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November 21, 2005

AGENDA 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Monday, November 21, 2005, 7 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.

3.    Invocation.

4.    Approval of Minutes from the Special Session of October 21, 2005 and the Regular and Closed Session meetings of November 7, 2005.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
Presentation of certificates to County Government Class Graduates.  Presented by Chair Katherine W. Barnes and Dave Hardin, Public Information Officer.
8.    Public Hearings:
a.    Request to amend St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan text and Map 6 (St. Stephens/Oxford SAP Future Land Use Map). Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.

b. Rezoning request from Buddy Houston for 3 contiguous properties at the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.

c.     Rezoning request for Jeffrey Lane in St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.

d.    Closeout of the 2003 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Scattered Site Housing Grant.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director and Laurie Huffman, WPCOG Community Development Administrator.

e.    Closeout of the $850,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Advent Crossroads Water Project.  Presented by Barry B. Edwards, P.E., Utilities and Engineering Director.

f.    FY2006-07 Community Transportation Program Grant Application.  Presented by Cynthia McGinnis, Transit Manager, Piedmont Wagon Transit System.
9.    Appointments.

10.    Departmental Reports.
Utilities and Engineering:
a.    Update on the Erosion Control Program and Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program Grant.  Presented by Toni Norton, P.E., Water Resources Engineer.

b.    November 5, 2005 Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Event Update and 2005 Community Waste Reduction Recycling Grant. Presented by Amanda B. Kain, Waste Reduction Coordinator/Educator.
11.    Attorneys’ Report.
Use of the County Seal.  Presented by Robert Oren Eades, County Attorney
12.    Manager’s Report.

13.    Other items of business.

14.    Adjournment.


PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) is located in the Government Center and can be reached by dialing 465﷓8200. 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.

CALENDAR
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will take place on Monday, December 5, 2005 at 9:30 a.m.  This meeting will follow the annual breakfast with the Cooperative Extension Service scheduled for 8:00 a.m.  The December evening meeting of the Board of Commissioners will take place on Monday, December 19, 2005 at 7:00 p.m.


PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
NOVEMBER 21, 2005, 7 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on 1) an amendment to the
St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan to designate the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road as a Rural Commercial Node; 2) a request to rezone 1.64 acres on Houston Mill Road in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area, from R-2 Residential to C-1 Commercial; 3) a request to rezone 0.85 acres, at 4890 Jeffrey Lane in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area, from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial; 4) the closeout of the County's 2003 Community Development Block Grant Scattered Site Housing Grant; 5) the closeout of the Advent Crossroad Water Project Community Development Block Grant and 6) a proposed application for a Fiscal Year 2006-07 Community Transportation Program Grant, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 21, 2005, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room, on the second floor of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. 

The Board will also consider a recommendation from staff and the County Attorney to restrict the use of the County Seal to official County purposes; receive a report on the November 5th Hazardous Household Waste and Electronic Waste Collection and consider accepting a State grant to help meet the cost of billboards emphasizing the importance of recycling and waste reduction; and receive an update on the County's Sedimentation & Erosion Control Program and accept a State grant to provide start-up funding for the program.  The Board will also recognize the graduates of the County's most recent course on county government. 

PRESENTATIONS
A.  The Board will award Certificates of Achievement to six citizens who recently completed Catawba County's latest County Government Course.  The following citizens completed the course during the weeks of October 30 and November 6: Ms. Mary Bell and Pastor Don Bledsoe of Conover; Ms. Clara Hall, Mr. Ben Sifford and Ms. Carlene Sifford of Hickory; and Ms. Joyce Salter of Morganton.  The group studied the County's structure, management and budget; the Mental Health Services Department, Department of Social Services and Public Health Department; the Register of Deeds Office and Economic Development Corporation (two subject matters chosen by the class); and the Emergency Services Department and Sheriff's Office.   They also learned more about all of the county's departments and services.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan text and Map #6, to consider the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road as a Rural Commercial Node.  At its September 26, 2005 meeting, the Catawba County Planning Board held a public hearing to consider the request of Mr. Buddy Houston to rezone three contiguous properties, totaling 1.64-acres, from the R-2 Residential District to the C-1 Commercial District.  The properties are located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road.  Staff initially recommended the request be denied, based on the Small Area Plan's recommending the intersection should remain residential.  Since the adoption of the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan on April 21, 2003, there has not been any residential construction on these three parcels nor on parcels near this intersection, and all recent development in the area has been commercial, with three rezoning requests approved on nearby properties since 1994.  Upon hearing this information at its September 26 meeting, the Planning Board decided to table action until its October 24, 2005 meeting.  Staff recommended input from the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan Committee on a change to the plan to designate the intersection of Houston Mill and Springs Roads as a Rural Commercial Node.
 
