Annexation & Conditional Use passes council

New community center in doubt

By Benjamin Cohn

Weaverville – Ahead of last Monday’s monthly Town Council meeting, the council held public hearings for two of the items on that night’s discussion and action agenda, the annexation of the Riverside Stump Dump and a conditional zoning district application for a property located at 37 Brown Street.
“In each of those two [issues], if the developer or a party with the developer wishes to say something,” said Mayor Al Root, time was allotted first for them to do so. Root began the hearing with the proposed annexation of the Riverside Stump Dump.
According to the town’s Planning Director James Eller, “This matter before you has been duly advertised. We’ve got an affidavit of publication of mailing and posting should anyone feel the need to review those.”
Marty Kocot, a local engineer, spoke at the meeting indicating that he would answer any questions posed to developers of the Stump Dump project. Root noted that no other individuals wished to speak and entertained a motion to close the first public hearing.
A similar public hearing was conducted to acknowledge any questions of Thomas Wolfe, “the principal of Saba Holding Group, the applicant,” Wolfe said in describing himself. “I don’t really have anything to add, but I’m certainly open to addressing concerns and questions,” he said.
Beth Mangum, an area resident, spoke out in favor of the proposed conditional zoning district for the property in question, saying it would add charming living options for families moving to Weaverville.
During the actual meeting, Town Council voted to approve this month’s consent agenda, which included a “proclamation recognizing National Police Week” as the week of May 12 through May 18, 2019, the town’s monthly tax report and an application for a conditional zoning district at 108 Church Street.
Also included in the consent agenda was an item recommending the town “set a minimal tax amount and direct the Tax Collector to withhold collection efforts on tax bills with minimal taxes owed” for bills in the amount of five dollars or less, according to the meeting’s agenda packet.
Monday’s meeting continued with the Town Manager’s report delivered by Selena Coffey. In a memo, she introduced plans for a “Second Saturday Summer Series,” featuring “performances by local traditional music artists,” according to agenda notes. The events will start on June 8th and “will feature Lillian Chase accompanied by her sister Sara Nell.”
Coffey also proposed a joint meeting with the town’s Planning and Zoning Board to “discuss the Comprehensive Land Use Plan goals and objectives,” according to the meeting’s packet. The town manager provided an early look at a walkability map for the town, featuring major streets, businesses and points of interest with dots representing the ability to walk safely to nearly any spot in town.
Architect John Legerton addressed Town Council last Monday night to go over his firm’s plans for the town’s community center. According to Legerton, there was an original community center at the site of the proposed new community center that was demolished recently.
Legerton explained his plan for a lobby or corridor at the inside entrance of the building and a community room nearby. “We do have a storage room across the hall from there, so if you wanted more open-area activities in that … room, the tables and chairs could be put on carts and rolled into there,” he said.
Also allotted in the plans for a new community center is a multipurpose room, a smaller gathering room and restrooms. Council members expressed concerns about spending up to $3 million on a new community center with no guarantee of the town’s ability to make its money back by monetizing the new building.
Town Council member Patrick Fitzsimmons indicated his intention to approve the architectural plans on the condition that “market research” be done to prove the town’s demand for the community center.
Public input was again requested on the proposed plans for the town’s new community center. Several townspeople spoke passionately about their perceived need for this center while council members expressed trepidation at spending so much money on a project the town may not embrace.
Town Council member Doug Jackson motioned to approve the entire architectural plan, budgeted at more than $2.6 million, double the amount estimated 18 months ago, according to Town Council member Andrew Nagle. With no seconds, Jackson’s motion died.
Finally, a winning recipe was found when Fitzsimmons motioned to accept the full architectural plan, contingent upon receipt of market research to be done within the next two months. The motion was approved with Nagle, Fitzsimmons and McKenna voting aye and Sherrill and Jackson voting nay.
Town Council approved the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to award a conditional zoning district to the property at 37 Brown Street and to approve the voluntary annexation of the Riverside Stump Dump.
Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson announced that the town received an offer to buy the old bus garage for a purchase price of $350,000. Jackson motioned to accept the offer and his motion carried.

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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