Mayor’s Summary of Feb 14th Town Council Meeting

gGreetings Fellow Montreaters,

There was a lively and involved group attending the February Town Council meeting. Those who attended were treated to Valentine’s goodies supplied by the Town Council to thank everyone for their support and to say “We all love Montreat”. Great cookies and candy! Here are the highlights from the meeting:

  • Public Forum questions/comments included:
    • The issue of moving to even year elections was discussed. I explained that last summer, NC General Assembly representatives gave us an overview of the upsides and downsides of moving to even year elections from our current odd year elections. Asheville switched to even years, and the other Buncombe County municipalities were asked to consider following suit. We studied and considered it for six months, then took action in December to move to even year elections, following similar decisions by Asheville, Biltmore Forest and Black Mountain. In so doing, we also followed precedent by the others of extending the Commissioner’s terms by one year to synch with the even year election cycle.
                  Several citizens expressed concern about not having a general election to let the community vote to determine who should fulfill the additional year. Others expressed that the current Council has the confidence of the community and going through a general election for only a one year term was not worth the time and added expense.
                  The Council and I are most thankful for how Montreaters are able to publicly speak about issues such as this, express personal views, and respect one another’s viewpoints.
    • A question was asked about the availability of Committee/Board minutes and information about individuals applying for Committees/Boards. Alex Carmichael, Town Administrator, replied that all minutes and applications are public record and available by request. He also said minutes are posted to the website, although some Committees have not uploaded yet.
    • The status of asphalting projects was discussed. Unfortunately, due to wet and cold weather, we were not able to get the paving done before the asphalt plants closed until spring. The work will be completed as early in the spring as possible.
  • In the Council Meeting, Police Chief David Arrant spoke about the Police Force’s concern about people besides bikers using the bike lane on Assembly Drive. It is a very dangerous situation when walkers, joggers, dog walkers and others use the bike lane instead of the paved trail. For safety sake, Chief Arrant asked that people obey the rules of the bike lane—bikers only.
  • In the Town Administrator’s Communications, Alex gave an update on the Town Hall:
    • The working team met with the interior decorator today to discuss interior and exterior details
    • The architect and his team are working on construction drawings
    • The Town is finalizing the financial audit, which is the first step in securing long term funding for the building
    • Three evergreen trees were removed for transplanting and the tree in the middle of the lot will be removed soon to prepare for construction
  • Regarding official action taken by the Board, there were four Budget Amendments approved to handle shifting and new fiscal needs (see below)
  • The Council approved negotiations with an engineering firm, Vaughn & Melton, to provide engineering services for the Texas Road pedestrian bridge project. This is the first step in converting the bridge to a pedestrian bridge. The next step will be renovation.
  • Three positions for the Planning and Zoning Commission were approved. Allen Crawford, Wade Burns and Sarah “Sally” Stansill were appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission. It’s always a joy to see citizens wanting to serve, but this situation was “over the top”. There were six applications for three positions. We felt very thankful to have such interest and hope those not selected will become involved in other ways.
  • Public Comments included:
    • A statement that the most important work of the Planning and Zoning Commission is stormwater runoff and they should focus on it.
    • A concern by property owners on Suwanee Road about major erosion issues at the corner of Greybeard.
    • An announcement by Tom Frist about a fund raising effort to help “Montreatize” the new Town Hall by adding architectural features that were eliminated from the basic project. Contact Tom (828-779-6959) for further information.
  • Commissioners’ Comments:
    • Commissioner Gilliland thanked citizens for being willing to serve on various boards and committees. The Town can’t operate without such volunteerism.
    • Commissioner Fouche updated everyone about the work of the Landcare Committee:
      • Montreat received yet another Tree City USA designation
      • Thanked the Tree Board for the fine work they are doing
      • Announced the “Stream Watch” program to make sure Flat Creek stays clean and pristine
      • Announced a new project to help the endangered Hellbender salamander population in Flat Creek reproduce more safely and effectively
    • Commissioner Otto thanked everyone for attending and reminded them that a BIG basketball game for Montreat College will happen vs Union on Saturday the 16th at 4:00. He urged everyone to come and support our College team.

There certainly is a lot going on in our small town. Please let me know if you have any questions on what was discussed or anything else for that matter. Write me at thelms@townofmontreat.org or call me at 828/669-3852.

Thank you for your confidence in our work,

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council

Besides the actions identified above, additional actions were taken by the Council:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • Approved a contract for installation of a waterline on Texas Road
  • Approved a budget amendment (#6) and contract to replace a well pump
  • Approved: budget amendment #4 to reallocate funds to cover health insurance expenses; budget amendment #5 to reallocate professional services for legal fees; and budget amendment #7 to appropriate funds for the maintenance and removal of public trees.

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