PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2007, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, NC
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider the adoption of a resolution instituting a one quarter cent sales and use tax approved by voters on November 6, 2007 and a resolution asking the North Carolina General Assembly to increase the income levels for the Homestead Exemption for seniors in Catawba County; and will hold public hearings on 1) a request to rezone a 1.83 acre parcel, located at 5121 Honest Bob Road in the Balls Creek Small Area Planning District, from R-40 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial-Conditional District; 2) a request to include twelve parcels totaling 35.28 acres, located along George Hildebran Road and RH Road in the Mountain View Small Area Planning District, in a Doublewide Manufactured Home-Overlay District, and 3) proposed amendments to the County’s Unified Development Ordinance regarding height restrictions on certain structures and requirements related to wireless facilities, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 19, 2007, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Board will also consider accepting a grant for the purchase of bulletproof vests for the Sheriff’s Office; the awarding of contracts for a Voice Over Internet E911 phone system and construction of a new lined landfill cell at the Blackburn Landfill; a revision to the Mental Health budget; and a proclamation recognizing Home Health Month.
RECOGNITION OF SPECIAL GUESTS
The Board will consider adopting a resolution to levy a one-quarter cent county sales and use tax, effective April 1, 2008, as authorized by North Carolina General Statute 105-537. In accordance with that statute, a referendum on the question of whether to levy a local sale and use tax was held on November 6, 2007, and the majority of persons voting voted in favor of the levy of the tax.
Following that deliberation, the Board will recognize Mr. Larry Bowman, Chairman of the Catawba County Citizens For Tax Fairness, who will make a presentation.
The Board will consider a resolution asking the North Carolina General Assembly to increase the income levels for the Homestead Exemption in Catawba County. The Board is expected to express its continuing concern that the tax burden on elderly residents has become overwhelming to this segment of the population on fixed and limited incomes. Through its authority from the State to utilize the Homestead Exemption for persons at least 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled, Catawba County currently excludes about $60 million in property value each year from taxation, equating to about $321,000 in revenue. House Bill 1449, signed by NC Governor Mike Easley on August 30, 2007, increased the 2008 income threshold for those eligible for the exemption from $21,200 to $25,000 and the exclusion amount from the greater of $20,000, or 50% of the value of the property, to the greater of $25,000 or 50% of the value of the property. The Board desires to further reduce the tax burden on Catawba County’s seniors through a increase in the Homestead Exemption and has received over 800 expressions of support for this effort. The resolution will request that Catawba County’s delegation to the North Carolina General Assembly “aggressively pursue” an increase in the North Carolina Homestead Exemption income threshold from $25,000 to $35,000.
The Board will issue a proclamation declaring November as Home and Hospice Care Month in Catawba County, to recognize that in-home health, hospice, and community-based services provide for an individual’s health and social needs throughout life. This care serves expectant mothers, infants, children, adults, the disabled and elderly; provides love, comfort and support at the end of life; and enables North Carolina’s citizens to access a wide variety of quality health and social services, provided by home health agencies, licensed home care agencies, hospice agencies, adult day care, adult day health care facilities, and home medical equipment companies.
A. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request of Mr. Glenn Fulbright to rezone a 1.83 acre parcel located at 5121 Honest Bob Road in the Balls Creek Small Area Planning District, from R-40 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial – Conditional District. The subject parcel is currently occupied by a business that produces erosion and sedimentation control products, and this is the intent for the property if rezoned. Parcels to the north, south and east are zoned R-40 Residential, with one vacant and the rest occupied by single-family residences.
A RC-CD district is generally governed by the dimensional, design and intensity standards of the Rural Commercial general use district. Such requirements limit developments within the RC-CD district to a maximum floor area ratio of 1:5. The parcel size of 1.83 acres (79,714 square feet) would allow a floor area of 15,942 square feet. The main building and storage areas are approximately 5,944 square feet, well within what is allowed.
An existing business (C&K Erosion Control Products) was established on the parcel around 1997. The site plan shows the existing main building used to assemble products, storage areas for materials, and parking areas for employees and equipment. The use is not visible from East Maiden Road or from points along the majority of Honest Bob Road. The existing facility is served by a private well and septic system.
