PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2009, 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) proposed amendments to the Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that address home occupations, cottage businesses and new regulations for backyard businesses for the purpose of providing more opportunities and flexibility for small businesses operating in rural residential districts; and 2) a request to rename Trinity Church Road, located off Pittstown Road in southwest Catawba County, as Unity Church Road when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 2009, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will consider proposed County economic incentives for the Fiserv Inc., project, which would create 419 jobs at that Hickory business over the next three years. The incentives would not exceed $139,360, ($19,966 per year for seven years) with provisions for the County to be reimbursed if the investment and/or job creation amounts are not sustained.
The Board will also consider amendments to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance pertaining to rabies laws, to bring the ordinance in line with recent changes in State law, and approval of financing proposed by the Oxford Fire Protection Association for the purchase of a new pumper/tanker. There would be no financial obligation for the County, but the Board must approve the financing in order for the Oxford Fire Protection Association to receive a more favorable interest rate. The Board will consider appropriating funds from Duke Energy to help meet the County’s expenses for exercises, incidents and yearly training related to being prepared to respond to any incident at the McGuire Nuclear Station; a set of tax refunds; and approval of Board goals for fiscal year 2010-2011.
A. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request to rename a street. The Trustees of Unity Missionary Baptist Church submitted a request to rename Trinity Church Road, located off Pittstown Road in southwest Catawba County, as Unity Church Road. The Board submitted a petition signed by a majority of the adjoining property owners. Since the name of the church has recently changed from Trinity to Unity, it will be much easier to locate if the road name is again the same as the church’s name. This name is not duplicated and staff recommends approval of the renaming to Unity Church Road.
B. The Board will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the County’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The proposed amendments address home occupations, cottage businesses and new regulations for back yard businesses for the purpose of providing more opportunities and flexibility for small businesses operating in rural residential districts.
With the adoption of the UDO on February 5, 2007, the Board adopted a series of policies, one of which dealt with existing non-permitted businesses in residential districts. Staff felt it prudent to re-examine small business regulations within residential districts, due to the considerable number of small businesses currently operating in residential districts that cannot qualify under current home occupation or cottage business regulations. Over the last two years, the County has approved three large-scale conditional zoning projects. Based on that experience, it has become evident that applying conditional zoning criteria and development standards to small-scale, stand alone rural businesses is often inappropriate. It may be inconsistent with approved small area plans or an example of spot zoning. A stand alone small-scale business entity located on a residential lot generally cannot justify the expense associated with providing the County with a detailed site plan designed by a professional. Site improvements associated with conditional zoning, such as parking, landscaping, and buffering, are often difficult to accommodate given the physical constraints of an existing site.
Because small businesses have traditionally been allowed in residential districts, and given current conditions and future trends, staff is proposing modifications and additions to the UDO by now allowing health care professional services, lawn care, woodcarving, taxidermy, housekeeping and janitorial services as home occupations. No outside storage and/or display of product or services will be allowed, and the occupation cannot generate more than two customer vehicles at any given time, create a hazard to persons or property, or be a nuisance. Single-motor vehicles as identified in the ordinance, excluding trailers, associated with a home occupation are permitted to be parked or stored outside on the site of the home occupation. Only one commercial vehicle per employee, up to a maximum of three associated with the home occupation, are allowed to be parked or stored on the site of the home occupation and no more than two commercial vehicles associated with the business use are allowed to be parked or stored in the front or side yard.
Back yard businesses would be expanded to include home occupations as well as additional uses identified in the ordinance. Signage requirements are set forth in the ordinance and only one person is permitted to work on the site of the back yard business, other than those residing on the property. Back yard businesses established after the adoption of this amendment may be located in accessory structures which conform to the principal setbacks for the zoning district and may occupy an aggregate area equivalent to no more than 50% of the primary residence. If established prior to this amendment, they may be located within more than one accessory structure which conforms to the accessory structure setback for the zoning district, and are not subject to the limitation on square footage within the accessory structures. Any additional square footage associated with the business cannot exceed an aggregate area of more than 50% of the primary residence and would have signage requirements. Back yard businesses are not permitted in approved major subdivisions. All equipment, raw materials, machinery or future job units waiting for assembly or repair shall be stored within the back yard business structure. A manufactured home cannot be used as a detached back yard business. No outside display of product(s) is allowed. All back yard businesses shall have adequate land area to accommodate customer parking outside of public and private rights-of-way. Single motor vehicles, as identified in the ordinance, are permitted to be parked or stored outside, on the site of the back yard business and only one commercial vehicle per employee, up to a maximum of three associated with the back yard business, are allowed to be parked or stored on the site of the back yard business. No more than two commercial vehicles associated with the business use are allowed to be parked or stored in a front or side yard.
