Governor’s reopening puts town’s annual July 4th celebration in doubt

By Clint Parker

Weaverville – At Weaverville Town Council’s first remotely held Town Council meeting, members of the board left the annual July 4th celebration this year in doubt. The item was just one of many issues the council tackled under the social distancing rules meeting.

The council got under way as usual by approving the agenda and minutes from previous meetings and then dived right into the consent agenda. Among the consent agenda items that were approved was the news that 98 percent of the property taxes have been collected as well as a couple of tax releases.

The consent agenda also contained the approval of a donation of some used fire hoses to the Barnardsville Fire Department and the Town of Mars Hill along with the approval of a preliminary plat for a major subdivision known as Greenwood Park, the annual presentation of the town manager delegated policies, minor amendments to the personnel policy, ratification of an Earth Day & Census proclamation as well as an Arbor Day proclamation and a budget amendment of $111 to the police department’s budget.

The board then heard from Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey as she presented her monthly report, where she first talked about the upcoming budget, which she said “…will be a very difficult one this year, based on the unknowns generated by COVID-19. We will not have a full grasp of the pandemic’s impact on our revenue until well after our economy is back to normal. However, in accordance with N.C. General Statutes, I plan to move forward in presenting a budget to you at the May 12 workshop.”

Questions from the board came up asking what the shortfall in sales tax revenue would be. Coffey said predictions are ranging from 20 to 35 percent, which means anywhere from around $250,000 to $420,000 based on the $1.2 million they received last year.

She then mentioned the new town fountain in front of the town hall, which is almost complete. “We are waiting for the final slate to arrive to top the perimeter of the fountain in order for public works to finish this project.”
Coffey then updated the board on the progress of the new Lake Louise Community Center. “As you are aware, the community center construction has also been continuing, with our contractors continuing their grading work, as well as digging and pouring footings. The project is on schedule at this point.”

She also apprised the board on the Weaverville Small-Town-Strong Initiative, where she had received 40 responses from business owners to the survey, which is being updated to the associated website and said she had taken about seven applications for commitment of private streets which the town voted to consider taking into the town’s road system a couple of months ago.

“As we near the May 1 deadline, we have received a number of applications to transfer private streets to the public system. Some of these include the following: Creekside Village, Fox’s Lair, Weaver Village Way, Reems Creek Village, Aldi and Reems Creek Villas.” It was pointed out that only private roads were to be considered and that Aldi would not be eligible since that was a commercial property.

The board then took up the agenda’s discussion and action items. The first on the list was the 4th of July celebration where Weaverville Mayor Al Root said, based on the governor’s timetable for opening back up from the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate that it appeared that the July 4th celebration would have to be canceled. But that the town was still requesting the street closings, just in case they could hold the annual event.
Coffey was asked about being able to recoup any money that has been spent on the event so far, in particular, the pyrotechnics (fireworks). Coffey said the contract said “no cancelation,” but that they were going to ask as they had already paid about $9,000 so far to the company. Councilman Andrew Nagle asked about taking delivery of the fireworks and storing them until next year.

The board also heard the latest on updating the town’s parking policy along with enforcement of the same. Noting that town businesses have taken a hit because of COVID-19, Coffey said that police would be delicate in that implementation. “We are ready, but we’re going to be sensitive,” said Coffey. When the vote came on the parking policy, Nagle, who had been critical of the parking policy, was the only dissenting vote.

Council also passed an Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan along with a Title VI implementation strategy, which outlines a grievance policy and procedures plan along with making Town Attorney Jeniffer Jackson the Title VI Implementation Plan and Program Coordinator.

The board also set a date for hearing on May 18th at 6:30 pm for code amendments on streets, parking, notices, and a mixed-used development ordinance as well as a conditional zoning district for Garrison Reserve. Council set a hearing on the proposed 2020-2021 budget for June 9th at 6 pm. They then heard quarterly reports from planning and zoning and public works and the water department before adjourning.

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