December Town Council Meeting
It was a great night in Montreat as we thanked our numerous volunteers for serving our Town. We also swore in new Commissioners Alice Lentz and Tom Widmer and swore in Kent Otto as Mayor Pro Tem.
Letter from the Mayor
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to update you on a number of matters pertaining to the Town Council.Reception:
Thursday, December 14, 5:30-6:30PM to thank Mary Standaert and Ann Vinson for their service to the Town and to welcome Alice Lentz, Kent Otto, and Tom Widmer who will be sworn into office at the Town Council Meeting at 7:00PM. The regular Open Forum will still take place at 6:30PM that evening. I hope you will join us at the Walkup Building.Florida Terrace Property:
The property has been rezoned to residential, and the three non-conforming lots will be reconfigured into two buildable lots that will be put on the real estate market in the near future.Texas Road Bridge:
The Town Council is awaiting final action by the NC Department of Transportation that will allow the bridge to be converted to a walking bridge.Taxes:
Even though Buncombe County completed a property reevaluation, Montreat held the line on our tax rate.Parking:
Parking is often a challenge since Montreat College has increased enrollment and the Montreat Conference Center has increased year-around participation in group events. We are grateful for the success of both institutions, and the Town is working toward meaningful solutions for the parking situation.De-annexation/Annexation of the new Town Hall site:
The Town of Montreat Administration is working with the Town of Black Mountain to annex the property just outside the Gate that will become the site of the new Town Hall. Purchase of the property from MRA is in the final stages. The Town Council will be working on a plan for a new Town Hall that will reflect the size and architecture of our community.Ordinances and Regulations:
Many of you have provided input that suggests that some of Montreat’s ordinances and regulations may be too restrictive. The Town Council will review current ordinances and regulations to determine what changes can be made to make building and remodeling an easier process.Open Forum:
The community is welcome to interact with commissioners from 6:30PM to 7:00PM immediately before each regular Town Council meeting. This Public Forum has been a productive time that has enhanced communication.Post Office Bulletin Board:
The bulletin board has been an effective communication tool that provides updated information about Town Council activities, thanks to Angie Murphy, our Town Clerk.Public Works Building:
Plans are underway to build a facility that will allow the Public Works Department to protect its heavy equipment from the weather and also to provide a place for people fighting fires, removing snow, etc. to stay overnight as needed. The building will be located behind the current MRA maintenance facility.Personnel:
Following the retirements of Jack Staggs (Police Chief), Steve Freeman (Public Works Director), Stefan Stackhouse (Finance Officer), and the resignation of David Currie (Building Inspector/Code Administrator), the Council took advantage of the opportunity to reevaluate personnel appointments for efficiency and possible savings of taxpayer dollars.
David Arrant was promoted to Police Chief after serving Montreat for 12 years. Barry Creasman was promoted to Public Works Director after 19 years in that department. Jared McIntosh has been hired for the vacated position of Senior Water Operator. CPA Erin Marie Wheeler is now our part-time Finance Officer. Presently, building inspections are being done on a contract basis. We are now sharing a Zoning Official, Adrienne Isenhower, with Biltmore Forest and Land of Sky Regional Council to cover our zoning and code enforcement responsibilities. Alex Carmichael is completing his first year as Town Administrator. He has kept a steady hand and level head through an eventful first year. Angie Murphy is our Town Clerk, and we recognize her as Clerk Extraordinaire.Congratulations:
The Town of Montreat has been named a Tree City USA and again been awarded the title of Community Wildlife Habitat for the 12th year. The Tree Board has been selected as a recipient of a $4,994 grant from the North Carolina Forest Service. The “Save Our Hemlocks” campaign by Montreat Landcare was a big success, thanks to your generosity.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Tim Helms, Mayor
Town of Montreat
Montreat Designated as a Community Wildlife Habitat for the 12th Year
Montreat Landcare Chair Martha Campbell presented Mayor Tim Helms and Environmental Commissioner Ann Vinson with the Community Wildlife Habitat Certificate. This is the 12th year that Montreat has received this designation from the National Wildlife Federation. The Town of Montreat was one of the first municipalities in the State to receive this honor.
