Mayor’s Summary of the July 14th Town Council Meeting

Hello Montreaters,

The Council and staff and approximately 6 attendees for the Public Forum and 12 for the Council meeting convened while others joined by Zoom. If you would like to view the recording, CLICK HERE. Here is my summary of tonight’s meetings. Remember you can read the complete, official summary in the meeting minutes that will be published next month.

Public Forum

  • Laurie Morgan asked for an update on the amount the Town has spent thus far on the Hotel/Lodge issue and appeal. Interim Town Manager, Ben Blackburn, stated that as of this date, the total is approximately $140,000.

There were no other questions or comments.

Council Meeting

  • In my communications:
    • I let everyone know that Commissioner Alexander, who had hip replacement surgery earlier today, is doing well in her recovery. Our best wishes and prayers go out to her.
    • I corrected a misstatement I made at last month’s meeting regarding the plaintiffs in the Special Use Permit appeal. I stated they were deposing the members of the Board of Adjustment. In reality, the plaintiffs have submitted “discovery” questions to be answered by the Board members. They have not been “deposed” and may not be. I regret my misstatement.
    • I thanked all the individuals involved with our successful 4th of July celebration. In particular, thanks to Commissioner Otto and Matt Ashley for organizing and implementing the 5K race. Appreciation goes to our Police officers for their service ensuring the safety of all guests and efficient traffic control and the Public Works staff for their varied services as well.
  • In Administrative Reports:
    • Mayor Pro Tem Widmer pointed out the 11 month finance report showed that staff has worked hard at holding down expenses to the point that the Town is $200,000 under budget in YTD expenses. We are most grateful for staff’s attention in containing their expenses.
    • Commissioner Otto asked Police Chief David Arrant if the Police Log is public information. The indicated that yes it is, except for some protected information that would be redacted in the log. Commissioner Otto then asked the Chief what are the most common types of calls to which the officers respond. He responded that there are many types, including EMS and fire calls, alarms, parking issues and traffic stops. A summary of the types of calls is included in the monthly Police Administrative Report.
  • In Public Comments:
    • Kate Hayner thanked me for meeting with her and others involved in the Hotel/Lodge appeal and for correcting my misstatement.
    • Harry T. Jones also thanked me for meeting with him and the others involved in the appeal and correcting my misstatement. He expressed the importance of the clarification and that the town and appeal plaintiffs are equally committed to a fair process and open communication. He read a prepared statement further outlining their position on the miscommunication.
    • Mary Standaert complimented the Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission for adopting the Conditional Zoning process as an alternative to variances.
  • Under New Business
    • We held a Public Hearing regarding the Conditional Zoning (CZ) Request for 159 Mississippi Ext., owned by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Mader.
      • Neighbor Mark Oliver expressed his opposition to the request and asked that an additional condition be added regarding an electrical issue affecting him
      • John Noor, representing the Mader family, explained the CZ request and answered both board and attendee questions.
      • Mary Standaert asked how the conditions in the CZ Request will be monitored and enforced. Mr. Noor responded that responsibility will be with the Town Zoning Administrator. Commissioner Blake added comments about enforcement and the tie to zoning violations.
    • After a thorough explanation of conditional zoning by Commissioner Blake and subsequent discussion, the Council then approved the Conditional Zoning Request.
    • The Council then approved amendments to the Code of General Ordinances to account for the new form of government.
    • They also approved a Public Hearing regarding Closing and Removing from Dedication a portion of North Carolina Terrace on August 11 at 7:00pm in the Community Room of the Town Hall.
  • In Commissioners’ Communications
    • Commissioner Blake provided an update on the bear hunter/dog issue. He and Mayor Pro Tem Widmer are preparing a mutli-faceted plan to address the issue, including 1) new and revised ordinances; 2) public information and public involvement; 3) communication with bear hunters; 4) increased police enforcement. He hopes to present the plan in August.
    • Commissioner Fouche congratulated the staff of the Presbyterian Heritage Center for yesterday’s presentation on Montreat’s 125th Anniversary at the Montreat Adult Summer Club series. Next week’s presentation will be by John Casper, former fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and Shuttle Commander.
    • Commissioner Otto commented that he has seen many bears recently as well as many trash bags in the open and suggested there was a relationship between them. He asked Montreaters and guests to remember to place all trash bags in bear proof containers. He also said we need to work on dealing with the increasing amount of trash we are experiencing.

Thanks for your interest in and encouragement of the work of the Town. If you have any questions about this meeting summary or other town topics, 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