The Balls Creek Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The plan recommended that the future use of this parcel be low-density residential, one dwelling per two acres. The business use of the property would generally be viewed as inconsistent with the small area plan. However, the potential approval of the proposed rezoning would provide for the proper zoning of the property, reflecting the current and long-standing business usage, and the conditional zoning would limit the use and future uses to those approved through the conditional zoning process. The use of conditional zoning to achieve higher standards in the overall design of commercial projects aids in accomplishing several of the recommendations and guiding principles of the Balls Creek Small Area Plan related to commercial development, including landscaped areas along road frontage, buffering of commercial uses from residential areas, and a focus on quality, community-oriented business. All of these standards have already been met by the existing business.
Staff recommended adoption of a statement affirming the consistency of the rezoning request with the Balls Creek Small Area Plan, and the rezoning of the property from R-40 Residential to RC-CD, based on the purpose of the RC-CD district and the higher standards placed on the development through the conditional zoning process. The Catawba County Planning Board conducted a public hearing on October 29, 2007. The applicant was the only person who spoke concerning this request. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the rezoning of the property from R-40 Residential to RC-CD Rural Commercial-Conditional District, based on the conditions cited above.
B. The Board will hold a public hearing on a request of multiple applicants to include twelve parcels totaling 35.28 acres, located along George Hildebran Road and RH Road in the Mountain View Small Area Planning District, within the Doublewide Manufactured Home-Overlay (DWMH-O) district. Five parcels to the north, six to the south, one to the east and one to the west are currently zoned R-40 Residential, with the majority occupied by single-family residences. One parcel is vacant, two are currently unable to be built upon and one is vacant and being used for agricultural purposes. The subject parcels are zoned R-40 Residential, with seven currently occupied by single-family residences. One has a deteriorating structure on it and four are properties not yet built upon. An additional parcel, not included in this request, zoned R-40 Residential and currently occupied by a single-family residence, is surrounded by all of the properties to be included in the DWMH-O district and staff recommended it also be included in the request.
The Catawba County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Section 44-432, Doublewide Manufactured Home – Overlay (DWMH-O) “establishes a class A doublewide or multi-section overlay district to provide opportunities for the sitting of affordable housing, implement small area plan policies regarding the location of manufactured homes, and comply with the requirements of North Carolina General Statutes 153A-341.1”. An overview of the R-40 Residential District is noted under Item A, above.
Samantha Lowman, one of the applicants, met with County staff to discuss including only one parcel in the DWMH-O district. After discussing the concept of spot zoning with the applicant and the difficulties associated with small area rezoning requests, additional applications were received, bringing the total number of parcels in the request to twelve. The properties proposed to be included in the DWMH-O total 35.28 acres in size. Including the one parcel that is surrounded by all the requesting parcels would bring the acreage to 36.5 acres. The current R-40 Residential District (which allows one dwelling per acre) would not permit any doublewide manufactured homes on eleven of the parcels. One of the parcels has an existing singlewide that could be switched out to a doublewide as a matter of right. If the properties were included in a DWMH-O with a total of 35.28 acres, if the existing uses were removed, and if the property was further subdivided, 25 to 35 doublewide manufactured homes could be placed in this area. The number of lots would depend on right-of-way locations, lot dimensions, density, soil suitability and topography. If the properties were not further subdivided, approximately six doublewides could be placed in the area by right. Approval of this proposed DWMH-O overlay district would not allow a manufactured home park (MHP) and does not reach the level of density associated with a MHP (1 dwelling per 12,000 square feet or approximately 127 spaces on 35.28 acres).
The Mountain View Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. Guiding principles in the plan include providing for the location of manufactured homes and encouraging housing options for people in all stages of life. The plan recommends manufactured homes be directed to R-2 districts. When the plan was adopted, this area was in an R-2 district and would have remained in the R-2 district. Therefore, the request does not appear to deviate from the recommendations of the Plan. While the request is inconsistent with the County Overlay Zoning Map approved on February 6, 2007, staff determined the request is reasonable for consideration, based on the size of the area associated with the request and the recommendations and guiding principles in the small area plan. It does not change the current R-40 zone; it only adds an overlay zone that would allow doublewide manufactured homes at the property owner’s option. Staff noted that if the DWMH-O district is applied to this area, a significant number of similar requests could follow.