What to Do in an Emergency?
Recently several people have asked about planning for an emergency. If we ever have to evacuate, what is the best way to get out of Montreat? The answer to that question really depends on the nature of the emergency. If there is a forest fire for example, the location of the fire will dictate the best avenue for evacuation. The best response to other types of emergencies may be to shelter in place. There is no one evacuation route or response for all scenarios.
So what can you do to get emergency-specific information?
The Montreat Police department, in consultation with other Town staff and input from the Black Mountain Fire Department, has developed a map for primary and secondary evacuation routes. This is a baseline for emergency response - not a rule book. Remember, these roads may not be the best way out of Town in every emergency. But if you are interested, you may view the likely routes identified by staff at the map linked here.
If you have questions, please contact me at the office anytime. 669-8002.
Alex Carmichael, your Town Administrator
Montreat Tree Board Receives Grant
The Town of Montreat Tree Board has been selected as a recipient under the North Carolina Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Grant Program. The project, entitled “Town of Montreat Public At-Risk Tree Inventory and Short-Term Plan”, was selected among 10 other proposals this year and will receive a grant award of $4,994.
Town Hires "New" Police Chief
Congratulations to David Arrant who has been appointed as Chief of Police. David will be sworn in at the July 13th Town Council Meeting.
Town Council Regular Meeting
The July Town Council Regular Meeting will be held on Thursday, July 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Walkup Building. The Public Forum will be held at 6:30 p.m.. The agenda packet can be found here.
2017-2018 Sanitation Calendar
The 2017-2018 Sanitation Calendar is now available and will be mailed out later this week. There are some copies in the Town Services Office and a copy can be found at the following link.
Special Meeting of Board of Commissioners
The Montreat Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. in the Town Services Office, 96 Rainbow Terrace, Black Mountain, NC. The purpose of this meeting is as follows:
To enter into Closed Session in accordance with North Carolina General Statute §143-318.11(6) to interview candidates for the Police Chief Position.
The meeting will be convened and adjourned in open session.
Volunteers Needed for Tree Board & Board of Adjustments
The Town of Montreat needs 2 volunteers: one for the Tree Board and one for the Board of Adjustments. Please call Angie at 828.669.8002 ext 301 for more information. This is a great way to give back with minimal time commitments.
Notice of Special Meeting - Adoption of Final 2017-2018 Budget
The Montreat Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Walkup Building, 300 Community Center Circle, Montreat, NC. The purpose of the meeting is as follows:
-Adoption of final 2017-2018 Budget
-To enter into Closed Session in accordance with North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(5) to instruct the Town's staff concerning the position to be taken on behalf of the Town in negotiating the price and other material terms of a contract for acquisition of an interest in real property.
New Day for Public Forum
Beginning July 13th, the Public Forum will occur on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. just prior to the Regular Town Council Meeting at 7:00 p.m. Please come out and join us!
It's here!! Town of Montreat's New Sanitation Truck
Coming soon to a house near you!!! The Town of Montreat's new Sanitation Truck will be hitting the streets this week. It will hold more sanitation, can be used to plow snow and it's quieter than the old truck. Be sure and wave at Bill when you see him coming!!
Bi-Weekly Sanitation Begins the Week of May 29th!
Bi-Weekly Sanitation Pickup begins this week with pickups on Tuesday (due to the holiday) and Friday. Beginning next week, June 5th pickups will be on the regular Monday and Friday schedule.
Government Finance Officers Association News Release
The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded to the Town of Montreat by Government Finance Officers Association of the United State and Candad (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a signigicant accomplishment by a governement and its management.
An Award of Financial Reporting Acheivement has been awarded to the individual(s) or deparment designated by the government as primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning CAFR.
Congratulations to everyone who made this award possible!
Letter to Montreaters from the Mayor
Dear Montreat Community,
I want to continue to communicate with you about matters pertaining to the Town of Montreat.
