: Applicant must cooperate with child support within 12 calendar days of applying for Work First Family Assistance (WFFA). If the applicant fails or refuses to do so without good cause, deny the application for WFFA and notify the Medicaid worker (applicants must apply for Medicaid before applying for WFFA). (3) Evaluate for or be receiving Food Assistance: Applicant must be receiving Food Assistance or be evaluated for Food Assistance within 12 calendar days of applying for WFFA. If the applicant fails or refuses to do so without good cause, deny the application for WFFA and notify the Medicaid worker (applicants must apply for Medicaid before applying for WFFA). (4) Vocational Rehabilitation: All Work First applicants and recipients referred to Vocational Rehabilitation must complete an application and comply with all recommendations. Failure or refusal to comply without good cause will result in the case being denied or terminated. Future eligibility is contingent upon completing the application and cooperating with Vocational Rehabilitation. (5) Substance Abuse/Mental Health Initiative for all cases: Caretakers in child only cases will be required to comply with the policy outlined in Section 104B of the Work First manual – Substance Abuse/Mental Health Initiative as a condition of eligibility. This is an effort to ensure child wellbeing. (6) Job Quit: Job quit will be applied to individuals that have been informed of the Job Quit Policy at any time in their history of receiving Work First and who voluntarily quit a job, refuse to accept a bona fide job offer, request a reduction in hours, all without good cause or are terminated with cause.
“Electing County” status continues to be preferred for Catawba County, because it allows greater flexibility in program administration and the possibility to be financially advantageous, although it would certainly be less advantageous than in past years. On August 19, 2014, the Catawba County Social Services Board approved the Work First Electing Plan. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the submission of this Plan.
2. The Board is expected to receive the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules for Catawba County’s 2015 Revaluation and consider a recommended timeline for ultimate adoption of the proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules that meets statutory requirements.
Pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Board on October 3, 2011, Catawba County’s next countywide revaluation will become effective January 1, 2015. Catawba County has approximately 87,000 separate parcels of land which are required by State law to be appraised at 100% of market value as of the effective revaluation date. To that end, Catawba County staff has worked for many months analyzing data derived from real estate sales, building cost data, and income and expense statements from income producing properties in the County. This has culminated in the formulation of a proposed Schedule of Values, Standards, and Rules to be utilized to generate market value appraisals for all real property in Catawba County.
The Schedule of Values is a set of standards and rules that are used as an appraisal manual by the County appraisal staff to assure properties are valued in an accurate and consistent manner. The schedule contains information on methods used to determine land and building values based on criteria such as: location, age, type of construction, zoning, income potential, cost, etc.
Also included in the proposed Schedule of Values is a special schedule for appraising eligible agricultural, horticultural, and forest land at its “present use” value. This is a statewide schedule formulated by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Properties whose owners qualify for “present use” assessment will receive two values: a market value mandated by law and a “present use” value.
Adoption of the proposed Schedule of Values is an important step in the revaluation process. Because of its importance, the Machinery Act of North Carolina requires the Board of Commissioners to only adopt it after holding a public hearing and then publicizing that it has done so. After the adoption, property owners will have 30 days to challenge the Schedule of Values by appeal to the North Carolina State Property Tax Commission. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute 105-317(c), the proposed Schedule of Values must be formally presented to the Board of Commissioners not less than 21 days before the meeting at which it will be considered. After the formal presentation, the Board of Commissioners must notify the public through newspapers of general circulation that it has received the proposed Schedule of Values and that it is open for inspection at the Assessor’s office. The notice must also inform the public that a public hearing will be held, giving the specific date, time, and place. This public hearing must be at least seven days before the Board of Commissioners’ adoption of the proposed Schedule of Values. Staff has recommended the public hearing be scheduled for October 6, 2014, at 9:30 a.m., in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse.
Staff recommended the vote for formal adoption occur at the October 20, 2014, meeting in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse. Afterwards, a newspaper notice must be published stating that the Schedule of Values has been adopted and that property owners have 30 days from the date of the first publication to challenge the Schedule of Values by appeal to the North Carolina State Property Tax Commission on grounds that the Schedule of Values does not adhere to the appropriate statutory valuation standard (that it will produce values that are too high, too low or inconsistent). The North Carolina State Property Tax Commission has the power to order the Board of Commissioners to revise the Schedule of Values if they do not adhere to the statutory valuation standard. The North Carolina State Property Tax Commission’s decision may be appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Assuming an October 20, 2014, adoption of the Schedule of Value, property owners would have until Wednesday, November 19, 2014, to challenge the Schedule of Values.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464
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