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OCTOBER 17, 2011
1. Call to Order
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular and Closed Sessions of October 3, 2011
5. Recognition of Special Guests
6. Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda
7. Public Hearings:
9. Consent Agenda:
10. Departmental Report.
11. Other Items of Business.
13. Manager’s Report.
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.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on 1) a request to rezone 1.84 acres, located at 5436 Highway 150 East, from R-20 Residential to HC-CD Highway Commercial-Conditional District; and 2) the County’s proposed application for a $50,000 NC Tomorrow Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, which would make the County part of a plan to identify economic development needs and build a statewide plan that reflects local needs, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 17, 2011, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also finalize its goals for fiscal year 2012-2013 and consider the authorizing of various documents related to the refunding of a portion of the County’s installment debt, up to $60 million; the acceptance of a State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help meet some of the costs of housing potential undocumented criminal aliens in local jails; proposed changes to the County’s Support For Education Policy, to expand the policy to allow County employees to participate in mentoring programs in schools; the acceptance of an $88,000 grant from the State to be used to remove an abandoned dam which has caused some flooding on private property; and proposed financing in the amount of $650,000 for upgrades of County computer equipment.
The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Section 44-418, HC Highway Commercial District, states “The district provides areas for regional highway-oriented business, office, service and civic uses. The district regulations are designed to protect and encourage the transitional character of the district by permitting uses and building forms that are compatible with the surrounding uses.” Section 44-327, CD Conditional Zoning District states, “The conditional zoning districts included herein 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. A conditional zoning district is not intended for securing speculative zoning for a proposal but rather is based on a firm development proposal.”
Mr. Gilleland has submitted a site plan for proposed development of the parcel if it is rezoned HC-CD. The proposed ground floor area is 10,500 square feet. The HC Highway Commercial floor area ratio is 1:3; where, for every square foot of building space there must be three square feet of land area. In this case, based on the current property size of 80,150 square feet, the maximum building(s) square footage would be 26,716 square feet. The maximum building height proposed is 50 feet. The site plan indicates development could happen in one or two phases. Each building shown on the site plan is proposed to be available for single or multi-tenant retail, financial, and/or medical use. A sidewalk is shown along the front of the property and others connect parking areas to building entrances. In the event a Greenway Public Transportation or Charlotte Area Transit System proposes a stop at this site, a possible bus shelter location is shown on the plan.
The number of parking spaces will be determined based on specific uses. Certain uses such as restaurants which require more parking per building area, may be limited based on the available area for parking. The plan also depicts an entrance and right/left turn exit that will be reviewed by the North Carolina Department Of Transportation. Notations on the site plan address the County’s landscaping requirements for parking facilities, parcel perimeter buffers, foundation plantings, internal parking landscaping, and the natural vegetative buffer along the stream, which meet the UDO requirements. A detailed landscape plan will be submitted for administrative review before a zoning permit can be issued.
Building materials as shown on the building schematic will either be of stucco, brick, hardboard siding, or stone with glass windows and entryways. Awnings could be over the building entrances. Any roof-mounted mechanical units will be shielded from view by parapet walls. According to the sign schematic, the on-premise sign would be a monument type. Construction materials for the sign and dumpster screening will be compatible with the buildings. A dumpster area would also have a solid, closable gate. No pre-manufactured building materials (metal facades) or low roof pitches are proposed.
The Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The subject property is in an area recommended for a regional/commercial mixed use center, which are designed to provide a mixture of uses such as commercial (including “big box” design), office-institutional, and multi-family. Because of its nature and proposed uses, staff considers this request to be reasonable and in conformance with the adopted land use plan. Staff recommended the rezoning request to the Planning Board based on the request being consistent with the adopted small area plan, consideration of the pattern of surrounding zoning district classifications; the request being in harmony with those classifications and land uses; and the conditions (building materials, uses, sign type) proposed.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on September 26, 2011. The applicant, Scott Gilleland, was available and addressed the board. Martin Pannell asked several questions about how the project would use wastewater treatment. Doug Rink, who has worked with Mr. Gilleland on the project, offered to discuss the plans with Mr. Pannell after the meeting. Sybil Stewart, Planning Board member, asked if sewer was planned for this area. Ed Neill, Planning Board member, stated that other administrative agencies will review wastewater issues and this was not a relevant concern of the Board’s. The Planning Board voted, 6-0, to submit a favorable recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to rezone this 1.84 acre parcel from R-20 Residential to HC-CD Highway Commercial-Conditional District, based on the factors listed above.
B. The Board will hold a public hearing to receive citizen input prior to the submission of a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant NC Tomorrow Grant application, and consider an authorizing resolution, on behalf of the four counties in the Unifour region, for submission of the application. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has directed the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Regional Council of Governments to work with all communities to build a statewide economic development strategy that is grounded in the needs of each local community and builds up to the regional and statewide level, with the ultimate outcome being a statewide economic development plan. It has been 20 years since the last statewide economic development planning process was initiated. The focus and foundation of this planning process is to identify economic development needs and build a statewide plan that reflects local needs.
Catawba County will benefit from the grant, as it will serve as the Lead Local Unit of Government on behalf of Alexander, Burke and Caldwell Counties, will act in a primary role in the development of the Statewide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and will have direct access to technical support, data analysis and other economic development analysis tools via the Governor’s direct partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, N.C. Department of Commerce and the SAS Institute of Cary. Catawba County will administer the grant funds through an agreement with the Western Piedmont Council of Government, which will gather data for analysis by the SAS Institute.
