1. Scattered Site Program
Chairman Garrison opened the September County Commissioners’ regular monthly meeting with a public hearing regarding a change in last month’s approved Scattered Site Housing Program. Note, this Scattered Site Housing Program should not be confused with Section 8 Scattered Site Housing Program as I did that last month. The Commissioners collectively held their breath awaiting someone among the audience to speak for or against the change. No one did, so Ms. Julie Reed, Council of Government, was asked to advise the Commissioners of the change before they approved the change. She did and they did. The change is to use our collective tax dollars (Community Development Block Grant) to demolish then rebuild someone’s house “to enhance the vitality of communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities.”
2. Planning & Development Rezoning Request
This was the second of two public hearings scheduled for this meeting and the only one with public comment. At issue was a request to re-zone .79 of an acre of non-contiguous mostly wooded vacant land to allow the property owner to subdivide the non-contiguous portions. The lone person to speak (I did not hear her last name), asked what future intentions the owner is planning. Mr. McMillen said property owners are not required to give a reason for a zoning change. Commissioner Hester asked that if future changes would require Board approval; the answer was yes. Commissioner Brown asked if the $250 fee was paid; answer yes it was. The rezoning request was approved.
3. Planning & Development Ordinance #33 Violation
This month’s meeting was a busy time for the Planning & Development Department. Besides the rezoning request and the Ordinance #33 violation there is the Water Board meeting and the Economic Development closed session part yet to come. As I followed along with Mr. McMillen’s presentation I wondered why the property owner has been so unresponsive to the county’s request to remove their burned out house.
4. Public Comments
It pleases me to see the public attend and speak at these meetings. Ms. Suzette McClendon made a succinct presentation to the Commissioners regarding apparent violations of zoning restriction occurring near her property. If you were in attendance, you witnessed the proper way to make your public comment. Ms. McClendon came prepared with a presentation and opened her remarks asking to approach and distribute her presentation. She concluded her presentation asking the Commissioner representing her district to come visit her home and personally view the situation. Commissioner Brown very politely refused the invitation saying that even though “[Commissioners] can travel many of the roads in Vance County.”, she had differed the issue to the County Manager.
5. Water District Board
This is always a fun part of the Commissioner meeting a sort of masquerade without masks or pretenses. Political science and history classes should schedule time to attend Commissioner meetings’ when the Water District Board is also meeting. Based on my notes the Chairman adjourned the Commissioners’ meeting and called to order the Water Board Meeting at 7:25pm. Tim Carpenter with Hobbs and Upchurch made his last presentation to the Water Board. Mr. McMillen distributed documents that were not included in the packet of documents released by the County Manager at noon on Friday September 7, 2012. Here are some of the highlights of Mr. Carpenter’s remarks. There are permitted and unpermitted new locations for water lines as a result of additional signups. And these new locations will increase the overall cost of the project. The Water Board approved spending some $400,000 additional dollars for the new water lines. Mr. Carpenter added that permitting for section 2A & 2B have been submitted for approval. Once approved the bidding for pipe laying and installing the water tank are the next steps. In all the excitement about signups no one has ever said we are at or have achieved the 80% signup requirement for the USDA grant funds.
Back to the documents in the packet, Mr. McMillen explained the need for the Water Board’s approval to sell 5,000 gallons of water at a rate at least in excess of .75% of the median family income based on the 2000 census data. The Water Board did not question the logic here. Without vote or discussion regarding the $255,000 Construction Inspection Plan the Water Board adjourned and the Commissioners meeting re-convened at 7:53 pm.
6. County Attorney’s Report, Committee Reports and Recommendations and County Manager’s Report
Some or all of the supporting documents for these three parts of the meeting were not included in the packet of documents released by the County Manager. This is the public session of the meeting not the closed session. The lack of documents forced the meeting into recess so the County Manager could obtain the necessary supporting documentation.
7. Closed Session – Economic Development and (many?) Legal Matters
Based on my notes the Closed Session started at 8:16 pm and the meeting doors remained closed until shortly after 9 pm. The Vice-Chairman gaveled the meeting open and stated there was one topic to present. Commissioner Wilder quickly moved that the County approve “to match funding for the creation of jobs.” I did not hear who seconded the motion before the unanimous vote. Nothing in Commissioner Wilder’s motion identified the purpose of the matching funds. Commissioner Wilder is unaware that when a member of the Economic Development Commission exited the closed meeting he spoke briefly to those waiting in the vestibule. He said he favored cleaning up that part of town. Those in the vestibule clearly understood that part of town meant the north end where the old, now vacant, Ambassador Inn is located. I suggest we all act surprised when the County officially announces their $3,500 matching funds to the City’s for the resurrection of the old, now vacant, Ambassador Inn.