PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2010, 7:00 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on 1) a request to rezone 0.86 acres at 3728 Sulphur Springs Road from R-20 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial Conditional District, 2) a request to rezone approximately 5.19 acres at 7804 and 7826 Highway 150 East from HC Highway Commercial to R-20 Residential zoning; and 3) on a proposed amendment to the budget for the County’s 2009-2010 Community Development Block Grant Infrastructure Hook-up Grant to reflect the County’s having received a second grant for $75,000 from the program; and will consider a proposed set of goals for the Board of Commissioners for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 and a meeting schedule for 2011, when the Board meets at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 15, 2010, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider the early termination of a contract with two companies to extract landfill gas from closed areas of the active Blackburn and closed Newton landfills, which will save the County $315,315; and an agreement that would cap interest rates on 2009 bonds issued for projects at Catawba Valley Medical Center. The interest rate for the projects would be capped at 8%. The Board will also hear a request to support the naming of Interstate 40 bridges for fallen State Trooper C. H. Hoffman and a report on recent activities of the Catawba County Youth Council; and present a special award to Catawba County Schools Interim Superintendent, Glenn Barger.
A. Catawba County Schools Interim Superintendent Glenn Barger will be honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his long history of public service as a Catawba County educator, principal, superintendent and county commissioner.
B. The Board will receive a presentation from North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sgt. Kelly Stewart, who will request that the Board support the naming of Interstate 40 bridges for fallen Trooper Cecil H. Hoffman. Trooper Hoffman was killed on March 15, 1968 while in pursuit of a speeding vehicle and left behind a wife and two small children. The North Carolina Board of Transportation has authority to make such dedications, and Sgt. Stewart will ask that the Catawba County Board of Commissioners join with the Iredell County Board of Commissioners in supporting this request.
C. The Catawba County Youth Council will report on its involvement in the recent North Carolina Association of County Commissioners District Meeting. Council members participated in a leadership program and identified ten issues affecting teens today.
A. The Board will hold a second public hearing on a proposed amendment to the budget for a 2009-10 Community Development Block Grant Infrastructure Water/Sewer Hook-up grant to add $75,000 in additional grant funds to the budget, and will consider an amendment in the amount of $7500 to an administrative contract with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) for administering the grant. In January 2010, the County received a $75,000 grant to provide low to moderate income households with taps and connections to existing municipal water/sewer lines(s) in Catawba County. The County has now received from the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance an additional $75,000 to expand this grant. To date, eighteen homes have been connected to either water or sewer service. The County is proposing to connect an additional ten to nineteen low to moderate-income households in Catawba County to water and/or sewer service where there are municipal water/sewer lines in front of the house. The grant will pay for all tap fees, capital or assessment fees and connection from the meter to the house. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommended conducting this public hearing, amending the budget ordinance and making the appropriate budget revision, as well as amending the administrative contract with the WPCOG.
B. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request by Bumgarner Oil to rezone one parcel, totaling 0.86 acres, from R-20 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial-Conditional District. The property is located at the intersection of Sulphur Springs Road and Snow Creek Road in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District. This parcel is zoned R-20 Residential and has been the location of a service station since the early 1970s. The service station is still in operation and considered non-conforming. By right, the applicant could purchase the property and continue to operate the service station. Properties to the north, south, east and west are zoned R-20 Residential and include single-family homes, an accessory structure and one vacant property.
The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Section 44-417, RC Rural Commercial District states: “This district provides small areas for offices, services, and retail uses, all designed in scale with surrounding residential 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 rural areas of the county. This district establishes setback and area standards that are compatible with residential neighborhoods.”
The Catawba County UDO 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 below. 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.”
As part of the conditional zoning, a developer submits a list of voluntary conditions which exceed the general zoning standards that would apply to the site if the property is rezoned. The following conditions have been offered by the applicant, negotiated and recommended by County staff: exterior building materials will be brick, stone/EIFS, with vinyl siding with a “hip” style shingle roof; a brick enclosure matching the brick on the store’s facade will be used to screen a dumpster area; the building height is designed to meet R-20 Residential standards and setbacks proposed are those of the RC district (greater side setback than that of residential districts); all exterior lighting will be full cut-off to reduce light pollution; a bike rack will be provided on-site to encourage alternative transportation to and from the convenience store; the canopy above the gas pumps will include a “hip” style shingle roof to complement the roof of the store; the two driveway cuts on Sulphur Springs Road will be reduced to one cut and the width of the driveway on Snow Creek Road will be reduced. Both are proposed to be properly curbed. Note: driveway permits must be approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation; a monument sign would be used for advertisement; and approximate store hours will be from 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Public water and sewer services are available at this location. According to the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Long Range Transportation Plan, both Sulphur Springs Road and Snow Creek Road are designated as minor thoroughfares. In 2009, the average daily traffic (ADT) count along Sulphur Springs Road was 5,900 vehicles per day (VPD) and 5,300 VPD north and south of the site, respectively. In 2009, the ADT count along Snow Creek Road to the west of the site was 3,800 VPD. There are no recommended improvements to either of these roads at this time.