The committee met on October 6, 2005 and unanimously recommended the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan be amended to 1) change text in the Land Use and Economic Development sections to add a Rural Commercial Node at the intersection of Houston Mill Road & Springs Road; and 2) amend Map #6 within the plan to reflect the additional node. A Rural Commercial Node is defined as having a maximum total area of 10 acres per node and a maximum gross leasable area of 15,000 square feet per lot.  Land uses typically found in a Rural Commercial Node equate to current C-1 Commercial land uses. The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed amendments on October 24, 2005.  No one from the public addressed the Planning Board, which voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Commissioners approve the amendments to the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan to create a Rural Commercial Node at the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road.

B.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a request of Mr. Buddy Houston to rezone three contiguous properties, totaling 1.64 acres, from the R-2 Residential District to the C-1 Commercial District.  The properties are located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan District and are undeveloped.  The intent of the C-1 Commercial District is to provide land for the sale of convenience goods and limited personal services to residents of the immediate neighborhood.  Most of the properties to the north are zoned R-2 and developed with housing, with one parcel developed with a hair salon and zoned O-I Office Institutional, and one vacant parcel zoned C-3 Commercial.  Most of the properties to the east are zoned R-2 and developed with housing, with one parcel developed with a small engine repair business and zoned C-2 Commercial, and one parcel developed with a welding shop and zoned E-1 Industrial.  Properties to the south are mainly zoned R-2, but somewhat less developed with housing, while most of the properties to the west are zoned R-2 and developed with housing.  All recent development in the area has been commercial, with three rezoning requests approved on nearby properties since 1994.

Public water is available along both Houston Mill Road and Springs Road.  Springs Road is designated as an "Urban Major Thoroughfare" on the Thoroughfare Plan for Catawba County.  Urban Major Thoroughfares consist of major streets, and interstate, intrastate, freeway, expressway and parkway roads that provide for the expeditious movement of volumes of traffic in and through urban areas.  The closest traffic counts were taken two miles south on Springs Road and showed 11,000 Average Daily Trips (ADT).  The road is designed to handle 14,800 ADT.

The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan serves as the current land use plan for this area. The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan Committee recommended the intersection of Houston Mill Road and Springs Road be designated as a Rural Commercial Node on the plan.  Land uses typically found in a Rural Commercial Node equate to current C-1 Commercial land uses.   The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on October 24, 2005.  The property owner spoke in favor of the request and no one spoke in opposition.  The Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of this request.

C.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a request of Mr. Morgan Shepherd to rezone an 0.85-acre parcel from the R-2 Residential District to the C-2 Commercial District.  The property is located at 4890 Jeffrey Lane off Springs Road in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan District.  The intent of the C-2 District is to provide land for convenience shops, specialty retail goods, and business and personal services to the traveling public and residents of neighborhoods, with direct access to arterial and collector streets required. The subject parcel is developed with a garage adjacent to the applicant’s home.  The use of the garage has since changed to the storage of cars for a business use. This is the basis for the rezoning request.  If the rezoning is approved, the garage parcel would be combined with a portion of the parcel with the house to form a 40,000 square foot lot, which conforms to the C-2 Commercial District.  Properties to the north, east and west  on Springs Road are within a C-2 Commercial corridor containing a mixture of commercial and residential uses. Properties to the south contain residential homes, mainly on 0.5 acre developed lots and zoned R-2 Residential. 
       
The St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Plan, adopted on April 21, 2003, serves as the current land use plan for this area.  The plan identifies this section of Springs Road as a Commercial Corridor, which begins at the intersection of County Home Road and Springs Road and extends west along Springs Road to Hickory’s planning jurisdiction.  Staff considered the request to be in conformance with the adopted land use plan.  The size of the parcel in question prohibits large-scale commercial uses and the parcels surrounding the subject property have developed commercially; therefore, rezoning the subject parcel to C-2 Commercial would extend the already established C-2 district. 
         
