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May 1, 2006

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, May 1, 2006, 9:30 a.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 Regular meeting of April 17, 2006.

5.    Recognition of Special Guests.

6.    Public Comment for items not on the agenda.

7.    Presentations:
a.    Peace Officer Memorial Day and National Police Week Proclamation.  Presented to Sheriff L. David Huffman, Police Chiefs and Carl Pope, President, Catawba County Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

b.    Mental Health Month Proclamation.  Presented to John Hardy, Mental Health Director.

c.    Older Americans Month.  Presented to Grace McLeod, Adult Social Work Manager.

d.    Soil and Water Stewardship Week Proclamation.  Presented to Ray Henderson, Chairman, Soil & Water Conservation District Board.

e.    Commendations for Certification as Local Government Finance Officers.  Presented to Rodney Miller, Finance Director, and Jeanne Jarrett, Assistant Finance Director.
8.    Appointments.

9.    Consent Agenda:

a.    Gang Violence Prevention Grant.

b.    Hickory City Schools – Letter of Commitment for FY2006/2007 for funds for renovation of American Legion Building and replacement of HVAC system.

c.    EcoComplex Exemption for Petra Engineering.

10.    Departmental Reports.
a.    Social Services:
Update on NACo Prescription Drug Discount Plan.  Presented by Jo Sloan, Family Support Program Manager.

b.    Planning:
Request to amend County Code, Chapter 44, Article III, Districts, to add Section 44-89, Conditional Zoning District.  Presented by Jacky Eubanks, Planning Director.
11.    Other items of business.
12.    Attorneys’ Report.
13.    Manager’s Report.

14.    Adjournment.

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.

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

The Board of Commissioners will be attending a Board Retreat to address issues facing the Board on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13, 2006 at the Broyhill Inn in Boone, NC.  The retreat will commence at 8:00 a.m. on May 12, 2006 and adjourn at 5:00 p.m. on May 13, 2006.  The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be Monday, May 15, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.

MAY 1, 2006,  9:30 A.M.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will continue its deliberation of a proposed amendment to the County Code, Chapter 44, Article III, to add a section allowing Conditional Zoning; consider a letter of commitment to include $800,000 in funding in the County's fiscal year 2006-2007 budget, for renovation of the former Hickory American Legion building by the Hickory Public School System; and consider accepting a State grant in the amount of $100,000 to be used to prevent gang violence among youth in the 25th Judicial District, when the Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 1, 2006, in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room of the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.  

The Board will also consider approving the use of the sole source exemption, allowed under North Carolina law, for a letter of intent under which Petra Engineering performed a preliminary assessment of an energy facility for a proposed Regional Eco-Complex; hear an update on the National Association of Counties' Prescription Drug Discount Plan; present a Certificate of Commendation to the County's Finance Director, Rodney Miller, and Assistant Finance Director, Jeanne Jarrett, who recently earned the Certified Local Government Finance Officer designation from the North Carolina Association of County Finance Officers and the North Carolina Public Finance Officers Association; and issue proclamations declaring the week of May 14 as National Police Week and May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day; the week of May 1-7 as Soil and Water Stewardship Week, and the month of May as Mental Health Month and Older Americans Month.

A.  The Board will issue a proclamation designating Monday, May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and the week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week to recognize that the members of the law enforcement agencies of Catawba County and its municipalities play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the citizens of this County, and to encourage all citizens to know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices of their law enforcement officers.  The proclamation will direct that all flags on County property be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and urge all citizens to recognize these officers’ faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities and participate in events celebrating these important occasions.

B.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May as Mental Health Month to recognize the vital work done by the professionals at Catawba County Mental Health Services through referral of citizens into the system of mental health service delivery and through oversight of the service delivery system itself.