The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area and the subject property is located in an area designated for residential use. Based on the Small Area Plan, the long standing use of the property, and the potential for non-conforming uses to continue to exist and even expand, staff considers this request to be inconsistent with the adopted land use plan but reasonable for consideration.
The Catawba County Planning Board held a public hearing on October 25, 2010, continued on November 1, 2010. The applicant was present, however no questions or concerns were brought forward. No one spoke in opposition to the request. By a vote of 5-0, the Planning Board recommended adoption of a statement acknowledging the inconsistency of the rezoning request with the St. Stephens Small Area Plan, but recognizing the reasonableness to rezone the property from R-20 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial-Conditional District based on the proposed conditions by which the applicant agrees to develop the property, the long-standing non-residential use (service station) of the property; and the opportunity to redevelop the existing property to meet current development standards.
C. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request by Berry and Julia Caldwell to rezone two parcels totaling 5.19 acres from HC Highway Commercial to R-20 Residential. The properties are located at 7804 and 7826 Highway 150 in the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning District. Parcels to the north and east are zoned R-20 Residential and have single-family residences. Two parcels to the south are zoned PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District and PD Planned Development District and are undeveloped. An additional parcel to the south is zoned R-30 Residential and currently occupied by a single-family residence. Two parcels to the west are zoned PD-CD Planned Development-Conditional District and undeveloped, and HC Highway Commercial and occupied by a single-family residence.
Generally, the R-20 Residential District is considered a medium-density residential and agricultural district. Permitted uses in the R-20 Residential District consist predominately of site-built homes and agricultural uses. The subject properties are located in a Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay (MUC-O) and WS-IV Critical Area. The R-20 Residential District permits a maximum density of two dwelling units per acre. The MUC-O restricts specific uses and provides for higher architectural standards and pedestrian amenities, and the WS-IV Critical Area limits the built upon area of commercial properties.
Public water is available along Highway 150, but public sewer is unavailable. Highway 150 East is designated as a “boulevard” in the 2035 Greater Hickory Urban Area Long Range Transportation Plan. This road is a major east-west route between Shelby, Lincolnton, and Mooresville and the State Transportation Improvement Plan contains plans for the widening of Highway 150 East to a multi-lane facility. The planning and design portion of the project is currently funded, although right-of-way acquisition and construction remain unfunded. Traffic counts taken in 2009 to the east and the west of the intersection of Highway 150 and Slanting Bridge Road measured 12,000 and 9,100, respectively.
The Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The plan designates approximately 750 acres as a “Village Center” at the intersection of Highway 150 and Sherrills Ford Road. The “Village Center” is envisioned by the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan as consisting of a mixture of commercial, office and residential uses.
The Catawba County Planning Board held a public hearing on October 25, 2010 and continued on November 1, 2010. The applicants were present, however no questions or concerns were brought forward during the hearing. No one spoke in opposition to the request. By a vote of 5-0, the Planning Board recommended the adoption of a statement affirming the consistency of the rezoning request with the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan and the rezoning of the properties from HC Highway Commercial to R-20 Residential based on the existing use of the properties being residential, the proximity of existing R-20 Residential properties, and the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan recognizing residential uses as a component of a Village Center.
CATAWBA VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER
The Board will consider entering into an interest rate cap agreement for 2009 bonds, issued on August 12, 2009 for the benefit of Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC). CVMC has requested that the County issue an additional $20-$25 million of revenue bonds for CVMC in December of 2010 to finance further expansion of CVMC’s facilities.
The 2010 bonds will be issued as fixed rate debt. As a pre-condition to issuing the 2010 Bonds, the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) has advised CVMC and the County that they need to enter into an interest rate cap to protect against upward interest rate fluctuations associated with variable interest rates on the 2009 Bonds. Under an interest rate cap, CVMC will pay an upfront fixed fee to a cap counterparty; and the counterparty will agree to make periodic payments to CVMC equal to the amount of interest payable on the 2009 Bonds, in excess of the cap rate. CVMC will pay the upfront fixed fee from CVMC revenues. After payment of that upfront fixed fee, neither CVMC nor the County will have any ongoing financial liability under the interest rate cap.
