Civic

Town looks to Expand Council, Mayor’s Powers

A 2006 map shows the areas Weaverville (in blue) and Woodfin (in red) agree to stay out of the other’s area when it came to annexation.

WeavervilleWeaverville Town Council met for its last time in 2020 on Monday (December 21), and with that meeting, set about to expand the board’s members.

The meeting started off with a public hearing about a zoning change of 16 Reems Creek from I-1 to R-3. No one spoke at the meeting and it was closed with the council accepting the change.

During public comment, resident Steve Rotundo said the town should enact a ban on tobacco use in parks and public space. Mayor Al Root said this was an example of how the public could bring ideas to the board.

Under the consent agenda, the council approved the monthly tax report, two budget amendments, one of which was for the community center $32,107 for display cabinets, $2,250 finishing and installing reclaimed wormy chestnut wood from the old community center in the lobby and $8,549 for IT work bringing the total budget amendment to nearly 44K. Also, a public hearing on an annexation agreement between the town and Woodfin set a public hearing for the annexation agreement between Weaverville and Woodfin was set for January 25. The deal drew much discussion at last month’s meeting about a more even distribution of area between the towns. The latest map had changed (see maps) from the earlier one. They also accepted waterlines for North Ridge Commons Townhouse as part of the consent agenda.

Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey then gave her report, first asking the council for their consent to formally request the Buncombe County Board of Elections to move the town’s election polling site to the new community to which the board consented.

She told the board the town had closed on the USDA $2.5 million in bonds for the water improvements with a rate of 2.125% instead of the 4.0%, which will mean substantial savings over the life of the 40-year loan, said Coffey. She also said sales tax was up and that the town had received $88,119 of the allocated $120,853 in the Federal COVID relief funds.

The board looked at establishing a manufactured home overlay district public hearing in the action and discussion items to limit places where manufactured homes can be placed within the town limits. “In short, it would drastically reduce the amount of land within our jurisdiction where an individual could, by right, establish a manufactured home on an individual lot,” Town Planner James Eller told the council.

But the new 2020 map below shows a change to section one of the map. Maps courtesy of Town of Weaverville.

Root asked Eller where the planning and zoning board stood on the issue. Eller said that they were about 95% to a full recommendation and said that he expected a unanimous recommendation by the time of the public hearing in January. The board voted to schedule the hearing.

The next item was MS4 Stormwater Program Compliance where Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson told the council, “The EPA has come down pretty hard on the state…in order to make sure they are doing what they’re supposed to do in order to be fully compliant with the Clean Water Act which is trickling down to the local jurisdictions,” She went on to explain that an audit of the town’s efforts to comply has fallen short. “A lot of jurisdictions do not understand what that permit entails…Many jurisdictions are failing to fully comply.”

To further explain the depths of non-compliant that was going on, Jackson said out of the 46 audits conducted so far, only two jurisdictions were compliant. She explained that the state is giving the jurisdictions a limited amount of time to rectify this, starting with a complete stormwater management plan, which is due in about 90 days. “So that will be happening fairly quickly by staff and I’m going to take the lead person on that project,” she added.

Jackson said she was asking the council to pass a resolution stating that they planned to become compliant and asked for $5,000 for engineering fees associated with the project. The council approved the item.

With that, the council set about to expand the town council by amending the Town Charter to increase town council members from five to six, with the mayor having a right to vote on all matters. Jackson said, “There’s quite a bit of procedure in this [changing the charter] with the first step of that [expanding the board and the mayoral powers] is to essentially declare your intent to make those changes and to set a public hearing.”

She detailed the language of the change to the charter, saying the right of the mayor would not start until a new mayor was elected in 2021. With that election, six council members would be voted onto the board along with the mayor. Therefore, if the charter is changed, voters of Weaverville will have not just two councilmembers to vote in but three.  After some discussion, the board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing in January on the charter amendment.

After voting on a 2021 calendar and hearing reports from the public works and water department, the council voted to go into close session and then adjourned.

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