Staff recommended adoption of a statement regarding the consistency of this request with the Mountain View Small Area Plan and that the Board consider applying the DWMH-O district to the area based on 1) the request being consistent with the guiding principles and recommendations of the Mountain View Small Area Plan as noted in the previous paragraph; (2) the DWMH-O district's providing maximize home ownership choices in a rural area of the county adjacent to rural areas of Burke County; and (3) since the area requested for the DWMH-O district is in a portion of the county outside of any major corridors identified for restricted use of manufactured homes in the UDO and Zoning Map Amendment process.
The Catawba County Planning Board conducted a public hearing on October 29, 2007. Fourteen citizens spoke during the public hearing. Four spoke in favor of the request, while nine spoke in opposition. Those speaking in favor cited the benefit of the rezoning for the applicants, allowing them to place a doublewide on their property as a "starter home", and that the applicants deserved a right to start a family in their own home. Those in opposition cited an opinion that doublewides are not in keeping with the Mountain View community; were opposed to mobile homes in the area and did not believe they were in the best interest of the community; believed property values would decrease; were opposed to all thirteen tracts being included in the DWMH-O overlay district; and believed the area should retain its rural culture. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Commissioners deny the request based on surrounding property owners being in opposition to the request; the possibility of decreasing the value of “stick-built” homes in the area; and the inconsistency of the request with the County Overlay Zoning Map approved on February 6, 2007.
C. The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to Table 44-404-1, Dimensional Standards, and Section 44-404(h) Height, of the Catawba County UDO. The purpose of the amendment is to modify height restrictions on certain structures which, because of their iconic nature and/or historical attributes, or due to their functional requirements, need greater height allowances. Structures proposed to be exempt from height requirements include: fire, rescue and law enforcement facilities; prison facility guard towers; schools; hospitals; government buildings; and churches/synagogues and places of worship that apply for and qualify for tax exempt status with the County. The amendment would increase the maximum allowable height to 70 feet for churches/synagogues and places of worship that apply for and qualify for tax exempt status with the County. Steeples and belfries that project above the total height of the structure would be allowed to reach a height equal to that of the worship structure. The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed amendment on October 29, 2007. No one spoke during the public hearing. The Planning Board voted 8-1 to recommend approval of the proposed amendment.
D. The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to Sec. 44-620, Public Use Facility, of the UDO.
The purpose of the amendment is to reduce front, side and rear setback requirements for public use facilities and clarify parcel perimeter buffer requirements. Public use facilities (i.e. law enforcement, fire stations, municipal buildings, community centers, etc.) are located throughout the county. As the county grows in population, several of these facilities will need to be enlarged or relocated to adequately serve the public. Since enlarging a current facility may be more cost-effective than building a new structure, and many of these facilities may not have the land area needed to expand, the UDO was re-examined to determine if 50 foot front, rear and side setbacks were necessary. The proposed amendment would reduce side and rear setbacks to 35 feet to allow for expansion of these type of facilities on an existing parcel. Along with the setbacks, the UDO currently requires a 15 foot buffer, which could be filled with appropriate vegetation or a 6 foot opaque structure, such as a solid masonry wall or solid fence. The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed amendments on October 29, 2007. No one spoke during the hearing. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed amendment.
E. The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to Sec. 44-685, Wireless Facilities, of the UDO. This amendment, which would be effective on December 1, 2007, would comply with modifications to North Carolina General Statutes 153A-349.50 through 349.53, which address wireless communication facilities, and will be effective on December 1, 2007. The modified North Carolina statute states that local governments may no longer ask tower owners/builders or service providers for data perceived as information pertaining to a wireless company’s business decisions. The UDO currently requires those wanting to construct new towers to prove a need for the facility through propagation studies. The County’s intent was to prevent the degradation of area aesthetics due to a proliferation of unneeded towers. The County can no longer require proof of need as a requirement to obtain a special use permit to build the tower; however, it is still important to prevent the construction of “multiple spec” towers, which may or may not ever be used. Local governments must issue a special use permit, but may condition approval on the existence of a provider that will locate on the tower, and that the tower will be constructed within 24 months. According to the proposed UDO amendment, the special use permit will be issued, but a “hold” will be put on the permit to prohibit construction starting before a contract is submitted, ensuring a service provider will locate on the tower within 60 days of tower construction. If the tower is not constructed within 24 months, the special use permit would become null and void. The County’s UDO currently requires propagation studies from those requesting to co-locate on existing towers or structures, in order to prevent higher spaces from being filled when wireless coverage objectives could be met by locating on a lower position of the tower. The County’s intent was to eliminate the need for additional towers. Under the modified State statute, the County can no longer use propagation studies to require service providers to locate on a particular space of the tower. While service providers do not have to prove a need to locate on an existing tower or structure, the modified State statute and the proposed UDO amendment requires that existing facilities be co-located, as opposed to constructing a new tower, if “reasonably feasible”.