New Town Hall: The Montreat Town Council voted earlier not to build the new town hall on the Florida Terrace property, and it has now voted to start the rezoning process on the Florida Terrace property to residential from resedential/institutional. The process will take several months. The Town is in negotiation with the Mountain Retreat Association about the purchase of the site just outside the Gate for the new town hall.
Chief Jack Staggs Retires: Jack Staggs has been a popular presence around Montreat for years, and he will be missed. His retirement party brought out hundreds of people to bid him farewell after his many years of service to the Montreat and Black Mountain communities. Montreat Captain Dave Arrant is serving as the Interim Police Chief.
Communication Board: Check out the Town of Montreat Communication Board in the Post Office to see the way Town Clerk Angie Murphy is effectively reaching out to the community. Great job, Angie!
Tim Helms, Mayor
Addition to the Mayors Most Recent Letter to Montreaters
I want to clarify information stated in my last communication to you. To ensure any actions taken by the Town Council regarding the Texas Road Bridge are taken in proper sequence, the earlier decision by the Town Council for there to be no vehicular bridge at Texas Road was rescinded. I will keep you informed of future decisions on this matter.
Tim Helms, Mayor
Town of Montreat
Letter from Mayor Helms
The Montreat Town Council and I want to keep you informed about matters pertaining to the Town of Montreat. Since my last letter to you in early July, there is additional information that I want to share with you.
I recently appointed a Citizen Town Hall Committee, chaired by Brinkley Melvin, to study details pertaining to a new Town Hall. The Town Council voted not to build on Florida Terrace, so a decision needs to be made on another location. The committee will seek information and make recommendations to the Town Council on the location and size of the new building. This Town Hall Committee will meet on Thursday, September 15th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Walkup Building. You are encouraged to attend to give your input and to listen to the information pertaining to this important decision.
The Town Council voted that the present bridge on Texas Road, which has been closed for about 8 years, will not be used as a vehicular bridge. The Council is considering other possible actions regarding a bridge, and the recommendations from the Bridge Committee will be considered.
The new Interim Town Administrator is Al Richardson replacing Ron Nalley who resigned to accept a job at Lake Lure. Al was the Town Administrator in Black Mountain earlier and also served as an Interim Town Administrator for Montreat before Ron Nalley's arrival.
Please feel free to give us your input using the emails below for me and for our commissioners. To improve communication, remember that the public is invited to a Conversation with Commissioners on the first Thursday of each month from 6:30-7:00 p.m., prior to the monthly Agenda Meeting. Any topic can be discussed, and there can be dialogue with us. The next meeting is Thursday, September 1.
Tim Helms, Mayor
Mayor Pro Tem Fouche firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor's Message to the People of Montreat
The following letter was read by Mayor Helms at the Cottagers Meeting on July 2nd, 2016:
This is the first message from me as Mayor to you, the taxpayers of Montreat. The Town Council, staff and I value all of you in this wonderful community that we are privileged to be a part of, whether you live here all the time or divide your time in different places.
First, let me say that I am happy to report that there will be no tax increase in the coming year! As you are aware, your new Town Council and I inherited a heavy agenda involving a new town hall on Florida Terrace and a large bridge on Texas Road. We have addressed these major challenges from day one, and here is what has been done so far:
We have placed the Texas Road Bridge on hold. I appointed a Citizen Bridge Committee to work with members of the community and State and Federal Government officials to find a solution which serves Montreat best, now and in the future. The Bridge Committee held public meetings and made recommendations to the Town Council on June 2. See the committee’s list of recommendations which is attached. I would like to congratulate and thank the Chairperson, Alice Lentz, for her pleasant and efficient leadership, as well as the members of the community who served so diligently on the committee with her. The Town Council will address their recommendations in the near future.
The Town Hall on Florida Terrace was estimated to cost more than $2.25 million. In December, 2014, a lawsuit brought by five Montreat taxpayers resulted in the court ordering the Town not to proceed with the project until the lawsuit had been decided. In December 2015, the Plaintiffs (Montreat taxpayers who brought the suit) offered to settle the lawsuit. The new Town Council rejected the Plaintiffs’ initial offer and deliberated on how to (1) save taxpayer money by settling the lawsuit that could result in significant additional costs from months of depositions and trial, (2) expedite finding an appropriate location for a much-needed new Town Hall, and (3) obtain a clear title to the Florida Terrace property to allow for the sale of the property.
