Mayor’s Summary of 3/10/22 Town Council Meeting

Hello Montreaters,

We had a small but enthusiastic group at our meeting tonight, while others joined by Zoom. If you would like to view the recording, CLICK HERE. Here is a summary of the discussion. Remember you can read the complete, official summary in the meeting minutes that will be published next month.

Public Forum

  • Martha Campbell asked if we had a summary of the Town’s costs for the MRA Special Use Permit hearings. I told her I had signed at least $50,000 in payment checks and we are expecting more. I told her we would get the current expenses and let her know. At the end of the Forum, I received the current amount from staff. To date, we have paid $74,000 in attorney fees, court reporter fees and other directly related expenses. Unfortunately, we anticipate additional expenses to come.
  • Jim Gibbs, President of the Mt. Mitchell Bear Hunting Club, returned this month to speak about the bear/hunting dog problem. He stated the club members do not condone the problems we have encountered caused by bear hunters (not their club members) and that club members will work with us to stop the incursions. They would like to provide input in developing the new ordinances. They want to be good neighbors to us and help with the “problem” hunters that disobey Town laws. I told Jim we appreciate his Club and know that the problems we’ve encountered do not involve his members.

Council Meeting

  • In my comments:
    • I  asked everyone to remember Ed Teters, whose wife Martha recently passed away. Ed was a long term Montreat auxiliary police officer. We wish Ed peace and want him to know our prayers are with him and his family.
    • Given the weekend weather forecast, I reminded everyone to move cars off roads in the event of snow. The snow plows are not able to easily navigate roads and remove snow with cars parked on the streets.
    • I asked Barry Creasman, Public Works Director, about the Assembly Drive detour next week. Assembly will be closed to thru traffic Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 4:30pm. Detours will be set up and clearly marked. For details on the detour and maps of the routes, CLICK HERE.
    • I also introduced our new Interim Town Administrator, Ben Blackburn.
  • During Public Comments, Martha Campbell informed everyone that the Federal Government, through ARPA, has allocated Buncombe County $27.6 million for projects and recommended the Town look into the program to see if we qualify for the project funding. I thanked Martha and asked Angie if she had information on the funding.
  • There was no Old Business, so the Council moved directly to New Business:
    • Grace Nichols and Patti Pyle presented a proposal on behalf of the Landcare Committee to establish a handicap accessible trail along Flat Creek near the Gate. Landcare would be responsible for the entire project, from planning and engineering to funding. After the Council asked questions, I took an opinion poll on the Council’s willingness to support the project. Everyone was in favor of Landcare further investigating its feasibility. Landcare will return with details and plans at a future meeting.
    • The Council continued to discuss changing the Town Charter to a Council-Manager form of government. After discussion, the Council approved a Resolution of Intent to change to the new form of government. Next steps include a Public Hearing on April 14 and a final vote for the charter change on May 12. For more information on this subject, see last month’s meeting summary and the official February meeting minutes.
    • Mayor Pro Tem Tom Widmer provided a Texas Road bridge status summary. This year’s budget includes $102,000 to complete phase 1 of the bridge repairs, which are focused on structural issues. We recently released a request for proposals for phase 1. Phase 2 involves primarily aesthetic enhancements. There is a possibility of receiving grant funds to complete this phase, but funds will not be available until 2027. The Council agreed to submit an application for funding, but expects the Bridge Committee will also investigate private funding.
    • I asked Commissioner Blake to summarize the draft ordinances (included in the Board packet) he has been working on to protect the town from hunting dogs and bear hunters. He said we could tighten up the existing dog control ordinance and initiate other measures. After discussion, the Council decided to defer action on the proposed ordinance changes and hold a public meeting, inviting key parties including residents, MRA, NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the Mt. Mitchell Bear Hunting Club, to discuss the proposed changes. The Council does feel ordinance changes/additions are the best way to solve the problem along with resident involvement.
  • In Commissioners’ Communications, Commissioner Otto reminded everyone that bears are active again after their winter naps. Please be careful and aware of their return.

With no more business to address,  I adjourned the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

If you have any questions about this meeting summary, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852.

Thank you for your support,

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council