The Planning Board conducted a public hearing on October 24, 2005.  One citizen spoke in opposition to the request.  He was not opposed to Mr. Shepherd’s current operation, but had concerns as to what could operate on the parcel in the future.  Staff also received two letters of opposition from adjoining property owners, one of whom felt the area should remain residential while the other merely stated an opposition to the request.  Members of the Planning Board expressed some concerns.  They felt a commercial property would be better served fronting a State road as opposed to access off a private road.  The access to Mr. Shepherd’s property is from Jeffrey Lane, a private road that serves as access to another property.  In order for Mr. Shepherd’s property to qualify for C-2 zoning, it would have to be combined with a portion of the adjoining lot to form a 40,000 square foot lot.  Mr. Shepherd owns the adjoining lot, so it would be a valid combination from a zoning and tax perspective, but the Planning Board expressed concerns that the portion that would be combined crosses over Jeffrey Lane.  A motion was made to approve the request, but the motion failed to win approval from the Planning Board, with three members voting to approve the request and five voting against the motion.

D.  The Board will hold a public hearing, required by State law, prior to considering approval of the closeout of the County's 2003 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Scattered Site Housing Grant. In 2003, the County was awarded a $400,000 Scattered Site CDBG Housing Grant to rehabilitate twelve homes throughout the county.  Eleven homes have been rehabilitated and one home was completely demolished and replaced with a new structure on the same lot.  The County was not required to match funds for this grant, as CDBG funding financed 100% of the total project costs.  The grant must be closed in November 2005 in order for the County to receive its next allocation of $400,000 for the year 2006 cycle of this grant, which is funded on a three year cycle.   Staff recommends the Board hold a public hearing and then approve the close out of the 2003 CDBG Scattered Site Housing Grant.

E.  The Board will hold a public hearing, required by State law, prior to considering approval of the closeout of the County's CDBG Advent Crossroads Water Project.  The County was awarded an $850,000 CDBG from the NC Department of Commerce in 2002 to install a ground storage tank, pump station and 18,800 linear feet of water line, and connect 51 residents to the water line. The infrastructure improvements and grant requirements have been completed. CDBG funds financed 66% of the total costs. As part of the closeout requirements, a public hearing must be held in order to receive public comment.  Staff recommends the Board hold a public hearing and consider closeout of the grant project.

F.  The Board will hold a public hearing on a proposed application for a Community Transportation Grant, available each year from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).  The purpose of the grant is to provide funds for administration and capital expenses for counties that meet State requirements for transportation, coordination and consolidation.  The requested funding from NCDOT will be $134,534 for administrative expenses and $55,192 for capital expenses. A required match from Catawba County would be $23,741 for administrative expenses and $6,132 for capital, making a total local match requirement of  $29,873.  The capital funding would be used to purchase two conversion vans as replacements for vehicles that are currently used to provide transportation to nutrition and recreation centers and for medical appointments and grocery shopping.  The grant will allow the County's consolidated transportation system to continue to provide transportation to senior citizens, the disabled, human services clients and the general public living outside of urbanized areas.  Primary trip purposes are to nutrition sites for senior citizens, medical appointments, shopping, education, employment and transport to human services facilities.

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS
A.   The Board will receive an update from Ms. Toni Norton, Water Resource Engineer, on the County's Sedimentation and Erosion Control Program.  The Board adopted an ordinance creating the program at its May 2, 2005 meeting.  Under the program, Sedimentation and Erosion Control plans and permits are now processed at Catawba County’s two permit centers, at the Government Center in Newton and at Hickory City Hall.  County staff anticipated reviewing erosion control plans within 10 days of submittal, faster than the average time for approval by the State prior to the start of the County's program.  The County's program mirrors the State’s restrictions. Catawba County only requires a formal plan when there is a disturbance of one acre or more.

The Board will consider accepting a North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission Local Program Assistance Grant, from the North Carolina Division of Land Resources, in the amount of $96,468 when a required County match is added.  On May 2, 2005, the Board adopted a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance. On May 19, 2005, the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission (SCC) approved the County’s request for the local control program.  The SCC awarded Catawba County a Local Program Assistance Grant of $38,587 at that time, but funding availability was dependant on appropriation by the North Carolina General Assembly for Fiscal Year 2005-2006.

On September 26, 2005, the County received notification that the grant funds had been awarded. The grant focuses on start-up and initial operating costs for training and education, travel, telephone service, dues and subscriptions, postage, advertising, vehicle maintenance, salary and benefits; along with enhancement and expansion of the local program.   The grant provides 40% of a set of costs specified by the County in its application and requires a 60% County match, which equals $57,881.  This match would be appropriated from the County's Water and Sewer Reserve Fund, but only the actual funds approved for grant reimbursement will be transferred from the Reserve Fund.  The Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board accept the grant and approve a budget revision for the required County match.

