Weaverville – At the February Town of Weaverville Council’s meeting, the council members passed an ordinance that only allows manufactured homes on 13 parcels of property inside the town and expanded the council board along with the powers of the mayor. But, before the vote, the board took care of other business.
Under the consent agenda, the council approved the monthly tax report (92.73% collection), appointed Suzanne Devane from an alternate seat to the vacant regular member seat on the Planning & Zoning Board, and appointed Andrew Willis as an alternate to that board. The council members also approved a budget Amendment for ABC distribution of funds for alcohol education and law enforcement. Additionally, they accepted waterlines for the 828 North Project and Holston residences project along with the approval of an annexation agreement with the Town of Woodfin.
In the town manager’s report, Selena Coffey reported that the town had been awarded the Tree City designation once again, 26 years in a row. She also noted that sales tax was up 25% above what was budgeted but 3.1% below last year. She also said that the final inspection for the USDA water line was completed on February 1.
Mayor Al Root then asked for a moment of silence to remember two people who recently passed away who played essential roles in the town’s history. Root recognized the passing of former Town Attorney Carl Loftin and former Mayor Bett Stroud.
Action and Discussion Items
The board then moved into the action and discussion items, the first being the manufactured home overlay district and R-3 district’s approval. Town Planner James Eller explained to the board the action they were about to take. After presenting the overlay, he also discussed some of the public comments received.
After some discussion where Councilman Andrew Nagle said the staff did “a good job” of addressing concerns and comments received from the public, the council voted for the overlay and changes to R-3.
Town Attorney Jennifer Jones then presented the information on the expansion of the town’s water treatment plant, saying that WithersRavenel turned in a proposal of about $1 million over the life of the project for engineering services not counting about 20 hours a week for an engineer to check on the progress of the construction.
Jones told the council that the $6 million for plant construction given a few years ago was, according to WithersRavenel, “still in the ballpark.” Jones said they were asking the board to approve the proposal and the contract along with a budget amendment of nearly $338,500 to start funding the engineering fees as USDA funding would not be available until after phase 1 of the project was completed. She also wanted a reimbursement resolution to recover some money once a funding source is established.
Nagle asked if the council would be able to recover the $338,000 or would that be out of the “fund forever?”
Jones replied, “I do anticipate the town will have some money we will have to come out of pocket for…there will be some amount of town money that we have to put into it. This would count for that.”
Nagle also asked, who besides WithersRavenel did the town look at for the engineering? Jones stated there was no bidding process but a qualification process based on the plans submitted by about five companies and WithersRavenel was chosen on that basis. The motions were passed unanimously.
Council then voted to expand the town council board from five members to six and give the mayor voting rights on all matters after the next election. This means instead of two council members being voted on in the next election, three, along with a mayor, will be voted on.
Coffey then talked about a solar panel systems update. The three places the town is interested in putting solar panels on the roofs included the new community center at Lake Louise, the fire department and the water treatment plant. The council looked at three companies offering cost and systems proposals (Pisgah Energy, Sugar Hollow Solar and Sundance Power Systems) for solar systems at three different locations. Coffey asked for guidance since a change order would need to be issued for wiring at the community center quickly. The cost of the change order for the wiring would be about $2,300.
Councilman Patrick Fitzsimmons asked Coffey about tax incentives that might be available, to which she replied that there was a Duke Energy Rebate of $32,400 for the fire department and the community center, but the water plant is on the French Broad Electric system. Pennell said for the water plant, the power had to be sold back to French Broad Electric.
Nagle expressed that the solar could be done at any time. Coffey pointed out that the community center change order needed to be addressed. Councilman Jeff McKenna said it “seems like a nominal amount.” Nagle also asked about a discrepancy in rebates between two of the providers. The council approved the $2,300 change order for the wiring of future solar panels at the community center.
Jones also reported on the progress on the NCGS Chapter 160D Compliance Project update due by July 1st of this year, which will update the town’s development regulations that are required by new G.S. Chapter 160D and that reflect recent changes in policies, such as sidewalks, the subdivision review process, and the creation of a manufactured home overlay district. Root asked that the calendar for the hearing be moved back to allow more time before the deadline. No other action was taken.
The town also voted to stay with their long-time audit service, Gould Killian CPA Group, for the next year. The town also heard reports from the fire and police chiefs before dismissing for the night.