Council: No Voluntary Annexation, No Water - TribPapers

Council: No Voluntary Annexation, No Water

This Reems Creek Road project wants water. Council said make application for annexation first. Graphic courtesy of Town of Weaverville

Weaverville – Among other actions, the Town of Weaverville’s council made it clear to developers outside the town limits who want water for their projects to submit an application for voluntary annexation first. They made this clear when they took no action to supply water to a 160-unit development along Reems Creek Road. 

As the meeting got underway, Councilman John Chase recused himself from the discussion of the water request for the development as he knew one of the parties involved with the project.

The council then approved the consent agenda, which included approving last month’s council meeting minutes, the monthly tax report, a budget amendment for the police, and a renewal of the Tailgate Market Memorandum of Understanding.

Town Manager Selena Coffey gave her monthly report to the board. She said the town had “once again been awarded the Government Finance Officers Certificate of Achievement for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021.” She recognized Town Finance Director Tonya Dozier for “her continued excellent work in achieving this award and managing the town’s finances.”

She also said she would seek bids to replace the more than 20-year-old audio system in the council’s chamber. “As you are aware, we often receive complaints regarding our audio system over the years.” Coffey hopes to use wireless technology to replace the system. 

During the public comment period, several people spoke, including Kate Lane, representing the Weaverville Tailgate Market. She expressed her thanks to the town for allowing the group to use the new community center, saying it was in the best location and had great access for disabled residents like her son. “In the past 15 years of being a vendor at farmers’ markets, I have never found another farmers’ market in Western North Carolina as accessible as the new Weaverville Community Center location.” Another resident, Dennis Ponder, who owns the property requesting water, also expressed his support for the tailgate market.

Discussion and action items

After public comment, the discussion and action items portion of the meeting began with the board hearing from Dan Mullinax of Gould Killian, who presented the town’s annual audit, in which no deficiencies were found. He was followed by Weaverville ABC Board Chairman Rob Chason, who told the council the store was headed toward a $5 million year. He said the ABC Board had made a profit distribution of $372,475 this year.

According to the report, since the ABC store opened, it has distributed about $1.4 million to the town. Chason said the store was outgrowing its current location and was looking for ways to expand. 

The board next heard a voluntary annexation petition for a controversial 168-unit low-income apartment project at 171 Monticello Road. “Nothing is being approved tonight,” stated Councilman Andrew Nagle, who eventually voted against moving the petition forward. The town attorney confirmed Nagle’s comment, saying she expected the petition to come up for a public hearing along with a separate conditional zoning public hearing in January. The motion passed to send the petition to the planning board, with Councilwoman Catherine Corrdel joining Nagle in voting against the request.

After the vote, the board took up the initial consideration of conditional district zoning for the project. Again, the passage of the motion would only move the process along and not result in final approval, sending it to the planning board for their review and recommendation.

Members of the council had several questions and concerns for Town Planner James Eller, including about zoning, sidewalks, crosswalks across Monticello Road, buffers, and the current layout of the projects. The board voted to refer the project and their concerns to the planning and zoning department.Nagle was the only ‘no’ vote.
Water requests need to be preceded by an annexation request.

Finally, the council took up the water request for the 400 block of Reems Creek Road for discussion. Unlike the low-income apartment project, which the board had already approved on the condition of voluntary annexation, members of the council indicated that requests for voluntary annexation should come before the request for water.

Town Public Works Director Dale Pennell presented the project, saying it was a multi-family development of 160 townhomes on 17 acres with a clubhouse, pool, and dog park. He confirmed the town had a water line near the project and the water to supply the project, which is outside the town limits. Pennell said the town, with current usage and water commitments before this project, is at 69.53% capacity. With this project, the percentage goes to 75.77% of plant capacity.

According to Pennell, the state forces him to use an estimated 400 gallons per day per unit for his calculations for proposed projects. He said once the proposed developments come online, the actual water usage would drop to about 53.91% of capacity. He once again stated the time for a decision about the water treatment plant expansion continues to draw closer.

Nagle was the first to speak after Pennell’s presentation. “What I continue to be frustrated with is… where we don’t do what we say we’ll do. We publicly said that if you want water, you should voluntarily annex. We’re going to conditionally say yes. If you voluntarily annex, you get water… My answer is no. What I’d like to see is a voluntary annexation application on this that’s approved. [Then] you get water, wow!” 

Vice Mayor Jeff McKenna said he understands they want to annex, “and that would be the appropriate way to do it… so maybe we’re just out of sequence here. It’s going to get to the point where there’s going to be a project where after that point we can’t do’s going to happen.”

The discussion came to an end when the state ordered the town to stop selling water.Pennell said that number was 90% of capacity. “Then we’ve screwed everyone who’s already been paying taxes in town,” noted Nagle. He went on to say the town is not consistent about its stand on not selling water to projects outside of town limits.

The applicant’s representative, who was at the meeting, said the landowner had signed and submitted the voluntary annexation application, which was confirmed by Eller, who said it was not submitted in time to prepare it for the meeting. The council held off taking action on the request at the meeting until the application was presented to the town.
The board then approved the recreation complex site design proposal for the community center at Dottie Sherrill Knoll and the budget amendment to pay for the approximately $22,300 project. The Town Council Board also made committee assignments for board members. Ending the night, the council heard quarterly reports from the police and fire departments.