The UDO would continue to allow two non-resident employees for cottage businesses, and be expanded to allow uses that are allowed as a home occupation as well as additional uses identified in the ordinance. The area within the detached cottage business facility dedicated for business use may not exceed 75% of the principal residential square footage, and must meet the lot frontage requirements at the time the lot was created. Only one commercial vehicle per employee, up to a maximum of four associated with the cottage business, is allowed to be parked or stored on the site of the cottage business. No more than two commercial vehicles associated with the business use are allowed to be parked or stored in the front or side yard. The same single-motor vehicles without trailers that are allowed in back yard businesses and home occupations would be permitted and the Board of Adjustment may alter the parking area landscaping requirement based on, but not limited to, the location of the parking area, existing vegetation, and distances from adjacent properties, provided the existing vegetation meets or exceeds the requirements of Section 44-523(d).
Additional proposed amendments to the UDO address the Rural Preservation-Overlay (RP-O) and dimensional standards for the purpose of allowing additions to those structures made non-conforming when the Rural Preservation-Overlay District and external road setbacks were adopted. The RP-O and “external roads” setbacks were created for purposes of protecting the character and scenic by-ways of rural corridors located in Catawba County. External roads are generally defined as major, minor, collector, or arterial roads, within the North Carolina Department of Transportation maintenance system, along R-40 Residential. The standard established was a 100-foot setback for RP-O districts and 80-foot setbacks along external roads. Exceptions to the setback standard are allowed along both the RP-O and external roads for in-fill vacant lots which cannot accommodate well, septic, and a principal structure in conjunction with the 100 or 80-foot setback. When this condition exists, the exception would allow the principal structure to be sited at the average setback of other principal structures in the area in order to achieve uniformity. The proposed amendments would allow additions to non-conforming principal structures within the RP-O and along external roads, based upon a revised set of standards outlined in the ordinance.
These amendments would provide more flexibility while not diminishing the uniformity or character of the rural corridors due to the fact that, in many cases, these structures already exist and already occupy the line of sight.
Designing and implementing development standards that are environmentally responsible is a growing trend throughout the nation. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards being requested by the consuming public focus on limiting the impact of development on the environment and efficient use of energy. The proposed amendments regarding sidewalks, site appearance, parking standards, off-street parking, buffering and screening, and building design standards primarily address the external environment of a development site. The proposed regulations include options for reduction in impervious surfaces, alternative roof materials and design, and bicycle infrastructure; and require 10% (currently 20%) of the total parking to be compact parking when the parking area exceeds 10 spaces.
Over the years, a reoccurring complaint has centered on tractor-trailer rigs parked in residential and rural areas on-site and within any road right-of-way. The UDO partially addresses the issue, in that it states only that a tractor-trailer combination is prohibited from being stored or parked for more than 24 hours. The proposed amendments regarding parking of domestic, recreational and commercial vehicles clarify that trailers are prohibited in residential districts with the exception of loading and unloading for a 24-hour period. The new regulations also clarify that any commercial vehicle cannot be parked within twenty feet of any street line and five feet from any interior property lines. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles must be parked in the side or rear yard, five feet from any interior property line unless an existing well, septic tank, or drain field constraint exists. The amendment would also remove the setback requirements for domestic and recreational vehicles.
