Mayor’s Summary of the 11/12/20 Town Commission Meeting

Greetings Montreat friends,

The Town Council convened with a handful of Montreaters sitting in the handful of chairs in the Community Room. Others joined us via our live Zoom broadcast.

Here’s a summary of the meeting:

  • Public Forum questions/comments included:
    1. Shirley Mitchell gave praises to Nancy Midgette for Nancy’s help and expertise in assessing the Mitchell’s house for Firewise preparedness. Shirley said, “Nancy is gracious, very professional, ‘knows’ her subject, and furnished us a written report.” Thanks to Nancy for her dedication to protecting our community through Firewise.
    2. Mike Sonnenberg asked a series of questions. We don’t have room to respond to everything he asked, but here are responses to key questions:
      • We will look into landscape changes at key intersections where vegetation is blocking views
      • We have a long term lease on the former Town offices, where we still maintain controls for the water system and are storing files. We still have water problems after doing many corrections. We are talking with the Conference Center about future arrangements.
      • We will look into adding lighting to the Town Hall sign
      • Budget questions will be addressed later in the meeting
      • We need three people on the sanitation truck because one person drives and two people do the pick ups, which allows us to get the work done in one day
    3. Bill Roberts and Mary Standaert each asked questions/addressed the issue of COVID-19 reporting by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on cases in Montreat. The reporting does not appear accurate. Mary has written Representative Ager to ask his involvement. It appears the erroneous reporting is related to our ongoing zip code issue. Commissioner Widmer has also been in contact with the Director of DHHS regarding this issue.
    4. Martha Campbell asked for an update re. the noise concerns that were raised at the October meeting. Ongoing discussions have been held with all the key parties involved. It is a long process and I appreciate everyone’s involvement and patience.
  • I called the meeting to order with all Commissioners present. We approved the minutes of past meetings.
  • I took several minutes to honor three special Montreaters who recently passed away. O’Neal Tate was a former Commissioner and subsequently deeply involved in Montreat Landcare. Bill Hollins was also a former Commissioner and, in my estimation, was a “gentleman’s gentleman.” Glenn Bannerman was not a Commissioner, but put life into our community. We will miss all of them.
  • The first order of business was to receive a report from Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Bill Scheu on recommendations to changes in the zoning ordinances. The P&Z Commission began working on revising the ordinances in February 2019, meeting twice per month. We are most grateful for the work of the Commission and will be addressing their recommendations through a definitive process to be established in the weeks to come. Members of the P&Z Commission to be commended for their work include: Bill Scheu (Chair), Mason Blake, Wade Burns, Allen Crawford, Dan Dean, David Holcomb, Bill Roberts and Sally Stansill.
  • We had some discussion about the Administrative Reports:
    1. Commissioner Widmer reinforced Commissioner Fouche’s request from previous meetings that comparative reporting on all department reports be shown like the Police Department’s reports. Alex agreed to do so.
    2. Commissioner Otto asked Chief Arrant how parking and traffic control is going near the trail heads on Lookout and Greybeard. The Chief said we are seeing unprecedented activity on the trails and parking is an issue. But the Police are monitoring and helping manage the situation.
    3. Commissioners Otto, Fouche and Widmer asked Finance Director Darlene Carrasquillo to highlight the financial reports and asked questions about the numbers. Overall, Darlene reported that revenues in the first fiscal quarter were better than last year and better than budget. Other positive news was that expenses are considerably under budget. Thus, the Town’s financial position is much better than we anticipated.
  • During Public Comments, Richard DuBose offered three comments:
    1. He commended the P&Z Commission for their work in reviewing and recommending changes in the zoning ordinances. Richard stated they took great care in thoroughly reviewing every ordinance and recommending changes pertinent to today’s environment.
    2. He appreciated my comments about Glenn Bannerman and his role at Montreat. Richard stated that he felt Glenn was Montreat’s most public leader in our history.
    3. He stated the trails are being used at unprecedented levels. He feels COVID is driving people outside and Montreat trails have become quite popular. He expects that once COVID is under control, we will not see a decrease in use of our trails. He also thanked the Montreat Police Department in helping with traffic control.
  • Under New Business:
    1. I administered the Oath of Office to our new Zoning Administrator, Scott Adams. Our previous administrator, Adrienne Isenhower, recently took a position with the Town of Woodfin. We welcome Scott and the excellent experience he brings to the job.
    2. We passed a budget amendment transferring $123,990 within the fund balance to be used for repair of the Texas Road creek bank up near the pool.
    3. We also approved Alex and me to negotiate an engineering contract with Civil Design Concepts to facilitate the Texas Road stabilization project above. Just as a reminder, this is a Tropical Storm Alberto project, which results in Montreat being reimbursed 75% of total costs by the state.
  • In Commissioners’ Communications:
    1. Commissioner Lentz reinforced both my and Richard DuBose’s comments about O’Neal Tate and his role in the conservation efforts here. O’Neal was the first Commissioner of Conservation.
  • We adjourned into Closed Session to discuss several personnel issues, then returned to pass the following two motions:
  • To terminate the employment of Thomas Dalton for cause.
  • To authorize Alex to hire sanitation workers.

If you have any questions about this meeting summary or any topic, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852. We appreciate your support and encouragement.

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council