The proposed amendment would exempt State and Federal entities, with restrictions, and non-profit fire and rescue departments in coordination with the County’s 911 emergency operations and address environmental concerns associated with lighting and guyed towers. Since consultant costs will be included in permit fees under the amended State statute, the amendment to the Catawba County UDO would revise the County's fee schedule to reflect a co-location and modification review fee of between $1500 and $10,000; change a new tower construction fee from $5000 to $13,500, and delete a recertification fee of $250. The Catawba County Planning Board held a public hearing on the proposed amendment on October 29, 2007. No one spoke at the hearing. The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed amendment.
A. The Board will consider accepting a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance in the amount of $3341.53 to purchase bulletproof vests. Funding for twenty-seven vests was originally requested, but the grant received will only cover a 50% match for about fourteen vests. Matching funds in the amount of $5000 were allocated in the Narcotics Seized Funds Account during the fiscal year 2007-08 County budget process, as required under the conditions of the grant.
B. The Board will consider a request from the Mental Health Services Board of Directors to revise the current Mental Health budget by $1,804,856, bringing it to a total of $21,631,452. This revision adds no new positions and requests no additional County funding. New State funds, allocated to the Mental Health Trust Fund in the amount of $746,383, would be used as follows: $236,400 would be used to strengthen crisis services designed to decrease admissions to State facilities, as follows: $9,000 for an Easter Seals contract, $20,000 for a contract with the Sheriff’s Office to provide transportation to facility-based crisis services, $74,600 for an additional nursing position at Catawba Valley Medical Center to assist in the triage of consumers seeking crisis services, $50,000 to support indigent care for inpatients at Frye Regional Medical Center and $82,800 for enhancement of emergency and mobile crisis services through Catawba Valley Behavior Healthcare. $121,700 would be used to strengthen substance abuse services as follows: $72,570 for The Cognitive Connection, an outpatient substance abuse provider, and $49,130 to Exodus Homes, which provides a safe housing alternative that ensures a sense of stability. $98,200 would be used for services to clients with traumatic brain injuries, and $290,083 would support programs and services at the local level to serve individuals residing in State mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse service institutions. Local funds in the amount of $17,443, received from the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, would be used for substance abuse treatment.
Based on current contract commitments and increased service demands, additional funds are being appropriated for Medicaid Contract services in the amount of $800,000. The Local Managing Entity (LME) is only billing Therapeutic Foster Care and Target Case Management for providers. Due to a one year interlocal agreement that created a partnership for the provision of mental health services in Catawba and Burke counties, the Catawba LME has received an additional $3608 to support Burke’s County share funds, bringing the total Fiscal Year 2007/08 County share participation to $147,000. Mental Health Services of Catawba County has received additional LME Systems Management Funding in the amount of $212,422, due to the impact of adjustments made to the LME cost model, which will be used to appropriately meet staffing requirements and operational needs. Lastly, Mental Health Fund Balance in the amount of $25,000 would be appropriated for Catawba Youth Services, an area provider, to assist with startup costs to create an adult family care home, which will assist with housing needs of young adults, aged 19-22, who have aged out of the system used with children.
A. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY/COMMUNICATIONS
The Board will consider awarding a contract for a Voice Over Internet (VoIP) E911 phone system to Wireless Communications Inc. of Charlotte, NC in the amount of $293,848.97. A County lease for the current E-911 phone system expired in September. The new system will move the County’s Communications Center further toward being Next Generation 911 (NG911) compliant. NG911 moves from a strictly voice based system to a data based system and will allow for text messaging and the transfer of data, from sources such as OnStar, directly to emergency vehicles. The replacement of the current phone system to VoIP is the first step in moving to NG911. Procurement of information technology goods and services is authorized under North Carolina General Statute 143-129.8, which authorizes local governments to use a Request For Proposal procedure that offers more flexibility than a formal invitation for bid. The statute provides a more relaxed standard for awarding contracts, allowing a local government to choose a contract that best meets its needs and negotiate with any vendor to obtain a contract that offers the best solution for that government.