A number of commercial uses have frontage on the Catawba River or on one of the county’s lakes. Some of these uses, such as marinas and restaurants, depend on boat traffic as part of their customer base. Such uses would benefit from being able to advertise their business along the water front. The proposed amendments regarding on-premise signs for waterfront property would allow a second on-premise sign (with 32 sq. ft. surface area and maximum height of 7 feet) along the water front of commercial properties having frontage along Lake Hickory, Lake Lookout, Lake Norman, or the main stem of the Catawba River. Neon or LED signs are not permitted and only internal sign illumination and full cut-off downcast lighting is allowed, in order to limit light spillage onto neighboring properties.
The Use Matrix in the UDO contains a list of uses and the specific zoning districts in which those uses are permitted either by right, as an accessory use, or as a special use. The proposed amendment to the Use Matrix would clarify that college, university, and technical college is synonymous with technical schools. It would permit colleges, universities, and technical colleges in O-I Office-Institutional, RC Rural Commercial, HC Highway Commercial, LI Light Industrial, and GI General Industrial districts. Temporary uses/special events in all districts including R-30, R-20, R-15, R-12, R-10, and R-7 Residential districts would also be permitted, subject to supplemental standards defined in the Ordinance.
Staff met with the Land Use Development Board of the Chamber of Commerce on October 21, 2009 to discuss the proposed amendments. The Planning Board held a public hearing on October 26, 2009. No one spoke at the public hearing. The Planning Board voted 7-0 in favor of the proposed amendments and proposed three minor amendments and one suggested change for staff to review. The minor amendments would specify that a commercial vehicle (dump truck, box truck, etc.) shall be limited to a single motor vehicle without a towing unit (trailer); clarify that the front setback for additions in the Rural Preservation-Overlay and along external roads shall be calculated by taking an average setback for principal structures on both sides of the street, in both directions, for a distance of 1/4 mile; and allow the use of bio-retention basins or rain gardens as an alternative to installing impervious pavement when proposed parking would exceed the minimum number of required parking spaces. Staff agrees with these minor amendments. The Planning Board also suggested staff consider an objective way to define the number of commercial vehicles that could be parked on the site of a home occupation, back yard business, or cottage business.
A. The Board will consider adopting a resolution supporting Oxford Fire Protection Association, Inc. obtaining of tax exempt financing of an amount up to $250,000 for the purchase of a new pumper/tanker. This is not considered a financial obligation for the County. The Board must approve the financing in order for the Association to receive a more favorable interest rate. The Association plans to purchase a new 5 man, side mount pumper/tanker with custom Spartan chassis with a 1000 gallon tank and 1250 gallon per minute pump. The new truck would replace a 1983 gas pumper/tanker with a 1000 gallon per minute pump and 4 seat capacity. The new pumper/tanker has increased compartment space which will allow the department to carry additional equipment. The purchase of this new vehicle will enhance Oxford’s ability to provide fire protection services to its citizens due to the increased capabilities of this apparatus. The fire department will receive an interest rate of 4.34% on a 7 year loan as a result of tax-exempt financing, compared to a 6.8% interest without it. In March 2009, Oxford Fire Department requested $91,966 of available fund balance for the purchase of this vehicle. The remaining cost of the vehicle is to be financed. Oxford Fire Department has set aside approximately $10,000 per year for the last two years for this purchase. A required public hearing was held by the fire department on October 28. No public opposition to the financing was presented. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends adoption of this resolution.
B. The Board will consider appropriating funding received from Duke Energy beyond Emergency Services’ budgeted amount of $20,000. Catawba County Emergency Services receives funding each year from Duke Energy for use during McGuire exercises, incidents and yearly training, as Catawba County is one of the Fixed Nuclear Facility counties for the McGuire Nuclear Station. The annual funding from Duke Energy is derived from a requested budget submitted by Emergency Services and fluctuates from year to year based on need. Duke Energy approved the requested budget of $46,010, which exceeds the County’s budgeted amount of $20,000. Included in the increase was $10,000 of additional funding to purchase a walk-through radiation detection device and hand-held radiation detection devices designed to detect radiation at a distance. Duke Energy also approved $10,000 in additional funding to support the Community Alert System because of its usefulness in alerting citizens of needed actions during a nuclear event. Duke Energy also recognized the importance of educating citizens about programs available to them during disasters and approved $6010 to increase public education and awareness, and improve outreach to vulnerable populations. The Board’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends appropriating these additional funds.
