It was an unseasonably warm day in Montreat on Town Council Day. Council, staff and approximately 20 guests met for the Public Forum and Town Council Meeting. My summary follows below. You can read the complete official meeting minutes in next month’s agenda packet. Or if you would like to view the meeting recording, CLICK HERE.
- I opened the Public Forum by remembering resident and avid Town supporter Shannon Ingersoll. Shannon passed away last week after a long illness. She was a long time member of the Montreat Board of Adjustment and most recently the Bridge Aesthetics Committee. She will be missed in Montreat.
- Martha Campbell asked some interesting questions about attorney fees in the ongoing litigation regarding the Montreat Lodge project. I advised her that as of of 12/31/22 attorney fees were $87,138.62 and staff time totaled $14,792 for a total of $101,930.63. She asked additional questions about the budgeting process concerning future attorney fees. She inquired as to how financial updates related to this and other litigation be shared with residents now and in the future.
- Tom Frist reflected on a recent email by Town resident Don Reid regarding the proposal of renting out the Town Hall as Event Space. He asked if the results of the survey that has been included in the Montreat Minute are ready for review.
- Mary Standaert suggested reaching out to Town Attorney Susan Taylor Rash about the specifics of renting out the Town Hall.
- Arrington Cox questioned the liability issues with regards to renting out Town Hall space.
- Bill McCaskill expressed his concerns about safety in blind curves in areas of Montreat. He suggested painting yellow lines in the tight curves.
- Mike Collie thought yellow striping would be a great idea. He also suggested trimming the foliage back in the right-of-ways to make the areas more visible.
- After I opened the meeting, I announced that Commissioner Tom Widmer was absent due to a recent knee replacement and Commissioner Jane Alexander was feeling a little under the weather. I again remembered resident Shannon Ingersoll who passed away last week. Her contributions to the Town were great. I also repeated the questions/answers raised by Martha Campbell with regards to ongoing litigation costs surrounding the Montreat Lodge.
- Interim Town Manager Ben Blackburn formally introduced Rachel Eddings as Finance Officer. Rachel came to the Town of Montreat in a part time capacity and really helped the Town complete a very important Powell Bill report right from the start!
- Under Public Comment
- Martha Campbell reflected on a recent news article about a brief filed in Superior Court against the MRA and the Town of Montreat. Martha expressed her concerns that it may be difficult for the Town to fill vacancies on the Town’s Board and Commissions if their contributions to entities in this Town will be published in the paper.
- Under New Business
- The Council voted to grant a request from the Mountain Retreat Association to place a new Wayfinding Sign in the Town of Montreat’s right-of-way for Assembly Drive between Community Center Circle and Lookout Road. Council also advised that if anything changes than what was presented tonight it must come back before Council for approval.
- The Council approved a Resolution #23-02-0001 Supporting Local Control of School Calendars.
- The Council granted an easement across Little Piney Branch to provide access to a lot to the east of Harmony Lane.
- The Council approved a parking plan on Lookout Road with 5 places being removed on lower Lookout section and 10 places on the south side of the upper Lookout section.
- The Council approved an Ordinance Revision for Qualifications as a BearWise
- Under Public Comment
- Tom Frist shared his concerns about the property owners on Lookout Road who are dependent on parking for their guests and visitors. He encouraged the Council to pay special attention to the property owners who had no other parking options. He also asked if it would continue to be permissible to place cardboard outside the bear proof trash cans.
- Arrington Cox questioned if the property owner could not be reached to pick up the trash and the Town did not have time who would be responsible for the trash?
- Mary Standaert thanked the Council for all their hard work on the parking issues with the College. She also expressed her thoughts on the fact that the College does not contribute to the Town.
- Mike Collie thanked the Council for addressing the issues on Lookout with regards to parking. He also pointed out that there are usually a lot of empty parking spaces behind the library for students to park.
- In Commissioners’ Communications:
- Mayor Pro Tem Blake:
- Advised that himself, Commissioner Widmer and representatives from Town Staff met with members of the Department of Transportation and the Land of Sky Metropolitan Planning Organization earlier this week about the Texas Road Bridge. The Council arrived at a consensus to direct Town Staff to enter into and negotiate a contract with Mattern & Craig to design phase 2 of the bridge at a 12 foot width with the funds to be paid from the existing budgeted funds.
Thank you for a wonderful meeting. If you have any questions or comments, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828-669-3852