Weaverville – For the first time in about a year, the Weaverville Town Council met in person for their regular monthly meeting on Monday evening (April 26th).
Absent for the auspicious occasion was Councilmember Dottie Sherrill, who was recovering from surgery, said Mayor Al Root.
After dispensing the approval of minutes, the council approved the consent agenda presented by Town Manager Selena Coffey. The agenda included a monthly tax report, several budget amendments (fire, public works, Cops for Kids, public works seasonal staffing and a road closure ordinance for the July 4th celebration.
Council also set a public hearing on the budget for May 24th at 6 pm and a Dry Ridge Historical Museum lease agreement for the new community center at Dottie Sherrill Knoll.
In the manager’s report, Coffey had only two items. First, a presentation of the fiscal year 2021-2022 proposed budget, and then an update on the US Cellular Permanent Easement. The cell company made an initial proposal of $217,000 for a permanent cell tower easement. However, at the council’s last meeting, the board made a counteroffer of $300,000 for that permanent easement with the possibility of some of this amount being a donation to the Community Center project to recognize US Cellular along with other donors. Coffey said US Cellular’s response was favorable with getting closer to the $300,000 amount established by the town council.
Fire Rating Inspection
The first discussion item was a report on the town’s fire department rating inspection. Weaverville Chief Ted Williams told the Tribune the rate had improved substantially from a Class 4 in town to a Class 2, and the North Buncombe District from a Class 5 to a Class 3. When asked what helped improve the fire rating, Willams attributed the improvements to training, reporting and the town allowing additional hirings over the last three to four years. He also said that commercial and residential owners should contact their insurance company after August 1st when the new ratings will go into effect. It could help with both residential and commercial insurance costs.
Community Center Update
In an update about the new Community Center at Dottie Sherrill Knoll, construction officials said June 13 is the new date of completion. When Councilmember Andrew Nagle asked if they would meet that date, the official said, “I certainly hope they will.” There is a $1,000 per day penalty for the construction company for not meeting that date.
EV Charging Station
The next item was the EV Charging Station project. The town got a rebate on the project cost.
“If the town council wants to go forward with this project, we do need to know tonight. Our time is running out on making this project happen,” said Coffey.
Councilmember Jeff McKenna then spoke about solar energy fueling the station and Councilmember Doug Jackson worried that non-residents would use the charging station. The project died for lack of a motion.
Eller Cove Watershed
Coffey then brought the next item, concern over the conservation easement on the Eller Cove Watershed. Officials are seeking ways to monitor activity to use the property under the conservation easement guidelines. Coffey told the board that hiking, biking, and ATV use are currently not allowed.
McKenna admitted that he hiked and rode bikes with a member of the Carolina Mountain Club. McKenna said the area is good for hiking but not for biking. He suggested that he and a couple of volunteers could maintain the area, but questioned how to stop ATVs from using the trails. Coffey said they posted signage and are checking into taking drone coverage of the area. Nagle said that the conservancy understands that there’s only so much that can be done to keep people off of the property. “This isn’t their first rodeo,” Nagle said. The mayor jokingly suggested a “shoot on site policy.”
The mayor progressed to the succeeding item, a non-discrimination ordinance. Root said that the ordinance, “had been an ongoing discussion.”
Though the non-discrimination clause was written on the agenda as an ordinance, it passed as a resolution.
“My personal belief is the resolution approach that’s been drafted for us tonight, I think, goes a long way to striking the right balance for the town where we are right now.”
Several council members voiced their personal feeling toward the resolution, and then all confirmed it (See related story on page 5).
Tanker Truck Sale
The town then voted to sell an unneeded tanker truck owned by the water department. Next, the council had a technical discussion about Land Development Regulations presented by Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson. They approved a $24,000 annual contract for audit service for the next three years. Finally, the board heard the financial and planning reports before dismissing the meeting.