In order to preserve the confidentiality of proposals during the evaluation and negotiation process, proposals are not subject to public inspection until a contract is awarded. On September 23, 2007, four proposals were received from the following companies: InterAct Public Safety Systems, Winston-Salem, NC for a Zetron CPE E911 Solution; MicroData, St. Johnsbury, VT for a microDATA X-Solution; Embarq, Hickory, NC for a Sentinel Patriot E911 System and Positron Public Safety System; and Wireless Communications, Inc., Charlotte, NC for a Sentinel Patriot E911 System.
After a review of the proposals, staff recommended the contract be awarded to Wireless Communications, Inc. The other proposed systems either did not meet County specifications, have not been in service for a long enough period of time to have a proven track record, or were not recommended due to system and servicing costs. Wireless Communications, Inc. proposed a Sentinel Patriot E911 System which meets County specifications and is the best solution based on system, service and costs. Wireless Communications is a proven vendor for Catawba County, has provided radio communications systems in the past, and currently maintains the County’s radio system. Staff is also requesting funding in the amount of $15,403.33 for an additional Command Post portable answering position. This will provide additional answering capacity for the Communications Center and allow for an answering position in the Mobile Emergency Operations Center or any location in which IP-based communication can be established. The Board of Commissioners' Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends awarding the contract to Wireless Communications in the amount of $293,852.30.
B. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
The Board will consider awarding a bid , in the amount of $3,951,280, for construction of the Blackburn MSW Subtitle D Landfill, Unit 3, Phase 1 to Shamrock Environmental Corporation of Browns Summit, NC, and the approval of a contract for construction administration services to McGill Associates, PA of Hickory, NC in the amount of $124,900.
In accordance with State law and in keeping with Catawba County’s rich history of environmental awareness, Catawba County began using Subtitle D Landfill cells in 1998. These cells use a specially developed plastic liner, under areas where solid waste is being deposited, to collect and control liquid runoff from within the solid waste. Catawba County is continuing this process by moving to the construction of a third five-year Subtitle D Landfill cell at the Blackburn Landfill Facility.
Seven bids for construction of the Subtitle D Landfill Unit 3, Phase 1, were received on October 25, 2007, as follows: Shamrock Environmental, $3,951,280; New Dominion Construction, $3,989,264.65; Cooper, Barnett, & Page, $4,550,895.04; Clary Hood, Inc., $4,734,948; T&K Construction, LLC, $4,833,823; Morgan Corporation, $5,167,285.57 and Phillips & Jordan, Inc., $5,511,345.40.
McGill Associates reviewed the bids for accuracy and completeness. The lowest base bid was submitted by Shamrock Environmental Corporation, in the amount of $3,951,280. Shamrock Environmental is appropriately licensed and capable of performing the work. The company has extensive experience in landfill construction, and information provided on previous projects indicates it adhered to project budgets and schedules. McGill Associates contacted owners of previously completed landfill projects and construction quality assurance consultants for references. All comments received were positive and McGill Associates recommended the contract be awarded to Shamrock Environmental.
Construction administration services coordinates the owner, contractors and sub-contractors associated with a project, conducts monthly progress meetings, observes the progress and quality of the work performed, and approves shop drawings, tests results, pay requests, and other situations that may arise. County staff recommended approval of a contract with McGill Associates for construction administration services. Funding for the project is included in the Solid Waste Management 2007/08 budget; therefore no new appropriations are needed. All costs associated with this project are funded from the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, which is derived from solid waste tipping fees containing no tax proceeds. The Board’s Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends approval of the awarding of the bid for construction of the Blackburn MSW Subtitle D Landfill, Unit 3, Phase 1 to Shamrock Environmental Corporation, in the amount of $3,951,280, and approval of a contract for construction administration services on this project to McGill Associates in the amount of $124,900.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464