Michael Bobbitt: Notes From The Peanut Gallery (VC BOC 1/7/2013)


Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments 

Monday night’s Commissioners meeting opened with two separate public hearings both regarding changes, text amendments, to the County’s zoning ordinance.  The first change, text amendment, was intended to allow the installation of accessory solar collectors and large scale solar farms.  By definition solar collectors and solar farms are forbidden because they are excluded from the zoning ordinance.  Mr. McMillen explained that the Planning and Environmental Committee met six hours before the Commissioners meeting and requested that the text amendment become two separate changes to the Zoning Ordinance; one specific to solar collectors and the other for solar farms.  Mr. Ben Finch the designated spokesperson for Carolina Solar Energy LLC II, spoke favorably for the change(s) to the zoning ordinance.  Part of the justification for this change is based on the thinking ‘if others are doing this then we need to do it also’; always good logic.  Mr. Finch said that solar sites (farms) require no county services and cause no environmental impact.  Beyond short term construction jobs there is little gain for the county.  Also, everything man does impacts the environment.   There was no one to speak against this ordinance change except the Commissioners themselves.  Commissioner Wilder objects to solar farms in agricultural – residential zones because they take away from the rural environment.  Commissioner Brummitt stated the Planning and Environmental Committee recommended taking no action on the solar farm part of the ordinance change until the ordinance included removal cost of obsolete collectors.  Commissioner Wright asked if taxpayers’ money (grants) was available to defer the cost of solar collector installation on individual homes.  Mr. McMillen said there were income tax incentives only.  The Board approved only the ordinance for home solar collectors. 

Next up was a lesson in citizen action.  Ms. Susette McLendon, spoke to the Commissioners on September 2012, requesting amending the zoning ordinance prohibiting the use of a recreational vehicle (any type of vehicle used for recreational purposes, i.e., tent, camping trailer, 5th wheeler, and motor home) as temporary or permanent living quarters.  Three individuals spoke favoring the ordinance change including Ms. McLendon and one spoke opposing the ordinance.  Commissioner Brummitt stated the proposed changes do not make the ordinance compliant to State law that prohibits long-term living in motor homes.  Commissioner Taylor asked about the grandfathering of recreational vehicles already connected to water and septic services.  Mr. McMillen stated there was no grandfather clause once the ordinance was approved and implemented.  Commissioner Taylor objected to an ordinance that prohibits a large land owner (over 100 acres) from putting a camper on their land for 6 months.  Commissioner Taylor pointed out the ordinance does not restrict use of a tent and Mr. McMillen agreed that tents are not included.  Commissioner Brown stated that a camper is not designed or intended for long term use.  This is true unless you are issued one by FEMA following hurricanes Katrina, then Ike, and now Sandy.  The zoning ordinance was amended to prohibit using recreational vehicles, except tents, for temporary or permanent living quarters with only Commissioner Taylor opposing the ordinance. 

Request of No Wake Zone

Mr. Allen Hunter requested the Board to start the process that would create a no wake zone near his boat dock that is located on a narrow tributary of Kerr Lake near Flemingtown road.  Apparently to secure a no wake zone the first step is through the Commissioners who must pass the request on to the Wildlife Resources Commission.  Listening to Mr. Hunter’s explanation for the need one understood that common courteously and politeness is lacking among the boat owners who frequent that narrow tributary.  The Board accepted Mr. Hunter’s request assigning the task to Mr. McMillen.  

Public Comments

Mr. John Jaines, a minister from Charlotte, made a rambling presentation about crime and abandoned properties in Vance County.  Mr. Jones’ started his presentation saying, “Vance County is in dire straits and that is why we are here tonight,” just rubs this person the wrong way.  We all realize there is a problem in our fair community.  Having an outsider show up saying he can fix the problem if we hand over our abandoned house to his church he will fix them up and solve our crime rate.  I personally believe if that was the solution we could have solved our crime rate last year.  Mr. Jaines made it perfectly clear he had not spoken to anyone in our County’s law enforcement or faith based community before speaking to the Board.  He was introduced to Mr. Sossoman at the conclusion of his public comment.

Committee Reports

The Technology Committee is working on selecting the best option to jump start the Board into the 21st century of technology.  A decision will be announced at the February regular meeting.  I hope we see the results of that decision on the Thursday before the meeting with the posting of the Board’s packet to the County’s own website instead being printed then scanned into HomeInHenderson. 

Annual Planning Retreat

The date for the retreat was changed to Wednesday January 23, 2013.  Mr. Asycue asked the Commissioners for their suggestions of topics for the retreat.  Chairman Hester said he wants to find ways to save money.  Personally I want a stronger better paid Sheriff Department and Fire Department, and more money for salaries of County employees. We need money to maintain and repair County buildings such as the fire stations and much less begging at the taxpayers’ trough for grants. 

Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments 

Monday night’s Commissioners meeting opened with two separate public hearings both regarding changes, text amendments, to the County’s zoning ordinance.  The first change, text amendment, was intended to allow the installation of accessory solar collectors and large scale solar farms.  By definition solar collectors and solar farms are forbidden because they are excluded from the zoning ordinance.  Mr. McMillen explained that the Planning and Environmental Committee met six hours before the Commissioners meeting and requested that the text amendment become two separate changes to the Zoning Ordinance; one specific to solar collectors and the other for solar farms.  Mr. Ben Finch the designated spokesperson for Carolina Solar Energy LLC II, spoke favorably for the change(s) to the zoning ordinance.  Part of the justification for this change is based on the thinking ‘if others are doing this then we need to do it also’; always good logic.  Mr. Finch said that solar sites (farms) require no county services and cause no environmental impact.  Beyond short term construction jobs there is little gain for the county.  Also, everything man does impacts the environment.   There was no one to speak against this ordinance change except the Commissioners themselves.  Commissioner Wilder objects to solar farms in agricultural – residential zones because they take away from the rural environment.  Commissioner Brummitt stated the Planning and Environmental Committee recommended taking no action on the solar farm part of the ordinance change until the ordinance included removal cost of obsolete collectors.  Commissioner Wright asked if taxpayers’ money (grants) was available to defer the cost of solar collector installation on individual homes.  Mr. McMillen said there were income tax incentives only.  The Board approved only the ordinance for home solar collectors. 

 

Next up was a lesson in citizen action.  Ms. Susette McLendon, spoke to the Commissioners on September 2012, requesting amending the zoning ordinance prohibiting the use of a recreational vehicle (any type of vehicle used for recreational purposes, i.e., tent, camping trailer, 5th wheeler, and motor home) as temporary or permanent living quarters.  Three individuals spoke favoring the ordinance change including Ms. McLendon and one spoke opposing the ordinance.  Commissioner Brummitt stated the proposed changes do not make the ordinance compliant to State law that prohibits long-term living in motor homes.  Commissioner Taylor asked about the grandfathering of recreational vehicles already connected to water and septic services.  Mr. McMillen stated there was no grandfather clause once the ordinance was approved and implemented.  Commissioner Taylor objected to an ordinance that prohibits a large land owner (over 100 acres) from putting a camper on their land for 6 months.  Commissioner Taylor pointed out the ordinance does not restrict use of a tent and Mr. McMillen agreed that tents are not included.  Commissioner Brown stated that a camper is not designed or intended for long term use.  This is true unless you are issued one by FEMA following hurricanes Katrina, then Ike, and now Sandy.  The zoning ordinance was amended to prohibit using recreational vehicles, except tents, for temporary or permanent living quarters with only Commissioner Taylor opposing the ordinance. 

 

Request of No Wake Zone

Mr. Allen Hunter requested the Board to start the process that would create a no wake zone near his boat dock that is located on a narrow tributary of Kerr Lake near Flemingtown road.  Apparently to secure a no wake zone the first step is through the Commissioners who must pass the request on to the Wildlife Resources Commission.  Listening to Mr. Hunter’s explanation for the need one understood that common courteously and politeness is lacking among the boat owners who frequent that narrow tributary.  The Board accepted Mr. Hunter’s request assigning the task to Mr. McMillen.  

 

Public Comments

Mr. John Jaines, a minister from Charlotte, made a rambling presentation about crime and abandoned properties in Vance County.  Mr. Jones’ started his presentation saying, “Vance County is in dire straits and that is why we are here tonight,” just rubs this person the wrong way.  We all realize there is a problem in our fair community.  Having an outsider show up saying he can fix the problem if we hand over our abandoned house to his church he will fix them up and solve our crime rate.  I personally believe if that was the solution we could have solved our crime rate last year.  Mr. Jaines made it perfectly clear he had not spoken to anyone in our County’s law enforcement or faith based community before speaking to the Board.  He was introduced to Mr. Sossoman at the conclusion of his public comment.

 

Committee Reports

The Technology Committee is working on selecting the best option to jump start the Board into the 21st century of technology.  A decision will be announced at the February regular meeting.  I hope we see the results of that decision on the Thursday before the meeting with the posting of the Board’s packet to the County’s own website instead being printed then scanned into HomeInHenderson. 

 

Annual Planning Retreat

The date for the retreat was changed to Wednesday January 23, 2013.  Mr. Asycue asked the Commissioners for their suggestions of topics for the retreat.  Chairman Hester said he wants to find ways to save money.  Personally I want a stronger better paid Sheriff Department and Fire Department, and more money for salaries of County employees. We need money to maintain and repair County buildings such as the fire stations and much less begging at the taxpayers’ trough for grants.