Council Looks to Simplify Outdoor Lighting, Reduce Noise - TribPapers

Council Looks to Simplify Outdoor Lighting, Reduce Noise

Weaverville Councilman Andrew Nagle quietly makes a statement about Councilwoman Michele Wood's post by bringing a small fire extinguisher to the council meeting. Photo by Clint Parker.

Weaverville – At the Weaverville Council’s July meeting on Monday evening (July 25th), the council heard several presentations, reports, and updates. The meeting started out with a public hearing on a code amendment where the council wanted to simplify outdoor lighting regulations. No one spoke at the hearing.

Town Manager Selena Coffey then gave her report to the council, where she updated them on the Summer Music Series and position vacancies inside the town government. She said the fire department has received 15 applications for the fire chief position and will hold interviews within the next two weeks. She also said she would “not be advertising the deputy fire chief position at this point in time.” There are also three vacancies still in the firefighter and fire engineer positions, but Acting Fire Chief Ron Davis is reviewing three applications currently.

In other town employment openings, the town clerk position was advertised on July 1st. She said she had received only two applications to date, and public works continued to have openings for seasonal laborers.

She said that she and Doug Dearth will meet with Buncombe County’s” recently hired Recreation Director this week and will hopefully revive the Reems Creek Greenway project.” She also informed the board that the town was not awarded the grant that was applied for for the water treatment plant. She finished with an update on traffic calming at Lake Louise Park and that staff were not ready with traffic calming measures and recommendations for Lake Louise Park. She anticipated that this topic would be included on next month’s agenda.

The meeting was then opened to public comment where two residents called for the resignation of Councilwoman Michele Wood because of a Facebook post where many believed she was calling for violence after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade (read story on page 12) One of the speakers also said that Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson, who liked Wood’s post, should also resign.

Action and Discussion Items

In that report, Phil Barnett, who serves as the Chairman of the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, gave a recommendation that the town limit the size of buildings on Main Street to 5,000 square feet or less in order to try and keep businesses on Main Street locally-owned. The restriction will only apply to the C-1 zoning on Main Street and will force businesses looking to build a large facility to get a conditional permit. The board took the recommendation under consideration and it will now go to the planning and zoning committee.

The board then heard from Doug Dearth, a former council member and current town representative on the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) board, who updated the town on actions being taken at the utility. His report includes that MSD’s Chairman, Jerry VeHaun, who is also mayor of Woodfin, Weaverville’s neighbor to the south, was once again elected to the MSD board for another year.

The board then passed amendments to the outdoor lighting regulations and noise ordinances. The change to the outdoor lighting regulations is only to make it easier to understand. The noise ordinance now says that after 10 p.m., if an officer can hear or feel noise past the property line of where the sound is emanating, that is a violation of the ordinance and the resident can be cited.

The Council also took up three changes to the personnel policy. First, staff wanted to add the Juneteenth holiday to the town’s holiday schedule. Council Andrew Nagle proposed if they wanted to do that to take away one of the days off at Christmas, but switched to just following the state holiday schedule. Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons thought it best to just give paid time off and let employees decide how to spend it, but Councilwoman Catherine Cordell thought that would be a nightmare for managers. The council decided to follow the state’s holiday schedule.

In the changes, the town also provides for a 14-day overtime calculation for non-exempt employees within the police and fire departments, as allowed by law, which is a recommendation accepted by the council during the budget process and has been included in the FY2023 budget. The last is to add an opportunity for a name-clearing hearing for employees demoted or dismissed, which was recommended for legal compliance.

The board then reluctantly gave up remote and hybrid public meetings just before repealing the Emergency Declaration they had been operating under during the pandemic. While the council will continue streaming meetings, board members will no longer be able to vote unless they are present at the meeting. The council hopes that the state legislature will soon address this matter so that members can once again vote remotely.

The board then heard reports from the finance and planning departments. Town Planner James Eller said the town was once again on pace to match the growth seen over the last few years. The council then voted to go into an executive session with the exception of Nagle, who voted not to go into the executive session.