Since the County is the issuer of the 2009 Bonds, the County is a necessary party to the interest rate cap. Under current LGC policies, the County and CVMC must adopt an Interest Rate Cap Policy, which sets forth the general rules and guidelines the County and CVMC will follow with respect to interest rate caps including under what circumstances interest rate caps may or will be used, the methods by which interest rate caps will be solicited and procured, and certain general terms that may or will be included in the interest rate cap agreement. The Policy only applies to interest rate cap agreements related to debt incurred by the County for the benefit of CVMC. Under the Policy, an interest rate cap (or other interest rate protection agreement) must be kept in place on the 2009 Bonds while outstanding, unless prior consent of the LGC is obtained. Each respective interest rate cap agreement is subject to prior approval of the County before it can be put in place.
Under current LGC policies, an interest rate cap advisor must be retained. CVMC has hired Efficient Capital Corporation (ECC), which is on the LGC’s list of approved advisors, to serve as advisor on the interest rate cap on the 2009 Bonds. CVMC will pay ECC’s fee from CVMC revenues. CVMC has determined that an 8% interest rate cap on the 2009 Bonds, with a stated termination not later than August 12, 2014 which is the current expiration date of the BB&T Letter of Credit supporting the 2009 Bonds, is the most cost effective method to satisfy LGC requirements. The resolution authorizes the Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of CVMC to solicit and negotiate the terms of the interest rate cap agreement, subject to the stated limitations. The County’s Finance Director is authorized to file an application for the required LGC approval of the interest rate cap and execute and deliver the interest rate cap agreement on behalf of the County. Other designated representatives of the County are authorized to take any and all other actions necessary or advisable to put the interest rate cap on the 2009 Bonds in place. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends entering into this agreement and the adoption of the required resolution.
UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider exercising an early termination clause, to save $315,315 associated with contracts for methane gas service at the Blackburn and Newton Landfills with Catawba Landfill Gas, LLC and Newton Landfill Gas, LLC, and the appropriation of funds for compliance with new and increasing air quality regulations.
In 1998, Catawba County entered into a 15-year contract with Catawba Landfill Gas, LLC and Newton Landfill Gas, LLC to extract methane gas from closed landfill areas at the Blackburn and Newton Landfills, respectively. At that time, these contracts benefitted both the LLC and Catawba County, because the LLC qualified for energy tax credits and the County avoided an expense of $2.5 million in gas extraction infrastructure required by EPA regulations. The County used those funds to purchase GE Jenbacher engines currently in use to convert methane gas found in the landfills to create electricity. The existing contracts include an early termination clause that will result in net savings for the County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund of $315,315 and be beneficial to the current needs and future development options at the County’s EcoComplex by providing more operational flexibility and by bundling the existing operations of the EcoComplex for improved efficiency.
The continuing development of the EcoComplex will also necessitate 1) the relocation of the existing GE Jenbacher
generator units, 2) installation of new landfill gas wells and treatment equipment including infrastructure and monitoring equipment to meet new air quality regulations, and 3) the further expansion of landfill gas collection lines, and a blower and flare station. This work goes beyond the scope of the existing LLC contract. The early termination will allow for improved development compatibility for current and future EcoComplex components.
The existing 15-year agreements require the LLC to provide the following services until October 2013: extraction of methane gas; selling and delivering cleaned gas to the County; and construction, operation and maintenance of the landfill gas collection system and associated gas equipment at a cost of $130,000 annually for the Blackburn Landfill and $43,000 annually for the Newton Landfill. The early termination of the LLC contracts allows the County to meet future landfill gas management needs by performing and/or securing services from other providers that will be more inclusive of future landfill gas project needs that the existing LLC contracts cannot provide. Existing Solid Waste staff will assume the operations and maintenance duties of the LLC. Under the terms of the termination, the County may purchase from the LLC the above-ground portion of the gas collection system, at a fair market value purchase price. The early termination immediately returns ownership of the landfill gas rights back to the County and the below-ground portion of the gas collection system, currently owned by the LLC, will become County-owned.
During the course of the existing contract, certain improvements that the LLC was required to do have not been carried out. In establishing a fair buyout value, the County has taken these events into consideration. The cost for the work done by the County to satisfy these improvements has been used to adjust the final payment due to the LLC to establish a fair value for the contract buyout. The early termination cost is $415,000, which equates to the savings of $315,315 from the cost to continue the contract through October 2013.