The Town Council found it necessary to put aside a natural objection to paying some portion of the requested Plaintiffs’ legal fees. The Town Council attorney advised us that if the Town Council did not settle and the case went to trial that it was possible that the Town could be ordered to pay all of the present legal costs plus the additional fees accumulated during the trial and possible appeal. To stop the accumulation of legal fees and to allow the Town to move forward with the acquisition of a site for a new Town Hall, the Town Council agreed (in a 3-2 vote) to settle the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $50,000 of the $66,000 legal fees incurred to date by the Plaintiffs. It is my understanding that this money will be distributed on a pro rata basis to the Plaintiffs and the 110 Montreat contributors who supported the lawsuit. I agreed with the Town Council’s decision to settle following the Town Attorney’s opinion that the Town could be made to pay all the costs if they went to trial. The risk of losing more money was too great. Most civil lawsuits are settled (reportedly 80 to 97%), so the Town’s decision (3-2 vote) to settle was not unusual in order to end the spending. The Town Council also voted to pay the additional related legal fees incurred during the litigation process. With this settlement comes a clear title to the Florida Terrace property allowing it to be sold. I believe the Town Council will support my strong view that we should spend significantly less that the proposed $2.25 million Florida Terrace Town Hall for our small town.
At the request of a concerned Montreat citizen, the Town established a Reconciliation Fund for those who would like to help defray the cost of resolving the lawsuit filed in opposition to the Florida Terrace town hall. Those who contributed to the lawsuit will be receiving money back and they may choose to donate all or part of that money to the Town Fund to help pay the legal fees. There may be others who may not have supported the lawsuit but who want to help the Town resolve this divisive issue.
With the approval of the Town Council, I will appoint a Town Hall Committee of taxpayers along with one or more commissioners to ascertain the will of the community regarding the size, style, location and costs of a new Town Hall. I will ask for their recommendations to be presented to the Town Council by September 2016.
The Town Council approved a trial solution to the garbage service which was initiated on May 30 and entails the use of preprinted, colored bags when garbage is brought to the Town Services Office, Monday-Friday. Please see the attachment for details. Commissioner Kent Otto graciously agreed to provide a trailer for garbage at the Gate on Saturday mornings, 7:00-11:00 a.m., as a volunteer service to those leaving on Saturday mornings. We realize that the disposal of garbage is important, and procedures will be reviewed and adjustments made to meet your needs.
Once these high priority matters are underway, I will work with the Town Council and our committees to review our regulations along with the structure and costs of our Town government. We will keep you informed of progress on the bridge and the new Town Hall and new developments as they arise. The Town Council and I welcome your suggestions and questions. The public is now invited to speak and interact with the Town Council on the first Thursday of each month, 6:30-7:00 p.m., before the start of the Agenda Meeting. Also, please check the Town of Montreat board at the Post Office and the Town of Montreat website (www.townofmontreat.org) for information. If you are not on the Town’s Sunshine List for Town Communications, please add your email to that important list by logging into the Town website. We are dedicated to serving you and to communicating with you as we work for the Montreat we all want.
Town Administrator Ron Nalley has accepted a position at Lake Lure starting August 1 and has submitted his resignation. Along with the community, I wish him well with his new expanded duties in a larger town, and we thank him for all he has done for Montreat. I encourage you to come to the Walkup Building at 6:30 p.m. on July 14th, prior to the regular Town Council meeting, to offer your thanks and good wishes to Ron before he leaves.
