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NOVEMBER 19, 2012
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, November 19, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, 1924 Courthouse
30 North College Avenue, Newton, NC
1. Call to Order
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
4. Approval of the minutes from the Board’s Regular Meeting of November 5, 2012
5. Recognition of Special Guests
6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda
8. Public Hearings:
10. Departmental Reports:
11. Other Items of Business
12. Attorneys’ Report
13. Manager’s Report
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 828-465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. Access to the 1924 Courthouse for individuals with disabilities is at the south side (“A” Street). The elevator is located at the north end of the building. Participation in public meetings is without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, color, or disability.
INFOTALK/INTERNET: The Catawba County Telephone Information System will allow you to use your touch tone telephone to obtain current information on Catawba County 24 hours a day. Information is updated on a regular basis. Dial 465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at http://www.catawbacountync.gov.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2012, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold four public hearings on 1) a proposed amendment to the County’s Official Overlay Zoning Map which would reduce portions of the Economic Development Overlay District, and an amendment to the County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO); 2) a proposed amendment to the County’s Official Overlay Zoning Map which would eliminate the Rural Preservation Overlay District from seven roads, and an amendment to the UDO; 3) a proposed amendment to the UDO eliminating the requirement that all non-conforming manufactured home parks make road and landscaping improvements; and 4) to receive citizen input on development of a Catalyst Community Development Block Grant, which would be used to make emergency repairs to thirty very low and low income homes in Catawba County, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 19, 2012, at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
The Board will also consider a proposed set of amendments and revisions to Chapter 32 of the Catawba County Code of Ordinances, Solid Waste Management; the refinancing of County debt on the expansion of the County Jail, at a lower interest rate that will save the County $850,000 over thirteen years; and a meeting schedule for the Board for 2013. And the Board will receive an update on the Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic held July 27 and 28 to provide dental care to area residents who do not have adequate dental care.
The ED-O was created on the basis of the 321 Corridor District Plan boundary adopted in 1996. One of the purposes of the ED-O district is to preserve the character of the 321 Corridor through higher standards for nonresidential development. One of the Eco-Tech Development Plan’s strategies called for reduction of the ED-O boundaries to match the new plan boundaries. Justification for reducing the original ED-O boundaries is based on the fact that the great majority of area on the east and west side of the 321 Corridor is developed and zoned residential. The ED-O does not affect the use of residential properties. The properties along Highway 127 to the northwest side of the corridor are within a Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay as well as the original ED-O boundaries, which are redundant restrictions. Reducing the ED-O boundaries would not remove the Highway 127 properties from the Mixed Use Corridor-Overlay.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on October 29, 2012, to consider the request. There were several questions from the public regarding the area of the overlay to be removed, how the Economic Development-Overlay affected residential property, and if removing the overlay would make it easier for property to be zoned for commercial use. There was also a concern about manufacturing and noise levels in the Sigmon Dairy Road area. One citizen commented that removing redundant regulations is reasonable. The Planning Board voted 8-0 to recommend that the Board of Commissioners adopt this proposed amendment.
B. The Board will conduct a public hearing and receive citizen comments regarding a proposed amendment to Section 44-703(d)(1) of the UDO to eliminate the requirement that all non-conforming manufactured home parks comply with the following standards, to the extent feasible, within five years of the effective date of the UDO, which was February 6, 2007: installation of perimeter and road frontage landscaping and paving of all roads within manufactured homes parks including turnaround areas and speed bumps. This request is being introduced because it is not consistent with regulations for other types of nonconforming uses.
On March 18, 1996, the County adopted appearance criteria for manufactured homes and development standards (landscaping and paving) for any new manufactured home parks. As a result of the new appearance criteria, 25 manufactured home parks existing at that time became nonconforming. The 1996 standards did not require those existing manufactured home parks to come into compliance over any set period of time. For the next 11 years, manufactured home parks were treated like any other nonconforming use in the zoning ordinance.
When the UDO was adopted, Section 44-703(d)(1) required nonconforming manufactured home parks to make the improvements listed above within five years from the date on which the ordinance went into effect. These requirements differed from the regular treatment of other nonconforming uses. In 2007, when the new regulations went into effect, there were 23 remaining non-conforming parks. Of those 23 parks, 16 have not fully complied with the criteria listed above. All 23 parks are at least 17 years old and several have existed for more than 30 years. Several of the park owners have expressed an interest in closing down their parks over time and are not interested in expanding their facilities. Others have indicated that installing the improvements would create a financial hardship and hasten park closures.
Since the UDO was adopted, no additional manufactured home parks have been developed in the County. Only three conforming manufactured home parks were built between 1996 and 2007. If the current regulations are fully enforced, a significant number of renters, leasees and manufactured home owners would possibly have to relocate, creating a hardship due to the fact there are limited relocation options. Singlewide and doublewide manufactured homes meeting the County’s appearance criteria are permitted in any manufactured home park.
Singlewide and doublewide manufactured homes not meeting the appearance criteria are permitted in any of the 23 nonconforming parks, but not in conforming parks (three parks established after March 18, 1996). Of the 23 nonconforming manufactured home parks, two are located in the Doublewide Manufactured Home-Overlay district. The overlay district is the only area where new parks (subject to rezoning, connection to public water, and development standards) can be established. By eliminating the criteria expressed above, nonconforming manufactured home parks would be treated similar to other nonconforming uses, which were “grandfathered” when the UDO was approved.