Catawba County is required to submit various compliance-related reports for the Blackburn and Newton Landfills to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Air Quality (DAQ) on an annual basis. Additionally, effective on January 1, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require that greenhouse gas (GHG) sources be monitored and reported. These new GHG reporting requirements, which affect both the Blackburn and Newton Landfills, require increased monitoring measures; data collection; methane monitoring surface sweeps and reporting. Third party monitoring and assurance will be required to assist the County in meeting the constantly changing air quality rules and regulations. Staff has calculated that the new air quality regulations, combined with changes to existing compliance requirements, will cost approximately an additional $100,000 for Fiscal Year 2010-11. A budget revision to appropriate the additional funding is requested in the amount of $100,000. All costs associated with the landfill and solid waste activities are funded from the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, derived from solid waste tipping fees containing no ad valorem tax proceeds. The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends early termination of this contract and the appropriation of funds for compliance with the new and increasing air quality regulations.
COUNTY MANAGER’S REPORT
A. The Board will consider setting a meeting schedule for 2011. Scheduling a first meeting in January is traditionally difficult because accompanying subcommittee meetings fall during the week between Christmas and New Year. The first meeting in March falls during the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference so it is proposed that meeting be cancelled. The first meeting in July falls during the Fourth of July holiday week and the second July meeting falls during the National Association of Counties’ Annual Meeting, so it is proposed that a single July meeting be held on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 7 p.m. The August 15, 2011 meeting falls during Soldiers Reunion Week, so it would not be feasible for the Board to meet at its usual location, the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. The second meeting in September falls during the International City and County Management Association’s Annual Meeting, so it is proposed that there be only one September meeting, on September 12, 2011 at 7 p.m. Staff proposes budget hearings with departments for Tuesday, May 31, 2011, with a public hearing and wrap-up on the budget to be held on Thursday, June 2, 2011 and budget adoption scheduled for the Board’s June 6, 2011 meeting. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the following changes to the Board’s meeting schedule for 2011: 1) cancellation of the January 3, 2011 meeting and accompanying subcommittee session; 2) cancellation of the March 7, 2011 meeting and accompanying subcommittee meetings ; 3) cancellation of the July 4, 2011 meeting and accompanying subcommittee meetings and one July meeting on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 7 p.m. with no accompanying subcommittee meetings; 4) relocation of the August 15, 2011 meeting to the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center in Newton 5) cancellation of the September 6, 2011 meeting and accompanying subcommittee meetings, with one September meeting on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 7 p.m., with accompanying subcommittee meetings held on Tuesday, September 7, 2011. 6) scheduling of the Board’s annual breakfast meeting with Cooperative Extension Service staff for Monday, December 5, 2011 at 8 a.m.; and 7) the Board’s budget hearings with departments held on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, with a public hearing and wrap-up session beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, 2011. Budget adoption would be scheduled for the Board’s meeting at 9:30 a.m. on June 6, 2011.
B. The Board will consider setting its goals for Fiscal Year 2011-12. The setting of goals is a prelude to the start of the County’s annual budget process in December and culminates with the adoption of an annual budget in June. Board members individually submitted ideas for goals and the members were then asked to express a preference on ranking goals for 2011-12. Overwhelmingly the top two choices were current year goals dealing with a fiscally responsible budget with no tax increases and continuing strategies to create jobs. Priorities three and four were a continued emphasis on customer service and a push for completion of the new portions of Highway 16.
The Board’s proposed goals are:
1) Prepare a Fiscal Year 2011-2012 budget which maintains services and momentum as much as possible in light of economic uncertainty and no property tax increase. Examine planned investments and expenditures to ensure it is both a good time to build and a good time to borrow funds for building, and make sure we have the necessary funds to run required services such as health, safety and education. Plan for flat growth in tax revenues. Look at ways to be more efficient and see if the County could perform some services for the smaller municipalities in payroll, purchasing, etc., which could generate some revenue for the County and save money for the smaller municipalities. Continue to examine ways to reduce expenses in each department and ways to conserve energy where possible. Based on no to low growth in ad valorem and sales taxes, develop a priority list of capital improvement projects;
2) Continue strategies to create jobs through educational opportunities to make sure the workforce is trained for tomorrow’s jobs, and invest in infrastructure and development of the county’s quality of life. Remain aggressive in recruiting most favored industries to the area, and add an additional multi-jurisdictional business park. Look for out of the box ideas that others are not doing. Recruit industries that are related to existing industries and work with municipalities on economic development;
3) Continue customer service emphasis in all departments. Focus on communications efforts with citizens so citizens know what is going on in County government; and,
4)Work with the North Carolina Department of Transportation toward completion of North Carolina Highway 16.
The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends adoption of these goals.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464