B.  The Board will receive a report from Amanda Kain, Waste Reduction Coordinator/Educator, on Catawba County and the City of Hickory's Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Event, held on November 5, 2005 at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory.  Ms. Kain will report that 520 vehicles came to the event, representing an estimated 580 households, one of the top three best attended events in the history of the program.  280 vehicles brought household hazardous waste only, 90 vehicles brought electronic waste only and 150 vehicles dropped off both household hazardous waste and e-waste.  High volumes of paint, computers and televisions were collected.  This was the second event to include expanded e-waste collection including stereo equipment, microwave ovens, VCRs, telephones, fax machines, copiers, camcorders, computers/laptops, keyboards, printers, remote controls, cellular phones and other electronic devices. 

The Board will consider accepting a 2005 Community Waste Reduction Recycling Grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), for partial reimbursement of advertising expenses in the amount of $7700.  Both Catawba County and the City of Hickory currently have comprehensive recycling programs, offering curbside and drop-off center services for collection of residentially-generated recyclables, as well as commercial collection programs for office paper, corrugated cardboard, food and beverage containers, and newsprint.  While these waste reduction and recycling efforts are proving to be effective, this grant funding will support a joint public awareness campaign and enhance the established programs.  NC DENR's Division of Pollution Prevention and Environment Assistance supports unique and innovative techniques to create public awareness about waste reduction and recycling through the Community Waste Reduction Recycling Grant. The County and City of Hickory proposed a billboard advertising campaign to NCDENR to send a strong recycling and waste reduction message to the community. The campaign started in September 2005 and runs through February 2006,  consisting of two billboards rotated every 60 days at six locations across Catawba County.  The $7000 grant from NC DENR requires a 10% local match, which the County and City of Hickory have agreed to split ($350 from each).  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board accept the grant for reimbursement of advertising expenses in the amount of $7,700, and approve a budget revision noting the grant acceptance and the appropriation of $350 for the required County match to the grant.

ATTORNEY'S REPORT
The Board will consider a recommendation from staff and the County Attorney to restrict the use of the County seal to official County purposes.  On July 13, 2005, Catawba County obtained service mark protection of its County Seal.  Although common law already gave the County the right to control the use of the seal, the service mark gives Catawba County additional legal authority to control the manner in which the seal is used.   The County Attorney, Mr. Robert O. Eades, will report to the Board on issues regarding the use of the County Seal by third parties.  He will discuss two categories of use.  Commercial uses are those in which the seal would be displayed in the ordinary course of trade as a part of any advertisement, solicitation, or other communication intended to in any way promote a particular product or service. Non-commercial uses are those where there is no element of private monetary gain to be had as a result of the activity.  

With regard to commercial uses, Mr. Eades' written report to the Board says, in part, "Given the role of Catawba County as a unit of local government, it is inappropriate for the County to in any way endorse - or appear to endorse - particular commercial goods, services, or the commercial activities of any party."   He will report that "the  most direct and effective policy as to commercial use is simple prohibition."  He will further report that such a prohibition will also allow the County to avoid developing a method by which it would evaluate particular proposed commercial uses – a task which would prove to be troublesome and subject to significant controversy.

With regard to non-commercial uses, Mr. Eades' report to the Board says, in part, "Non-commercial uses are more problematic. It is easy to conceive of such uses that would not initially appear inappropriate. However, upon closer scrutiny, any policy which would allow such uses invites two significant difficulties: who will determine which such uses are appropriate and what standards will be used to make such determinations?"  He further states that the most serious of the two difficulties is the problem of establishing standards used to evaluate the proposed uses, adding "such standards could not be used to reward favored groups or ideologies while punishing those lacking official favor.   We could not, for example, adopt standards that would allow one political party to use the County Seal, but deny that right to another.   Put another way, such standards would need to be content-neutral and applicable to all prospective users". 

None of the North Carolina counties that have obtained service mark protection for their seal allow third parties to use the seal and, Mr. Eades says in his report, "the consensus is that it is simply too difficult to draft defensible standards and that the risk of inappropriate use is simply too great.  The general position has been to restrict use of the County Seal to official County purposes."   The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board restrict the use of the County Seal to official County purposes.

CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER    465-8464