Weaverville – The August meeting of the Weaverville Town Council had a heavy workload on Monday night (August 28), including hearing from the public on fireworks, getting a presentation from the county tax accessor, and getting an update on the stormwater update.
Before getting into the substance of the agenda, Vice Mayor Jeff McKenna presented a proclamation recognizing September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to the Meinch family, who lost their daughter, Kalina, in 2021 to cancer.
The Council then approved the consent agenda with Town Manager Selena Coffey, going over each item, which included budget amendments for the police reappropriations and the recreation complex. There were also road closure ordinances for North Buncombe High Homecoming (September 29th) and “Holiday Parades,” previously called the Christmas Parade (December 2nd).
There were also several board appointments, to which Councilman Andrew Nagle brought up that Rob Chason had been the chairman of the ABC Board for 15 years, and “nothing against Rob, but that’s too long for anyone.” Mayor Patrick Fitzsimmons agreed and said this was the last time. The consent agenda also renewed a water commitment renewal for Chapel Crossing Development; the council then passed the consent agenda unanimously.
In her town manager’s report, Coffey first stated that the role of Recreation Coordinator and Community Center Manager had been filled by Sarah Myers, who had previously been the Weaverville Business Association Administrator and had filled the position.
The town’s Patriotic Activities Committee would host the 9/11 observance on Monday, September 11, and CodeRED implementation was continuing with staff training, hopefully by the end of this month or early September.
In other items on her report, she said the Strategic Planning Retreat was recommended for January 2024 and that the maintenance building has now been removed from the recreation complex area. Grading is scheduled to begin within days at this point. Still, they were “unable to open bids for our street improvements program for paving on the first bid deadline because we only received two bids and would be put out for bits again,” and the police department was nearing becoming the first in the state to be an electric vehicle/hybrid vehicle department.
Under public comments, only one person spoke. Jo Anna Vanderfolk complained about a neighbor boarding dogs and the continued yapping. She asked the council to look into it.
In discussion and action items, the Buncombe County Tax Assessor, Keith Miller, gave a very detailed and lengthy presentation on the reappraisal process coming up in 2025 (look for a more detailed article coming in the Tribune).
Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson gave an update on the Stormwater Program Update, followed by a Main Street Nature Park Stormwater Concepts/Visioning Presentation by Mary Roderick of the Land Of Sky Regional Council. Jackson introduced Roderick, who talked about the $50,000 grant for the stormwater study and how it led to the Nature Park Stormwater Concepts/Visioning.
Roderick said that the watershed drainage area for the park included about 80 acres, and she was starting with the water quality improvements. “Potentially, with some changes, the ecological improvements, the aquatic…improvements that could achieve both to optimize stormwater treatment and reduce flooding and stream bank erosion… that would require some expanded footprint.”
She made several changes to the park she presented, including expanding retention ponds. She failed to say how the changes would be paid for. “Maintaining the nature park is the focus.” Coffey commented, “This is the perfect example of what we want to include in the strategic plan.”
After that, the Eller Cove Watershed Trail Design was discussed. Coffey gave an overview of the project, saying the plan for the trail was designed by Peter Mills, owner and founder of Elevated Trail Design for the town, at a cost of just under $5,000. Coffey said they were working on a management plan with Elevated Trail Design to bring to the council with estimated costs.
Vice Mayor Jeff McKenna, a cyclist enthusiast, said volunteers could do this reasonably. Councilwoman Catherine Cordell worried about who might use the trail, saying it might be too difficult for most. McKenna said he had been out there and believed most town residents would have no problem with the track “either going on a stroll or hike.” The motion passed.
The council then took public comment on continuing fireworks at the Fourth of July event. All that spoke were for continuing fireworks. Fitzsimmons started by saying the matter had come up several weeks ago and the town had been searching for an alternative to fireworks.
Four speakers voiced their support for fireworks, and each of them was met with a round of applause by the majority of those in the room after their comments, starting with Donna MannBelt, who said, “Every year we get our friends and our neighbors and our camp chair, and we set up on main street…I observe hundreds of children with their families out celebrating July Fourth. All making memories just like I did.”
Jennifer Young, another resident and candidate for a seat on the council in November, said, “I live directly across from where the fireworks are set off every year…they’ve been going on since 1979…I’m probably impacted the greatest of anybody with these fireworks.” She said that her driveway is blocked, she has to pick shrapnel out of her yard, and she has renters affected. “But I consider all of that a blessing. Because this is just not just another town, this is a community.”
Darryl Fox explained the homecoming parade and Christmas parade, along with fireworks, “That’s tradition—tradition to us who live here and have for years. My family brought me to the fireworks. I came to the fireworks with my girlfriend, now my wife. I brought my children to the fireworks here. I continue to bring my grandkids.”
Jerri West Davis, who was born in town and lived here all her life, stated, “I have every year, four to five families call me,…saying, “Jerri, can I park in your driveway?’ And I say you sure can…We have to keep that [fireworks] going.” The council took no action during the meeting.
The council started the process on a voluntary annexation of 492 Reems Creek Rd. and heard an update on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Tax Collection Program, which the town had turned over to the county. At this point, Nagle admitted that he initially had misgivings about allowing the county to do collection but said he was wrong and that it was a good idea.
The council then heard the quarterly report from Police Chief Davis and Fire Chief Harris before adjourning for the night.