C.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring May as Older Americans Month to recognize the valuable contributions made by the older citizens of Catawba County, their families and care givers. This year's theme, "Choices for Independence,” reflects the continued national and Catawba County commitment to help prepare for a larger aging population and support the efforts of baby boomers and older adults to achieve healthy aging. Catawba County is home to more than 27,000 citizens 60 years of age and older, representing 17% of the population.  Older adults are not only living longer, but are staying healthier and more actively engaged in their communities.  

D.  The Board will issue a proclamation declaring the week of May 1-7, 2006 as Soil and Water Stewardship Week to acknowledge that we all depend on the fruits of healthy soil for our survival; that lessons from the past clearly show the need for conservation of the land; and that proper stewardship of the soil calls for everyone who touches the soil to do so with respect and do their individual part to conserve and protect this vital natural resource.
E.  The Board will present Certificates of Commendation to County Finance Director, Rodney Miller, and Assistant Finance Director, Jeanne Jarrett.  Miller and Jarrett recently qualified as Certified Local Government Finance Officers through a program sponsored by the North Carolina Association of County Finance Officers and the North Carolina Public Finance Officers Association.  The Certificates of Commendation recognize that completion of the program included a rigorous and comprehensive four-part examination that exhibited Miller and Jarrett's commitment to improve public services to the community and continuing professional development.  Miller and Jarrett are two of only six finance officials in the State of North Carolina to achieve this certification this year.   

A.  The Board will consider accepting a two-year grant in the amount of $100,000 from the North Carolina
Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP), for the prevention of gang violence in youth in the 25th judicial district.  The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Hickory applied for and received a grant from DJJDP for the purpose of preventing gang violence in youth in the 25th judicial district (Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties).  The Boys and Girls Clubs will provide a required 25% cash and in-kind match; therefore, no County funds will be involved.  The grant will pass through the County budget as other funds for the Catawba County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council do.  A subcommittee composed of representatives from the Council, law enforcement, schools, juvenile court counselors, the court system and human service agencies surveyed the district's gang problem and reported it is a growing one.  In Catawba County, most gang activity starts in the Hickory area.  Asian gangs are very prominent; Hispanics are looking for recruitment. A clinician working in the middle schools reports a number of small gangs of “wannabees,” in the county. Through the Street Smart curriculum, available from the national organization of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the grant proposes to reach a minimum of 2000 youth, primarily of middle school age, to educate them about gangs and teach them methods to avoid or leave gangs.  The Board's Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board accept these grant funds.

B.   The Board will consider approving a letter of commitment to fund $800,000 in the County fiscal year 2006-07 budget for renovations to the former Hickory American Legion building at Hickory High School; and a request from the Hickory Board of Education for the transfer of $15,000 in capital outlay projects to complete the replacement of the heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the Administrative Services Building.   In the County's fiscal year 2004-05 budget, $329,000 was allocated to relocate the auto mechanics program from Hickory High School to the old American Legion building purchased by the Hickory Public Schools.  An additional $526,000 was approved in the current year's budget to convert space formerly occupied by the auto mechanics program into classrooms, and for additional renovations to the American Legion building.  The Hickory Board of Education has requested $800,000 to complete the renovations to the American Legion Building, as its top funding priority for fiscal year 2006-07.  The Hickory Board of Education hopes to receive bids on the project in June, so work can begin by July 1.   Also, a transfer of $15,000 is requested from funds remaining in the heating system project at the old Grandview Middle School building to a current project to replace the HVAC system at the Hickory Public Schools' Administrative Services Building.  The quote for this project was $10,000 more than budgeted and additional casework will be needed to enclose the return unit on the first floor of the building.  The Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommends the Board give priority in the County's FY 2006-2007 Schools’ Capital budget to fund $800,000 for renovations to the former Hickory American Legion building, agree to send a letter of commitment for these funds, and approve the requested transfer of funds.