The current development/appearance standards (perimeter landscaping, public water connectivity, requirement of recreation/open space) for manufactured home parks exceed those of residential subdivisions. Adding further standards doesn’t seem beneficial as it adds increased restrictions to a use that is in decline due to market conditions and the limitation of new location opportunities. The Planning Board held a public hearing on October 29, 2012. One person spoke in favor of the request. He shares ownership of a nonconforming park, and has made landscaping and paving improvements. He felt the amendment continues to provide options for those who reside in manufactured homes. The Planning Board voted 8-0 to recommend that the Board of Commissioners adopt this amendment.
C. The Board will conduct a public hearing and receive citizen comments regarding a proposed amendment to Section 44-435(8) of the UDO, which would eliminate the following roads and/or portions thereof from the 100-foot front setback requirement within the Rural Preservation-Overlay (RP-O):
• Startown Road (SR 1005) north of Settlemyre Bridge Road (SR 1165) to the County’s planning jurisdiction and south of NC Highway 10 to U.S. Highway 321;
This request is intended to reduce the front setback standard to the general setback along these seven roads, which are considerably developed, in zoning districts which provide for high density development and are served by public water.
One of the purposes of the RP-O was to protect the rural character and scenic viewshed corridors by requiring new construction to be setback 100 feet from the right-of-way. The front setback of the underlying zoning district would still apply.
Justification for removing the seven roads or road segments from the RP-O 100-foot setback requirement is based on 1) a significant pattern of development, shown by an average of 40% of the lots having structures within the 100-foot setback, compromising the rural character and scenic viewsheds; 2) all the roads recommended to be removed from the RP-O 100-foot setback, except for Sigmon Dairy Road, have water utilities installed to accommodate higher density; and 3) all roads recommended to be removed from the RP-O 100-foot setback are zoned R-20 (with a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet, 1/2 acre) or R-30 (with a minimum lot size of 30,000 square feet, 1/3 acre) which promotes and encourages high and medium density development.
The Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan was the first to recommend preserving the rural corridor with setback buffers. Each of the additional six small area plans adopted a similar recommendation. No organized group outside the individual Small Area Plan Steering Committees promoted this strategy or participated in the drafting of language that eventually was included in the UDO.
The Planning Board held a public hearing on October 29, 2012, to consider this request. Three people spoke in favor of removing the overlay from the proposed roads to eliminate restrictions which could interfere with their ability to expand existing structures or build new structures. One of the three requested that the Board consider removal of the overlay from Highway 16 in addition to the seven proposed roads. Five people spoke in favor of keeping the overlay in place, with stated reasons including protecting rural character and that the setback offers additional buffer between existing development and roadway expansion. The Planning Board voted 6-2 to recommend that the Board of Commissioners amend the Official Zoning Overlay Map and Section 44-465(8) eliminating roads and portions thereof from the 100-foot front setback requirement within the Rural Preservation-Overlay, as submitted by staff. The Planning Board’s motion also included extending the elimination of the RP-O along NC 16 South and Blackburn Bridge Road.
Individual notices were mailed to all property owners potentially impacted by rezoning requests, as required by North Carolina General Statutes as well as the UDO. The original notification to property owners for this public hearing did not include notice to those owners who would be affected by removal of NC 16 South and Blackburn Bridge Road. Staff is requesting that the Board of Commissioners consider the seven roads originally advertised and notified, based on Planning and Legal staff’s concern about property owners along NC Highway 16 and Blackburn Bridge Road not receiving appropriate notice of the proposed amendment as well as uncertainty surrounding the impact of future widening of Highway 16 South from Tower Road to Claremont Road. Final design of the roadway by the North Carolina Department of Transportation is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2013. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in May 2013 and construction will begin in August 2015. Once the final design for Highway16 South has been approved, staff will be in a better position to determine impacts of the RP-O 100 foot setbacks on future development. At that time, staff would revisit the issue of removing Highway 16 South and Blackburn Bridge Road from the RP-O.
D. The Board will conduct a second public hearing and receive citizen comments regarding an application to the North Carolina Division of Community Assistance for Catalyst Grant funds for the 2012 cycle for the Individual Development Account (IDA) Unifour First-Time Homebuyer Program and Emergency Housing Repair Program, along with all corresponding documents, and consider an Authorizing Resolution and Certification, a Sub-recipient Agreement between Catawba County and the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) allowing the WPCOG to conduct classes for participants receiving grant funds, and a Distribution Plan for the Emergency Housing Repair Program.
Catawba County is applying for a $225,000 Catalyst grant through the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance for the 2012 cycle, which will consist of two components. This grant allows a local government to apply for different components. The two that have been selected are: Individual Development Account (IDA) Unifour First-Time Homebuyer Program Grant and the Emergency Repair Housing Program. The first component of this grant is the IDA program, for $70,000, in which the County will be the lead entity for the next three years for this program. These funds will be used for down payment assistance ($1,000 per person) for 30 clients who are to be low to moderate income persons and will be selected for the IDA class and approved to purchase a home. These clients will also use the Unifour Consortium First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Program Funds of $5,000 for an existing home, and $7,500 for a newly constructed home in the Greater Hickory Metro area, to purchase their home.
The second component is an Emergency Housing Repair Grant for $155,000 which will be used to provide emergency repair housing funds up to $5,000 for up to 30 homes of very low- and low-income homeowners located in Catawba County. Types of repairs that can be completed are handicap accessibility, roofs, floors, heating systems, etc.
With interest rates remaining at historic lows, staff has determined that the County’s 2005 Certificates Of Participation (COPs) transaction may be refinanced at current interest rates to achieve approximately 7.9% net present value savings, amounting to more than $850,000 in savings over the next thirteen years. That amount will fluctuate slightly as interest rates change between now and the sale date, which is expected for mid-December. Catawba County last refinanced its 2004 COPs in 2011, resulting in interest savings of more than $2 million over seventeen years.
OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 828-465-8464
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