B. The Board will consider acceptance of a grant in the amount of $88,000 from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to be used for a Shuford Mill dam removal project on the Henry River in Brookford. The abandoned dam is owned by Shuford Development Company, which has given written permission for and is supportive of the removal. The dam is estimated to be 35 feet high, 4.5 feet wide at the top, and 200 feet long. A gate at the bottom of the dam has been left open so it does not regularly impound water except during high flow events, when water can back up beyond the bridges upstream and cause flooding of private property. This has also caused significant bank erosion immediately upstream of the dam, which may eventually impact the highway bridge. The dam was built in the early 1900s to provide water power to a textile mill that has been abandoned for over 30 years. The large mill building still exists and is used for furniture storage. The owner does not have long-term plans for the property, and removal of the mill building is a possibility. The dam is not licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It is regulated by North Carolina’s Dam Safety Program and classified as low hazard. This project will support an existing paddle/blue trail on the river. There are dedicated access points upstream and downstream of the dam, but no safe route around the dam.
The project is funded by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish Passage Program and North Carolina Division of Water Resources and will be managed jointly by Carolina Land & Lakes and American Rivers. The main goals of the project are to restore multiple ecological functions of the river, including hydrologic flow, natural sediment transport, stream habitat, and connectivity of aquatic population; restore stream banks and riparian habitat at the site; and improve safety for boaters on the river. Removal of the dam will connect 10 miles of habitat to the next dam upstream, the Henry River Dam, which is also being considered for removal in the future. The removal of these two dams would open 135 miles of river and tributary streams. This work will be coordinated with additional efforts, to achieve passage on FERC dams on the South Fork of the Catawba River and other Santee Basin streams. The total project is estimated at $195,000, which has been set aside by the Division of Water Resources. Phase 1 of the project has been funded, and will include soliciting proposals for engineering and design plans sufficient for permitting and construction. This will be a pass-through grant from the County to Carolina Land & Lakes to manage the project. Once Phase 1 is complete, Phase 2 will be funded by DENR, estimated to be $107,000 for the actual deconstruction of the dam. The Board will consider Phase 2 approval if that grant is awarded by the State. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends acceptance of these grant funds.
C. The Board will consider proposed financing in the amount of $650,000 for computer equipment upgrades. Five years ago, the County implemented a plan to create a Server Area Network (SAN) that reduced the number of servers required to run County business applications and provided an alternate site for backup in case of a disaster or loss of equipment use. The original equipment was financed over a five-year period and will be paid off later in this fiscal year. Major upgrades to the SAN are now needed, which will cost approximately $650,000.
The equipment purchase was planned in the current year’s budget, to be financed over another five-year period, as the original equipment loan was paid off. The new equipment was purchased in July 2011 from EMC/Katalyst through State contract pricing and the financing needs to be secured. A Request for Financing Proposals was sent to several financial institutions on September 21, with five responding on September 30. Banc of America Public Capital Corporation was the lowest bidder at an interest rate of 1.67% financed over a term of 59 months with quarterly payments. Local Government Commission approval is not required on local government loans for less than five years. The County will be borrowing the funds through an installment purchase transaction authorized under North Carolina General Statute 160-A.20, with the equipment pledged as collateral on the loan. Debt payments will begin in December and are already included in the current year budget. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of this financing.
D. The Board will consider proposed changes to the Catawba County Support for Education Policy that add employee participation in school mentoring programs as a covered activity and updates sections of the policy that are no longer pertinent. Recognizing that education plays an important factor in the future quality of life and economic growth of the County, the Board of Commissioners adopted the Catawba County Support for Education Policy in 1990. The Policy encourages employees’ participation in school related activities in hopes of creating an environment that promotes a higher quality of learning in the community. The current Policy limits employee involvement to parent-teacher conferences, school tutoring programs and serving as a guest lecturer at a school. There is now an opportunity for employees to participate in mentoring programs at various schools. The Policy, as currently written, does not address mentoring programs. The proposed revision adds mentoring programs as a covered activity. It does not increase the number of hours the County would match for an employee to participate in such a program. The revised Policy also removes serving as a guest lecturer through the schools’ “speakers bureau” from the Policy, because this program no longer exists in the school systems. Finally, the revised Policy includes a variety of other minor changes, such as clarifying that the time allowed away from work for parent-teacher conferences is per child, not total time. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends approval of these proposed changes.
With rates at historic lows, the most recent analysis shows that the County’s 2004 Certificates Of Participation transaction, along with its 2003 and 2008 installment purchase loans, can be refunded at current interest rates to achieve approximately 4.31% net present value savings, amounting to more than $2 million in savings over the next 17 years. That amount can fluctuate as interest rates change between now and the sale date, which is expected in mid-November. Catawba County last refunded its debt in 2005, resulting in interest savings of approximately $500,000 over ten years.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
The Board’s proposed goals are:
1. Support a coordinated effort to create jobs and property tax base by investing in infrastructure, the development of the County’s quality of life, and educational opportunities. Participate with the private sector in determining a long-term vision.
Specific strategies include:
a. Aggressive recruitment of most favored industries;
2. Prepare a fiscal year 2012-13 budget which provides needed County services within available revenues, including no property tax increase, ensuring that the County addresses its short term needs while planning for long term growth and maintaining the Board of Commissioners’ policy of two months of operating expenses.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464
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