Mayor’s Meeting Summary for 12/09/2021

Mayor’s Summary of the December 9, 2021 Town Council Meeting

Merry Christmas Montreaters!

It seems like just a few days ago that we were eating Thanksgiving turkey, but now we’ve got Christmas just around the corner. I hope you have special plans for this most wonderful time of the year.

Approximately 20 people joined the Council in the Town Hall tonight for the Forum and Council meeting. Others were live streaming. If you missed it and want to see the recording, CLICK HERE.

Here’s a summary of the meeting. Remember you can read the complete, official summary in the minutes that will be published next month.

  • In the Public Forum, the following comments were offered:
    • Grace Nichols expressed her appreciation to Commissioner Alice Lentz on behalf of the Landcare Committee and the Tree Board. With Alice stepping down from the Council, Grace thanked Alice for the excellent work and dedication she gave to her job as the environmental commissioner. She also spoke on behalf of Ann Vinson and the Tree Board, as Ann was not able to attend the Forum.
    • Eric Nichols read two emails from Jim Hamilton who lives in the Greybeard ETJ. The emails had been sent earlier in the day to the Council and Alex Carmichael and Jim asked Eric to read them publicly. Jim asked that the Council not take action on the agenda issue of selling water to homeowners in the ETJ but instead hold a public hearing to see how the townspeople feel about it. He also suggested that the issue be handed over to the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee, who will begin meeting in January.
    • I then adjourned the Public Forum as there were no further questions or comments.
  • At 7:00pm I called the Town Council Meeting to order. My comments were simple– I wished everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday.
  • In his report, Town Administrator Alex Carmichael thanked the Town Council for the delicious lunch they prepared and served to the Town staff just before Thanksgiving. He said the staff appreciated the lunch very much. He also reported that many of the Town’s advisory boards and committees will be seeking appointments and reappointments in January. If you are interested in volunteering for the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission, Tree Board or the Open Space Conservation Committee, submit an electronic application by CLICKING HERE or drop by the Town Hall to pick up a form.
  • During the Administrative Reports, Commissioner Fouche asked why there was such a large variance between budget and actual expenses for the Public Works building. Alex said he would investigate and report back.
  • There were no Public Comments either comment session.
  • In Old Business, Commissioner Alice Lentz stepped down after submitting her resignation last month effective tonight. On behalf of the entire Council, I thanked her for her four years of service. She sat down in the audience to a standing ovation.
  • In New Business, there was plenty!
    • After an administrative motion, I called for nominations for Commissioner candidates to take over the open seat. Commissioner Alexander nominated Mason Blake. There were no other nominations. Mason was elected unanimously by written ballot.
    • Town Clerk Angela Murphy administered the oath of office to Mason, while his wife, Amy, held the Bible during the oath. Mason then took his seat with the other Commissioners.
    • Police Chief David Arrant recognized reserve officers William “Mac” McClintock and Ed Teeters for their dedicated service to Montreat. Mac started on the police force in 2004, including a long period as Chief. Ed began his service on the reserve force in 1999. We are grateful for Mac’s and Ed’s dedication to helping keep Montreat safe for all of us.
    • Approved a budget amendment to transfer $4,500 for paying the increased cost of sanitation workers.
    • Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Buncombe County to provide backup permit and inspection services.
    • Approved a consulting bid from MS Consultants in the amount of $40,000 (with the balance due in the next fiscal year) for the Comprehensive Plan Update. This is a different firm than was recommended by Town staff last month, when the motion was tabled. After extensive conversations with both organizations, Alex, Mayor Pro Tem Widmer, and P&Z Chair Bill Scheu felt very confident in MS Consultants, especially after determining that the other firm would have cost at least $12,000 more than their original bid of $44,000
    • Did not act on a motion for a public hearing regarding establishing a stormwater review committee, the reason being that the review committee will not be formed until the next fiscal year. It will be acted on at that time.
    • Approved incorporating funding for a stormwater review consultant in the 2022-2023 fiscal budget.
    • Approved selling water to property owners in the Greybeard ETJ.
    • Approved a revised fee schedule to accommodate selling water in the ETJ and an increase in water tap fees to cover our costs.
  • In Commissioners’ communications:
    • Mayor Pro Tem Widmer reported on a conversation he had with P&Z Chair Bill Scheu just before the meeting started that the P&Z will likely delay their review of the sign ordinance due to a case before the US Supreme Court that could affect the work on the sign ordinance.
    • Commissioner Otto expressed his appreciation to former Commissioner Lentz for her hard work, depth of preparation and contributions on the Town Council. Other Commissioners expressed agreement. He also stated he is looking forward to working with Commissioner Blake.
    • Commissioner Blake also thanked Alice for her sacrifice and work on the Council.

If you have any questions or comments on the summary or any aspect of Town government, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852.

Thank you for your support and encouragement and as I said earlier, Merry Christmas to you and your family. Be safe.

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council