Mayor’s Summary of the July 8, 2021 Town Council Meeting

Hello Montreaters,

I hope everyone had a very special 4th of July holiday. It was sure good to see the Town back to normal with the parade, afternoon games, Friday square dance and hordes of people we missed last year.

The Council meeting brought approximately 13 people out in attendance. We live streamed and recorded it. To view the recording, CLICK HERE. As you know, an official overview will be in the meeting minutes in August’s agenda packet.

Here’s a summary of the meeting:

  • Public Forum questions/comments included:
    • Bill Scheu, speaking on behalf of the Planning & Zoning Commission, informed the Council of an inconsistency in the General Ordinances and the Zoning Ordinances about the requirement that all homeowners connect to Town water and MSD (Metropolitan Sewerage District) service. The revised Zoning Ordinance dropped such a requirement, but Bill stated there are several references in the General Ordinance that conflict with the revised Zoning Ordinance. He asked that the Council, if they desire, ask the P&Z Commission to work to resolve the conflict with the intention that the requirement be dropped from the General Ordinance. I told him we would take it up during New Business.
    • Priscilla Hayner expressed concern about the proposed new MRA Lodge/Hotel. She asked if the Commissioners had any ideas on how those opposing the development could meet in a meaningful way with MRA principals and discuss feasible alternatives to still meet MRA’s needs. She inferred that she and others would like to avoid this issue going to court. I told her I agreed they should continue to work with MRA- that it would be unfair to the Montreat taxpayers to pay for a lawsuit over an issue that essentially doesn’t involve the Town- but is between MRA and those opposing the project.
    • Wade Burns asked that the Town look at other General Ordinances that affect development in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), making it difficult to build on the lots there.
    • Harry T Jones asked the Council to consider and act on three questions:
      • How is the Comprehensive Plan being used and applied.
      • How could the additional infrastructure expenses caused by new developments be charged to users of those developments and not be the burden of the Town
      • What can the Town Council do to facilitate unity within the Town

I responded that the Comprehensive Plan had not been widely implemented since its inception in 2008. But much has changed and we budgeted funds to update the Plan in this current year’s budget. We will be asking the P&Z Commission, who is responsible for the Comprehensive Plan, to begin the process. Regarding Harry T’s second question, I said we have not considered this issue or user fees, but that we do receive a voluntary gift from MRA based on the number of bed nights they have in their hotel and lodges. It is not a large amount, but we are grateful for their donation. Finally, re. the last question, I frankly said that it is not the Town Council’s responsibility to bring unity to the Town. Ours is a governance responsibility– maintaining infrastructure like roads, the water system, stormwater systems and the like. It’s everyone’s responsibility to work toward unity.

  • Upon calling the Town Council Meeting to order, I thanked Town staff for their extra efforts during the festivities of the July 4th celebration. I also thanked Kent Otto and Matt Ashley who organized the 5K Gate Gait. I also reminded everyone that we will have 700 youth next week, so please be careful driving around Town.
  • Town Administrator Alex Carmichael shared that we have not yet received any of the ARPA Federal Funds to cover lost revenue due to the COVID crisis. There have been many conference calls about the use of the funds, but we have not received them as yet. He is confident that the estimate of $250,000 will be received as expected.
  • Regarding the Administrative Reports, Commissioner Fouche asked why there were not any year over year comparisons to 2020. Alex stated we did not have a July meeting last year, and no reports were generated. Commissioner Otto asked Public Works Director Barry Creasman about the Texas Road culvert repair. Barry said he is still awaiting drawings. Kent asked if we couldn’t put a time frame on it and get the project moving. Barry will work on it. Mayor Pro Tem Widmer thanked Alex and Darlene for a more complete financial report this month in response to his disappointment in last month’s report.
  • Under Public Comments, Tom Frist asked about the status of the Texas Road Bridge renovation. I told Tom that we have funds budgeted in this year’s budget to complete the first phase of the repair.
  • There was no Old Business, so we moved directly to New Business:
    • The Council approved the adoption of the Buncombe Madison Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan by a 4 to 1 vote.
    • The Council approved a motion to ask the Planning & Zoning Commission to resolve the conflict in ordinances that I mentioned earlier in this summary.  
  • There were no Commissioners’ Communications. I closed the meeting by reviewing the upcoming meetings and responded to a question about the fact that no Board of Adjustment meeting was listed for August. I stated that no Board of Adjustment meeting has been scheduled as yet but if business comes before the Board, a meeting will be scheduled.

Thank you for your support of and interest in the Commission’s work. It means a great deal to us and we thank you for your ongoing feedback.

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.

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council