Weaverville – Only a couple of people spoke at a public hearing at the beginning of the Weaverville Town Council’s June meeting on Monday (June 27). The public hearing was on the annexation and rezoning of 25 acres between Garrison Branch Road and Ollie Weaverville Road for a 202-unit development.
Later in the meeting, the council would go on to approve the annexation and the rezoning to R-3, with only Councilman Andrew Nagle voting against the motion.
On the consent agenda, the council made several budget amendments, set a public hearing on code amendments and lighting regulations, and approved a resolution to add to the state highway system, which had to do with 1/50th of a mile added to Garrison Branch Road, and passed a proclamation on the centennial anniversary of First Baptist Church of Weaverville.
In the Town Manager’s report, Selena Coffey reported to the board that the Citizens Academy has a record number of residents with 30 participants, and that the council will have a joint meeting with the Planning Board, which is an annual event on July 19 at 6 pm. She also told the council that the first summer music event was a huge success, with a great crowd and good weather. The next event will be held on Saturday, July 9 at 6 pm in the Nature Park. She ended the report with the July 4 downtown celebration and this year’s performance by Ashley Heath, who will begin performing at 7:30 pm.
During public comment, at least 10 or more people spoke. Some people encouraged the board to give more support to the fire department, and others commented on the town’s plan to expand the water treatment plant and take more water from the Ivy River. At least one resident spoke in favor of taking more water, but most were against it.
James Henil of SaveIvyRiver.org, presented data that should have shown that back in 2008, the Ivy River could not have supplied the water that Weaverville would have needed. He presented a chart to all the council members, which he said reinforced his point (see chart).
The board also passed their just over $7.2 million general fund budget and just over $3.8 million for the water budget for the next fiscal year. There was not much discussion, as many of the questions and adjustments to the budget were worked out in the council’s workshop the week before the meeting. Councilwoman Cathrine Cordell asked if the town could not ask the county to raise the fire tax. She was told the county would like to see a 50/50 share between the county and the town before raising the fire taxes. Currently, more than 60 percent of the fire department’s budget is being paid by county taxpayers, with the town paying less than 40 percent.
In the end, the vote was 6-1 for the budget, with Nagle keeping his word not to vote for the budget unless it had a substantial increase in pay for firefighters (see the response by the firefighters’ association in the sidebar article).
The council also voted to supply water to a proposed single-family development on Clarks Chapel Road consisting of 13 homes on 8.89 acres. The project by Liam Cahill is located approximately two miles outside the town limits. It requires a 5,200 gallon per day commitment from the water plant, which all members but Nagle voted to approve.
The board then voted to approve a resolution to move forward on the water system recommendations made by Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons. The recommendations include:
1. Implement the water supply system resiliency improvements as soon as possible;
2. Develop a more conservation-minded water rate structure;
3. Apply for federal/state grant funds in conjunction with the Town of Marshall in order to aid in the expansion of the town’s water treatment plant and a more regional approach to public water;
4. Retrofit the water line connection to Mars Hill in order to provide Weaverville with emergency water and negotiate an emergency water supply for both towns;
5. Connect the town’s water system to the Woodfin Water District and negotiate a supplemental and emergency water supply from Woodfin;
6. Reconfigure the Town’s water system connection with the Asheville water system and negotiate a supplemental and emergency water supply from Asheville; and
7. Proceed with the water treatment plant expansion project with the timing to be determined in the near future.
Fitzsimmons pointed out that just because the board voted to follow the recommendation does not mean that all suggestions will be followed. “We are not approving anything tonight.”
As Vice Mayor Jeff McKenna pointed out, “We’ve been a single source forever and I don’t know anything in my business career or life where you put all your eggs in one basket.” He also pointed to Henil’s presentation about the low water event of 2008, which made him “very nervous.” Nagle expressed concerns over the price tag of the expansion of the water treatment plant. It was not a unanimous vote, with Nagle being the lone dissenter.