It was my honor to lead tonight’s Town Council meeting. Mayor Helms had a last minute unexpected conflict. It was our first open attendance meeting since last fall, including our first Public Forum since November. As is our custom, we also broadcast the meeting live and had a number of electronic attendees but no one joining the Council and staff at the Town Hall. If you missed it, we recorded it and posted it to our Youtube page. CLICK HERE to watch the recording.
Here’s a summary of tonight’s meeting:
- Although we had a Public Forum prior to the Town Council meeting, we had no attendees and no comments/questions for the Forum. Thus, it was the fastest Public Forum on record.
- I called the Town Council meeting to order with all Commissionerspresentexcept Mayor Helms. We approved the minutes of the March meeting and both planning retreats with no changes.
- In my communications, I thanked the Planning & Zoning Commission for the work they have been doing on Zoning Ordinance changes for the past 25 months. I also stated that the Commission met this morning to discuss and vote on additional changes to the ordinances based on feedback they received from property owners. They will be summarizing the entirety of the changes and sending them to the Town Council for our review and vote. By state statute, the revised ordinances must be adopted by the Council by July 1. We will keep you informed as to how to access the updated revisions and our timetable to address them.
- Last month Town Administrator Alex Carmichael told us that the Town may be receiving a Federal payment as part of the Stimulus package up to the amount of $250,000. As of this date, we have not received any further details, but we remain hopeful.
- We appreciated the staff’s Administrative reports and had no questions.
- We received 11 public comments. Nearly all, 10 of the 11, were related to protests/objections to the proposed plans the Montreat Retreat Association has developed for construction of a lodge at the current location of the Galax House, Lord Apartments and Chestnut Lodge. Comments were received from: Julian Mims, Thad Ellett, Amy Diamond, Anita Rose, Henry McCall Swink, Robert Warner, Robert Warner, Nancy Jones Fox, Jeff Richey, James Simpson, the Bryant McEntire family, and Cynthia Simonds. We received a comment from Kyle Kirk expressing his displeasure at the responses of the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Town Council at last month’s meeting after receiving public comments. I thanked Angie Murphy for reading the comments aloud, although I initiated the three minute time limit several times as outlined in the Rules of Procedure. If you are interested in hearing the comments, go to the meeting recording by CLICKING HERE. Individual synopses of the entirely of the comments will be in the meeting minutes.
- There was no Old Business, so we moved on to New Business, of which there was one item. The Council approved a resolution for the disposal of surplus property, including an old photocopier, six telephone sets, and two utility sheds. The items will be sold on the government auction website, Govdeals.com. Contact Angie at [email protected] for further information.
- In Commissioner Communications:
- Commissioner Fouche informed everyone that the Presbyterian Heritage Center opened for the season today, April 8. Current hours are Thursday and Friday from 10:00a to 4:00p and Saturdays from noon to 4:00p. They will be adding additional days in the coming months. They are offering new and interesting exhibits. Go to their website, https://phcmontreat.org/, to learn more.
- Commissioner Otto stated that he appreciated tonight’s public comments and recognizes that emotions are high. He also complimented the P&Z Commission for their work. He has been pushing for Zoning Ordinance revisions in the five years he has been on the Council. He expressed concern that he has heard comments questioning the motives and integrity of the P&Z Commission and the Town Council and feels this type of discussion shuts down open and balanced discussion.
- The Council entered into Closed Session to discuss a personnel matter, and reconvened afterward, passing a motion to extend an offer of employment for Sanitation Utility Maintenance Worker to Andrew Brown at a salary of $32,613.
With many of us having received our COVID vaccinations, it’s easy to let our guard down. So please remain diligent about social distancing, wearing masks and other COVID precautions.
If you have any questions about this meeting summary or any topic, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 804/441-3679. Thank you.
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Widmer on behalf of the Town Council