C. The Board will consider two tax refund requests totaling $81,809.78. Records have been checked and these refunds verified and the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund requests. According to North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund (in writing) for an amount that was paid through error.
The Board will consider adopting amendments to the Catawba County Animal Control Ordinance pertaining to rabies laws, to bring the ordinance in line with recent changes in State law. On October 1, 2009, Senate Bill 674 went into effect. The act amends the Rabies Laws to conform to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians to allow stray or feral animals to be euthanized and tested for rabies after biting a human. As a result of changes to portions of North Carolina General Statute 130A, minor changes are needed to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance. The changes involve sections 6-3, 6-27, 6-29, 6-30, and 6-31.
The major changes affecting the public are as follows: 1) The inclusion of ferrets to the list of animals that need to be vaccinated against rabies; 2) A change in the length of time required by a pet owner to ensure a vaccinated animal receives a rabies booster. The current ordinance states 72 hours. The new recommendation is five days; 3) A change in the length of time for an animal to be considered vaccinated. The current ordinance states three weeks. The new recommendation is 28 days. The changes are required to ensure the County’s ordinance reflects the changes to the North Carolina General Statutes and ensure the safety of the public. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the adoption of these amendments to the County’s Animal Control Ordinance.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Board will consider proposed County economic incentives for the Fiserv Inc., project, which would create 419 jobs at that Hickory business over the next three years. Fiserv Inc., a Fortune 500 financial services company founded in 1984, currently employs 20,000 people in 250 locations worldwide. The company is a technology provider to banks, credit unions and financial institutions with more than 16,000 clients worldwide.
Fiserv proposes to lease the Adevco spec building in Hickory and up-fit the facility to add equipment, furniture and fixtures, with a total new capital investment of approximately $4,975,000. Fiserv plans to create a minimum of 419 new jobs with a full benefits plan (medical, dental, health care and dependent care reimbursement accounts, life and accidental death insurance, and short and long-term disability insurance, employee stock purchase plan, 401K with company matching and profit sharing, and educational assistance). A minimum of forty jobs will pay wages that are above the average wage requirement in Catawba County. The remaining employees will earn a minimum of 110% of the estimated hourly entry wage for all Catawba County occupations as reported by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. The Hickory center would supply technical support, customer management and processing services, and payments to business customers such as banks and credit unions. Fiserv plans to be operational in February 2010 with 279 new employees by the end of 2010. Seventy two employees would be added by the end of 2011 with 68 additional employees by the end of 2012.
Based on the condition of a total new investment of $4,975,923 and the creation of 419 new jobs with 40 jobs paying at or above Catawba County’s average wage as determined by the NC Department of Commerce, and adhering to all North Carolina general statutes, a proposed County incentive would be in the form of a performance based grant with a maximum payment of $19,966 per year for 7 years (total maximum incentive of $139,360) upon approval of a contract and the satisfaction of conditions of that contract. The incentive amount was derived by determining the guaranteed investment and the subsequent income stream to the County over a seven year period, then multiplying that figure by 75%. The ad valorem tax receipts on $4,975,923 equal $185,813 over seven years. This investment will net a positive payback to the County immediately, similar to paybacks used to determine grant involvement in other county projects. As with all incentives provided by the County, these incentives will be based on a contractual performance agreement which requires Fiserv to meet minimum thresholds of investment and job creation each year prior to incentive payment by the County. The agreement would require repayment of the incentives should the investment and/or job creation amounts not be sustained for the entire seven years of the agreement and an additional 21 months beyond that period of time.
The Board will consider a set of goals for fiscal year 2010-2011. Following polling of individual Board members to determine which goals should be pursued, the Board will consider approving the following goals:
1. Prepare a Fiscal Year 2010-2011 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.
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.
3. Continue to develop and build the EcoComplex at the landfill and promote the EcoComplex for environmental and economic development purposes.
4. Continue customer service emphasis in all departments. Focus on communications efforts with citizens so citizens know what is going on in County government.
5. Continue strategies to protect our environmental resources through active involvement in the IBT litigation/
resolution and as members on air quality boards and commissions.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464