Tim Helms, Mayor
Expanded Program for Disposal of Trash and Recyclables
The Board has approved the following changes to the Town of Montreat's Sanitation Services:
On May 30th, the Town of Montreat will begin a new, expanded program for disposing of trash and recyclables. Because the trash compactor site located behind the Town Services Building will be closing to the public, the Town will be accepting the specially printed green trash bags and the specially printed blue recycling bags. For your convenience, Town Staff will be distributing one of each bag to each household, free of charge beginning the week of June 6th. Additional trash bags and recycling bags can be purchased at the Town Services Building. A box of five bags is $5.00.
The new program is quite simple. Should you, or someone staying at your home, need to dispose of small amounts of kitchen or household trash or recyclables outside of the regular pickup schedule, the filled pre-printed bags can be dropped off at the Town Services Building between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. ONLY the special pre-printed bags will be accepted by the Town for disposal at the Town Services Building. A special collection area has been built to accommodate the bags. Just ask any Town employee for instructions on where to place the bags. Out of courtesy, please do not leave the bags in the parking lot, outside the building or along the fence. NC General Statute 14-399 regulating littering and illegal dumping will be enforced.
The weekly curbside pickup schedule WILL NOT change, and you WILL NOT need to purchase the special bags if you use our curbside or backdoor service.
We hope that you find this new program a safer and more effective method of disposing of extra kitchen garbage and recyclables that often accumulate during the week. The new system will help to reduce the illegal dumping and to resolve safety issues and concerns at the compactor site.
Should you have questions or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at (828)669-8002.
Montreat Receives Tree City USA Designation
Congratulations to the Town of Montreat for becoming a Tree City USA! In
Shane Baker, NC Forest Service, was on hand to present the plaque to Mayor Tim Helms and Commissioner Ann Vinson (Chair of the Tree Board) at April's Town Council Meeting. Special Thanks to Bill Seaman for his hard work preparing for the Awards Ceremony, for Joe Standaert and his wonderful photography skills and for Montreat Landcare for their year round efforts in preserving our Tree Canopy!!
First Release of the "Lari" Beetle
The Town of Montreat is pleased to report that the first successful release of 125 Laricobius nigrinus "Lari" beetles was made on September 25th at the Post Office in Montreat. The beetles arrived by FedEx overnight shipment from Tacoma, Washington and were released by John Johnson and Rusty Frank. A couple thousand beetles are expected to be released over the next year to help stop the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid within Montreat. The release of the beetles are part of a "Save Our Hemlocks" campaign sponsored and administered through Montreat Landcare. Funding for the project was made possible by generous donations from Montreat residents and institutions. Support and partial funding was provided through the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For more information on the Program, visit www.savehemlocksnc.org.
Compactor Site Changes
Beginning June 9, 2015, the Town will alter the operation of the Compactor Site located behind the Town Services Building in order to help accommodate the sanitation disposal needs of our residents and visitors as well as to ease unauthorized use and illegal dumping at the site. On that day, the compactor site will be open for a fee, with revised hours of operation and staffed by an attendant. The site attendant will collect your bags, manage the fee payment and lock box, and place the bags inside the compactor for you. Revised hours of operation and the new fee schedule can be found here. No changes are being made to the existing curbside or backdoor garbage collection schedule.
Proposed 2015-2016 Fiscal Year Budget
The proposed 2015-2016 Fiscal Year Budget was presented to the Board and public on May 21. There will be a public hearing to receive comments on the budget document on June 11 at 7 p.m. or as soon thereafter as possible in the Walkup Building. Print copies are available in the Town Services Office upon request.
2015-2020 Capital Improvements Plan Adopted
Online Credit/Debit Card Payment Now Available
Credit or debit card payments for a number of Town-related bills and fees can now be made online here, or in person at the Town Services Office.
If you see a suspicious person or vehicle, burning of leaves or brush, a possible water leak or something that needs attention quickly but is not life-threatening, please call the 24-hour non-emergency police and fire dispatch numbers listed below. This service covers both the Town of Black Mountain and Montreat, so don't hang up thinking you've gotten the wrong number. Refrigerator magnets with these numbers are available in the Town Services Office. Your calls are welcomed and are important.
P. O. Box 423 | Montreat, NC 28757 | P: 828.669.8002 | F: 828.669.3810