By Clint Parker
Weaverville – In their Monday meeting (Aug 24) the Weaverville Town Council voted to supply water to two developments among other business conducted by the board. The meeting got underway without any public comment and only one or two citizens in the video meeting.
The board in a passing of the consent agenda made several appointments and reappointed members to the Planning & Zoning, ABC, and Board of Adjustment Boards. Tycer Lewis and Roger Parkin were reappointed as regular members of the Board of Adjustment to serve a three-year term. Bob Pace was reappointed as an alternate member on the Board of Adjustment. Gary Burge and Catherine Cordell were reappointed as regular members of the Planning and Zoning Board. Rob Chason was reappointed to the ABC Board. All will serve a three-year term beginning in September. Chason was designated as the ABC Board Chairman.
Councilmember Andrew Nagle asked before the vote if it mattered that Chason was not living inside the town limits anymore and was told no, that it did not.
The board also passed in the consent agenda budget amendments re-appropriating several thousand dollars that were not spent last year for several departments. They also set a hearing for an annexation petition and initial zoning request for a Conrad Industry Property, establishing a public hearing on annexation and R-3 zoning for Sept. 28 at 6:45 pm and send to P&Z Board. Since this vote was just to set a hearing, Nagle, an officer for Conrad Industry, did not have to recuse himself from the vote Town Attorney Jennifer Jones told the Tribune.
Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey next gave her report to the board. She informed the board that after reviewing the police department’s Use of Force Policy, she provided a newly revised policy to the board. “I would like to thank Police Chief Davis, Lieutenant Oberlin, and Town Attorney Jackson for their time and thoughtful review and revisions to this policy and ensuring that our policy corresponds with the national Campaign Zero’s ‘Eight Can’t Wait’ guidelines.”
The Tribune was told several weeks ago by Weaverville Police Chief Ron Davis (August 13th issue) that, “Weaverville Police has long incorporated each policy. ‘All of these are something that we have in our policy,’ says Davis.”
Asked if the Tribune reported that incorrectly, Coffey said, “No, you didn’t get it wrong. What we did was to try and incorporate the “Eight Can’t Wait” directives directly into our use of force policy. These concepts were already distributed throughout our police department policies, but we wanted to have them concentrated in the use of force section specifically as much as possible.
She added, “We also updated our best practices, simplified some language, strengthened the message in some areas, and tried to address all portions of the ‘Eight Can’t Wait’ campaign within the policy. [We] also dispersed throughout our police policies, in revising our use of force policy, we garnered input from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the department, including the Attorney General’s guidance and state and national associations.”
Coffey next told the board she had reached out to the bands who were to have played in the Summer Series musical events asking if they would be interested in performing virtually as directed by council. She said all “are interested and I will be scheduling and advertising these soon.”
She then told the board about town staff continuing to work on determining ways in which the town may assist the Hillside Community in making the potential improvements they have identified for the space between their community center (former schoolhouse) and the church facility. “We anticipate having a report back to Town Council at its September 28 meeting,” she said.
Asked about the potential improvements, Coffey told the Tribune, “At the August 4th workshop, town council asked staff to research how the town may partner with the Hillside Community to potentially provide for some parking and picnic tables and such on the land between Mt. Zion Church and the former schoolhouse (which serves as their community center). I don’t have an answer on what the town may be able to help with at this point. I am working with our staff to determine what may be feasible and bring a report back to Council in September.”
Coffey then asked the board their opinion on the size of new recycling carts for the town. A decision between 64-gallon and 48-gallon as the town’s old way of collecting recyclables in blue bags was going away.
She explained she had two grants. A NC Department of Enviromental Quality grant ($30,000 grant amount) will allow us to move from the originally planned 95-gallon cart to 64-gallon or 48-gallon carts, but tote bins will not be eligible for grant funding because bins are difficult to service since there is no chance for semi-automatic or automatic collection.”
She then explained a second grant, from Southeast Recycling Development Council of $13,000 grant amount will not allow for the purchase of smaller tote bins or carts. Councilmember Dottie Sherill said it would be difficult for her to handle a cart as big as a 64-gallon container. Councilmember Doug Jackson was worried about the footprint of the large with the building of home trending toward smaller.
Weaverville Public Works Director Dale Pennell said that the footprint of difference between the two was negotiable that the difference was really in height. He pointed out that with the large carts the recycle company may be about to move to every other week pick up, resulting in a cost savings. The majority of the board thought that the 64-gallon cart would be a better way to go.
Council also learned that the grant would not completely pay for the new carts and that residents would pick up some of the cost and that the cost of an RFID chip for the carts was also not covered. “These are radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking chips that help to keep track of the carts and how much material is being recycled versus how much is going into garbage (going to the landfill) with the idea being that recycling saves the town money because less garbage is being diverted to the landfill,” Coffey told the Tribune.
Coffey also informed the board that she had contracted with a grant-writer per town council’s budget, approved for 2020-2021. Kelly Shanafelt will be serving in this capacity and will begin with 10 hours of researching grant opportunities. She concluded with an upcoming town council workshop on September 8th to focus on fundraising plans for the new community center. That meeting will be held via Zoom and a link will be sent out a week or so before the workshop.
The council next went into action and discussion items where the first item was to hear from the Town Planning Director James Eller about a Comprehensive Land Use Plan progress report and review of priorities.
The council then took up a request for a water line extension for Northridge Commons retail businesses. The request came from Magnolia Properties of Greenville South Carolina and will house three businesses, including, according to the application, a Hobby Lobby and a Marshalls Department store. The new shopping center will house three businesses in total and be located beside the Dollar Tree at North Ridge Commons. Pennell said they had the water and the obligation to supply it. The board passed the request (see related article on page 5).
The board also approved a water commitment request for the Palisades at Reems Creek, a proposed apartment complex consisting of seven individual residential buildings housing 132 dwelling units, a clubhouse and a swimming pool. This project adjoins Merrimon Avenue across from Creekside Village.
The board then heard reports from department heads before adjourning for the evening.