I hope you are appreciating our quirky mountain weather. If we don’t like it, all we need to do is wait a bit.
- Public Forum questions/comments included:
- Emory Underwood appealed to the Board that as we begin the long term planning process, that we seriously consider the balance of growth in the higher areas of Montreat with the need for effective stormwater controls. He commented that there will most likely be development, but we have to make sure runoff is dealt with effectively. As he commented, “Whatever we do up high, we need to be careful of what happens at the bottom.”
- Ann Vinson shared about two upcoming Tree Board meetings. The regular February meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 25 at 9:30am. A representative of Duke Power will be at the meeting to discuss Duke’s use of spray herbicides that kill vegetation and small trees under power lines. Citizens had expressed concern about the issue last July and we asked the Tree Board to meet with Duke to learn more and express our concerns about their practices. It took five months before a meeting could be scheduled. The public is invited and urged to attend. The location will be in the Swannanoa Room of the Allen Building. Ann also stated that a special called meeting of the Board will be held on Tuesday, February 18 to discuss the upcoming tree inventory. The meeting will be at 9:30 in the Town Services Offices.
- Martha Campbell wished everyone a happy Valentine’s Day and shared candy. She also spoke about the Landcare Committee’s working session held earlier in the day. The purpose was to inform and train volunteers as Citizen Scientists who will be conducting monitoring studies in Flat Creek starting in April and running through the summer. It is an important effort and if you are interested in the health of Flat Creek and our watershed, contact Martha at [email protected] to be a part of it.
- After the Town Council Meeting was called to order, Commissioner Lentz gave an update on the addressing issue. She indicated although it is a slow, long process, some progress is being made. Google Maps is accepting corrections to Montreat addresses when you make edits. She encouraged everyone to go to Google Maps (www.google.com/maps), enter your address, then edit it by deleting “Black Mountain, NC 28711” and adding “Montreat, NC 28757”. She also said PO personnel and Angie Murphy are working together to build a database of street addresses and PO Boxes of all Montreat homes.
- Town Administrator, Alex Carmichael, presented the Phase One Design Report on the Texas Road Bridge, which offers recommendations on work needed to convert it to a pedestrian bridge. The Town Council and Bridge Aesthetics Committee will review the report to determine next steps.
- Under my communications, I thanked Public Works Director, Barry Creasman, and his staff for the excellent work they have done in keeping storm drains clear given the 10 ¾ ” of rain we have had since January 1. I also gave a brief update on the Greybeard Trail road repairs. The weather has slowed things down this week, but they are nearly two thirds completed. We’ll give a more detailed report in the Montreat Minute.
- Alex reported on a very productive meeting with the NC Department of Emergency Management, the department responsible for reimbursing the Town for work to repair the damages from Tropical Storm Alberto. The Town has incurred $143,000 in costs for repairs yet has not been reimbursed for those expenses as promised by the state. The results of the meeting encouraged Alex that we should be receiving reimbursement in the next few weeks.
- Barry Creasman, Dir. of Public Works, indicated compaction has been completed for the new Public Works building foundation and he expects the footings and slab will be poured next week if the weather cooperates.
- During the Public Comment period:
- Clary Phipps shared her discouragement with the address issue, giving several frustrating examples, including trying to obtain her driver’s license renewal. Mary Standaert concurred with Clary and encouraged everyone, especially the Commission, to reach out to the Elections Board to express concern over the issue.
- Bill Scheu, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission,gave a brief update on the work of the Commission in reviewing the Town’s ordinances. He indicated they are approximately three fifths complete and are hoping to provide a final report by the end of March. He invited participation at the March 3 meeting where the Committee will be reviewing sign and parking ordinances. The meeting is at 10:30am in the Walkup Building.
- Under New Business, the Commission discussed and acted
on the following:
- Approved a motion to approve a budget amendment reallocating funds in the amount of $5,000 from the Streets Department to Contracted Services.
- Deferred awarding a contract for municipal finance software pending further analysis of options.
- Approved a motion to award a contract for real estate services for the remaining Florida Terrace lot to Keller-Williams real estate.
- Approved a motion for a copier lease and service agreement with Image Solutions.
- Approved a motion to engage in a service agreement for the trade of Police Department firearms toward the purchase of new firearms at a cost of $533.
In Commissioner communications, Commissioner Widmer thanked the community for completing the planning survey that will help give direction to the Commission for future planning. Commissioner Lentz reminded and encouraged everyone about the upcoming Tree Board meetings.
I reviewed the upcoming meeting schedule then we adjourned into Closed Session to take care of additional business.
Upon returning from Closed Session, the Commission:
- Ratified the hiring of Debbie Taylor as a part time billing clerk, 12 hours per week
- Approved minutes from 2019 Closed Session meetings and agreed they remain sealed
- Agreed to conduct Alex Carmichael’s annual evaluation in the same manner as last year
As an aside, I wish Alex Carmichael and his family well on an extended and much deserved family vacation to the west coast. Alex will return to the office in early March.
All of us on the Board thank you for your support and encouragement. Please write me at [email protected] or call me at 919/801-8618 if you have any questions or comments regarding this summary or anything happening in the Town.
Have a great weekend,
Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council