Montreat Minute 12/13/19

Montreat Minute for December 13, 2019

Mayor’s Meeting Summary of Last Night’s Town Council Meeting Merry Christmas, Montreaters

We were grateful for the 19 people who came out into the cold for this last meeting of the year. There was a lot of discussion, so here’s a summary. As you know, a full overview will be in the official meeting minutes in January’s agenda packet.

Public Forum questions/comments included:

o Nancy Midgette, who heads Montreat’s Firewise program, gave an update about the program. Working with the NC Forest Service, Nancy said a fire risk assessment has been scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020. During the assessment, the Forest Service will evaluate public and private property to determine levels of fire risk. This is the first of three steps for us to be certified as a Firewise community. Perhaps the most challenging step will be amassing 620 volunteer hours within a one year period. Trimming trees, raking leaves, even leafwork done by Montreat College students qualifies toward our totals. Email Nancy (midgette@elon.edu) with your hours worked.

CLICK HERE to read more of the meeting summary

Planning and Zoning Commission Hard at Work

As you may have noticed in the Mayor’s meeting summary, the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission is reviewing the zoning ordinances and will be making recommendations for updates to the Town Council. We thought you might like to know a bit more about their efforts. P&Z Chair, Bill Scheu, offered a brief overview:

• The Commission is reviewing Town zoning ordinances and other related ordinances with the purpose to simplify, bring them up to date, reorganize, and make them more fitting for our community.

• The result will be a more pertinent, understandable and practical set of ordinances that address current needs and situations at Montreat.

• As an example, there are definitions in the ordinances that don’t have any relevance to Montreat. Additionally, as was resolved at last night’s Council meeting, the need for multiple signatures on application approvals was eliminated.

• The Commission has heard from residents, MRA and College officials, contractors, real estate professionals and others regarding working with our ordinances. They continue to hear from people on special topics, such as Richard DuBose (MRA) and Chip Craig (Greybeard Rentals) regarding short term rentals.

• P&Z currently meets twice a month and hopes to make their full set of recommendations to the Town Council sometime in the spring. The Town staff and Council are most appreciative of P&Z’s work and the time and thoroughness in which they are taking on this responsibility.

Christmas Trees and Sustainability

With all the discussion about destruction of the world’s forests, have you wondered if it’s environmentally appropriate to purchase real Christmas trees? Good news: there is strong evidence that natural Christmas trees don’t hurt the environment and are much more environmentally friendly than artificial trees. Natural Christmas trees don’t come from forests, they come from farms where they are grown and tended just like other agricultural crops. Christmas trees grow best in higher altitudes and on rolling hills, which are often unsuitable for other crops. Further, they benefit the environment as they grow! They clean the air, create watersheds and provide habitats for wildlife. A 5’- 6’ tree takes approximately 10 years to grow that large, meaning a decade of contribution to the local environment. North Carolina (our WNC area) and Oregon are the two largest producers of Christmas trees in the United States. When you buy your tree, you’re supporting our local economy. Seek out local nurseries and the WNC Farmer’s Market in Asheville. Then, when it’s time to pack up Christmas decorations, simply put your tree out on the curb and Montreat Public Works staff will pick it up and dispose of it for you.

Progress Updates

Here are a few progress updates:

• We were having problems with the Greybeard Trail detour stop/go lights on West Virginia earlier this week. Engineers are working on the equipment and in the meantime, the detour has been suspended. We will let you know when the detour is operating again.

• Town Hall construction is moving at a fast clip! Most internal rough in work has been completed, insulation has been installed and dry wall is being hung. Outside, final paint selections have been made and if the weather warms up, watch for painting to take place. Final grading was completed for the driveway, meaning curbs and paving are next in line.

• Street work has been completed for the season. All roads scheduled for repair and paving have been completed. Thanks to Public Works for working hard to finish strong.

Upcoming Meetings/Celebrations

• Montreat Post Office Christmas “open house”, Tuesday, December 17, starting at 9:00am

• Planning and Zoning Commission, Thursday, December 19, at 10:30am in the Walkup Building

Have a great weekend!

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