New Council Members Tackle WiFi, Annexation - TribPapers

New Council Members Tackle WiFi, Annexation

Joe Quinlan (left) of Mountain Housing Opportunities presents Weaverville Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons with an award.

Weaverville – The Weaverville Town Council hit the ground running with two new members at a near two-hour meeting on Monday, November 22. Even before the new members were sworn in, Mayor Patrick Fitzimmons recognized past council members. First was a moment of silence honoring the life of former Councilman Gene Knoefel (see story page 3). Fitzsimmons then recognized outgoing Councilwoman Dottie Sherrill for her 32 years of service (see story page 1).

Next, the newly elected and re-elected members from the November election were sworn in. Patrick Fitzsimmons was sworn in as mayor and newcomer Catherine Cordell and Michele Wood joined re-elected Councilman Doug Jackson. All took the oath of office. The board then selected a vice- or mayor pro tem. Councilman Andrew Nagle questioned if it was even necessary to appoint a vice-mayor. After a short discussion, it was determined one was needed and Councilman Jeff McKenna was selected for the post.

New Agenda

A new agenda procedure by Fitzsimmons moved the approval of the meeting minutes into the consent agenda. Under the consent agenda, the council approved meeting minutes, the monthly tax report and several budget amendments. They also green-lit an intergovernmental agreement for the use of the Buncombe County 911 Call Center along with the budget to pay for $57,000 and a second reading of the code amendment: Section 1-6 involving criminal penalties. 

Board Appointments: 

•Larry Murray was appointed as an alternate on the Board of Adjustment to replace Suzanne Devane and in a term that is due to expire in September 2023;

•Jane Kelley, currently serving as an alternate on the Planning Board, was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Catherine Cordell’s resignation from the Planning Board for the remainder of that unexpired term which is due to expire in September 2023;

•Donna Mann was appointed to fill the alternate seat vacancy on the Planning Board created by Jane Kelley’s appointment to a regular seat, for the remainder of that unexpired term, which is due to expire in 2024;

•Tina Jenkins was reappointed for a new term on the Animal Control Appeals Board that is due to expire in November 2024;

•Harold Payne was reappointed to the Animal Control Appeals Board for a term that is due to expire in November 2022;

•And Leah Craig was appointed to the Animal Control Appeals Board for a term that is due to expire in November 2023.

Holiday Activities

In her manager’s report, Town Manager Selena Coffey told the board about the 2021 Christmas activities, the parade, which will be held on Saturday, December 4 at 1 pm and the Weaverville Business Association’s Candlelight Stroll, planned for December 10. The town has also submitted an application for the Tree City Award for the upcoming year. She reported, the council’s December workshop would not be a joint Planning Board/Town Council workshop but would instead focus on a presentation from David Hill. Hill developed the Comprehensive Pay & Classification Study. She also said a new council members orientation with the town’s department heads and key staff will commence soon.

Action and Discussion items

 The first item under the action and discussion item was the presentation of N.C. Housing Finance Agency Award to the town by Joe Quinlan of Mountain Housing Opportunity (MHO) for the 46-unit Lily Farm Cove project. Quintan presented the award to Mayor Fitzsimmons (see picture).

Next came a discussion of the public Wi-Fi Proposal for the downtown area and public parks. Coffey presented the item, explaining the town is working with Sara Nichols with the Land of Sky (LOS) Regional Council on a grant of $32,000 to help pay for the installation of public Wi-Fi for the town. However, the funds had to be taken advantage of by the end of December, so Coffey conveyed a sense of urgency on the project.

The town had three proposals to choose from in their deliberations, Skyrunner, Open Broadband and Spectrum. Plans including a one-time installation cost, monthly access fees and two-year reoccurring fees with Skyrunner come in the lowest at about $78,000. 

Fitzsimmons started reviewing the town’s plan when Councilman Andrew Nagle asked about using CARES money in conjunction with the LOS grant. Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson had doubts that it could be done. At this point, Nichols was asked to come forward and said that the town council could do that, but that LOS is working on the $10,000 funding gap to see if they could not come up with the entire amount. After some lengthy discussion of the financing, Roger Cordell, husband of newly seated Councilwoman Catherine Cordell, interjected with remarks based on his expertise from working in the telecommunication field. The council voted to accept the LOS funds for the project.

Robert Chason then presented the Weaverville ABC 2020-2021 audit. The financial highlights include:

The assets of the Weaverville ABC Board exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $432,110 (net position). Total gross sales increased by $515,606, which a 13.5 percent increase over the prior year. And the board’s total net position increased by $8,591, primarily due to increased gross profit, net of profit distributions to the Town of Weaverville totaling $337,686.

Chason also mentioned that the space was getting tight in their current location and the ABC Board is looking for expansion storage space. He was asked if the expansion completed by Woodfin ABC would affect sales and he said he did not believe so.

Council then approved code amendments in Chapter 20, which refer to flag lots and technical changes.

The board then heard the results of a Certificate of Sufficiency inquiry for the annexation Petition of 25+ Acres on Ollie Weaver Road. Town Planner James Eller said the certificate was approved and the next step was to send the request to the planning and zoning board. Nagle had some reservations about adding more water commitment, but Councilman Jackson worried about what it might become if left to the county. Nagle was the only dissenting vote when the vote was taken to send the request to planning and zoning.

The council finished out the night by going over the council meeting schedule and adjusting the meeting to start at 6 pm instead of 7 pm for citizens to be able to stream the meeting. They also heard reports from the fire and police departments before ending the meeting.

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