C.  The Board will consider approving the use of the "sole source exemption", allowed under North Carolina General Statute 143-64.32, for engineering services with Petra Engineering for a preliminary engineering assessment, feasibility study and design documents for a proposed Energy facility at the proposed County Eco Complex near the Blackburn Landfill.   On February 6, 2006, the Board approved a Letter of Intent with Petra for the preliminary assessment.  North Carolina General Statutes allow a local government to select a firm to provide a service without a requirement for formal bidding if a particular company is the sole source that can provide the service.   Staff from the County Department of Utilities and Engineering recommended Petra Engineering be used because Petra staff members have past experience with Catawba County's conversion of methane produced naturally at the Blackburn and now-closed Newton Landfills into energy, also called "green energy" because it is naturally produced; and because of Petra's expertise in green power-produced energy facility projects.  Staff determined the County would have had considerable additional expense from the use of any other company because any other company would have to acquire the background knowledge of County projects that Petra staff already has.  The Board's Policy and Public Works Subcommittee recommends the Board approve the use of the sole source exemption for the Letter of Intent with Petra Engineering.



The Board will receive an update on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Prescription Drug Discount Plan. The plan was launched on March 1, 2006, giving the County the opportunity to make free prescription drug discount cards available to citizens under a program sponsored by NACo.  The cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage, and are accepted by all of the county’s pharmacies.  A cardholder may use the card when prescriptions are not covered by insurance.  In March 2006, citizens attempted to use the card to purchase 963 prescriptions.  On 89% of those occasions, the card offered the customer a savings over the pharmacy’s regular retail price.  475 persons filled 857 prescriptions with the cards.  Discounts averaged 22.5% or $10.12 savings per prescription.  Catawba County citizens saved a total of $9,744.32 during the first month of service.  The cards are available at the Catawba County Department of Social Services, Catawba County Health Department, all Catawba County public libraries, all Hickory City public libraries, the West Hickory Senior Citizens Center, Cooperative Christian Ministry of Hickory, Eastern Cooperative Christian Ministry in Newton, Salvation Army, Faith Task Force on Poverty; Centro Latino and the United Hmong Association.  The Catawba County Chamber of Commerce is also offering the cards to its members.  

The Board will continue its deliberation of proposed amendments to the Catawba County Code to add a new section, 44-89, which would allow for consideration of certain uses that are not necessarily supported by the underlying zoning.  This new tool would allow for the establishment of conditional zoning districts and provide the Board with flexibility to determine what uses are in the best interests of the citizens of Catawba County.  The districts would contain specific uses that would not otherwise be allowed without the appropriate zoning change.  The specific uses would be permitted and conditioned.  They would only stay in existence as long as the use continued.  Once the use ceased, the underlying zoning would be restored to the property.  

In the 1980s, North Carolina cities and counties began use of conditional zoning.  When this technique is used, a new zoning district with no automatically permitted uses is created, and a concurrent conditional use permit is issued for a particular development within the new district.  For example, a residential property adjacent to a commercial property could be used for a specific commercial purpose under conditional use zoning.  In this example, the residential property would be restricted to a specific use, with conditions such as screening and hours of operation, rather than being rezoned to a commercial district.  Once the specific commercial use ceased, the property would return to the residential use.  Conditional use district zoning is used on a voluntary basis.  Amendments to existing State statutes passed in 2005 addressed the origin and nature of conditions that may be imposed.  A property owner or a local government, with citizen input, may suggest conditions, but only those conditions mutually acceptable to both the owner and the government may be incorporated into the individual permit involved.  In addition, conditions or site-specific standards imposed are limited to those (1) that conform to County ordinances and officially adopted plans and (2) address impacts reasonably expected to be generated from the development or use of the site.  

The Board held a public hearing on this proposed new section of the County Code on April 17, 2006.  No one spoke at the public hearing.  The Board decided to table consideration of this issue and instructed staff to discuss the concept with the members of the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan Committee and citizens in that community, since one early use of the conditional zoning concept could involve proposed development in the Sherrills Ford and Terrell areas.  Staff met with members of the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan Committee on Thursday, April 20, and held a community information meeting for area citizens on Thursday, April 27 at Sherrills Ford Elementary School to provide information about proposed development in the Sherrills Ford and Terrell areas.