Mayor’s Summary of the November 14, 2019 Town Council Meeting

Hello fellow Montreaters,

It was a cold Montreat night, but a few hearty souls came out for the meeting. Here’s a summary of what was discussed. A full summary will be in the official meeting minutes in next month’s agenda packet.

  • Public Forum questions/comments included:
    • Sally Stansil asked questions regarding the discussion from last month’s meeting about traffic and noise. She asked if there had been any discussion about raising the citation fee for speeding from $5.00, which doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent. Police Chief Arrant clarified that the $5.00 citation fee did not refer to speeding. Speeding tickets are similar to other jurisdictions and are significantly higher than $5. She also asked if plans had been outlined for cameras at the gate. At this point, there has been no discussion about cameras, but will be discussed. She also asked if there were any plans to create a buffer on the Kanawha hill leading up from the gate. No plans have been made for such a buffer, but I told her we would look into it.
    • Mike and Randi Collie, who live on Oklahoma at the top of Lookout Road, talked about the problem of hikers parking by their driveway, blocking them from entering and departing. Hikers park in “No Parking” areas and park their vehicles in the road, preventing other vehicles from safely passing. Traffic has increased with the growing popularity of the trails, causing significant parking and traffic issues. The Collie’s requested that MRA and the Town work together to solve this growing problem. I told them the Town would work with MRA to work towards alleviating the problem.
  • After the Agenda Adoption, Chief Arrant presented his department’s plan to deal with community concerns about speeding and other traffic issues. His plan includes higher visibility of the patrol officers, the use of radar equipment, employing a new “Your Speed is ______” sign, enforcement of speed limits with citations, possible addition of a three way stop at the intersection of Assembly Drive and Georgia Terrace by the Post Office and other tactics. We’ve already seen more “blue lights” and a generally higher presence, and we thank the MPD for their efforts. We will keep you updated on this important subject.
  • Three new police officers were sworn in, including Captain Trey McDonald, patrolman Virginia “Gin” Johnson, and reserve officer Mason Wright. We are currently at full strength, with a substantial stable of reserve officers. Thanks to Chief Arrant for being diligent in filling the open positions.
  • In New Business, the Commission took two actions:
    • Appointed Montreat Finance director Darlene Carasquillo as an authorized signer on Montreat bank accounts
    • Approved a contract for interior design services for the new Town Hall not to exceed $5,250
  • During the Public Comment period:
    • Mary Standaert reiterated her opinion on the decision by the Council to move to even year elections and lengthen current terms as Asheville, Black Mountain and Biltmore Forest did. She feels there should have been a general election instead.
    • Resident and MRA President Richard DuBose recommended that since the new Town Hall will likely be frequented by visitors, that interior deign plans should include information about the key entities at Montreat, including the College, MRA and the Presbyterian Heritage Center. We will definitely do so.
  • Other comments of interest include:
    • Public Works Director Barry Creasman said that work on Greybeard Trail will begin prior to Thanksgiving. It will take a few months to complete the project. A detour along West Virginia will be necessary, although Barry said they have worked out a plan to minimize how long the detour will be in effect.
    • Texas Road Spur was paved earlier this week, with plans to pave Kentucky, South Carolina Terrace and Wyck Road next week provided the temperature rises above 40 degrees.

Thank you for your support of the Council and our Town staff. If you have any questions or comments regarding this summary or anything happening in the Town, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 919/801-8618.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council