At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.
At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.
Here is a summary of the agenda of the 6/15/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below
Invocation by Chaplain Larry Bolick of Abernethy Laurels
Presentation of Proclamation to Rick Patton Declaring Monday, June 21, 2010 as “Ride to Work Day” Encouraging the Use of Scooters and Motorcycles - Whereas the price of fossil fuels is growing and supplies are diminishing. Whereas the use of fossil fuels continue to damage our health through pollution and future through global warming. Whereas our infrastructure repairs fail to keep pace with its degradation. Whereas scooters and motorcycles use less fuel, cause less pollution, and have little impact on our infrastructure. Whereas scooters and motorcycles require only a fraction of space required by other vehicles to park, thereby addressing another an ongoing problem in our city. Scooters and Motorcycles offer a form of daily transportation to be encouraged.
Mayor Wright spoke of a group called the Retreads that is having their convention here this week. It is also Mayor Wright's hope that the Harley Owners Group will Have their anual meeting here in the upcoming year.
A. Proclamation Declaring June 25, 2010 as “Dr. Jeffrey Kuch Day” in the City of Hickory
B. Approval of Award a Community Appearance Landscape Grant to Catawba Valley Behavioral Health for Non-Residential Property Located at 20 4th Street, SW in the Amount of $1,149.50 - The subject property is owned by The Mental Health Fund, Inc. and is occupied by Catawba Valley Behavioral Health. Catawba Valley Behavioral Health desires to improve the visual appearance of the property by installing and improving landscaping on the property. The cost of the improvements are estimated to be $2,299. On May 24, 2010 the Community Appearance Commission unanimously voted to recommend funding in the amount of $1,149.50.
C. Approve Resolution for Grant Application Authorization Through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to Purchase Equipment for the Hickory Police Department - The City’s grant application proposal has been approved for consideration through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) for the purchase of five in-car digital cameras and five radars at a cost of $42,500. Approval of the Resolution guarantees the City of Hickory’s commitment to the City’s portion in the amount of $18,125. These funds are budgeted.
D. Approve Future Annexation Agreement From Jerry and Sue Carroll for Property Located at 2253 19th Avenue, NE - Jerry and Sue Carroll have requested to be connected to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed into the City limits and agree to be annexed in the future when the City finds it economically feasible. The Carroll property is located at 2253 19th Avenue, NE, which is identified on the Catawba County tax maps by PIN 3723- 09-07-0352. Said property abuts the Parkview Subdivision and is immediately adjacent to the existing city boundary. No other properties along the street are within city limits, which would make availability of services impractical.
E. Approve Amendment to 2009 Urgent Repair Program Grant Income Limits - The City of Hickory was awarded $37,500 through the NC Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair Program to assist a minimum of eighteen eligible homes with urgently needed repairs and the City will provide matching funds available from the Rental Rehabilitation program income. Staff is requesting a change in income limits for the Assistance Policy, which will enable us to assist more families. Upon City Council’s approval, the Assistance Policy will be submitted to the NC Housing Finance Agency for approval.
F. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs:
Applicant Larry G. Pope is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Program for property located at 604 1st Street, SE in the amount of $6,500.
Applicant Carlos E. Emmett is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program for property located at 1528 Main Avenue Drive, NW in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for repairs to his home.
Funds are budgeted for the above items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or income received through the Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2009 Urgent Repair Program for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,000. Funds are budgeted through Hickory’s Community Development Department funding received in FY 2009-10.
Dorothy M. Adams; 235 10th Avenue, SE
Shirley A. Gray, 744 7th Avenue, SE
Linda H. Shade, 236 8th Avenue Drive, SW
G. Approval of Funding Agreement With Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority (WPRTA) for Transit Facility Located at Old S&W Chemical Site - Hickory City Council on June 1, 2010 approved a contribution of $150,000 to the WPRTA for their new transit facility to be located at the old S&W Chemical site in West Hickory. Entering into the Funding Agreement will protect the City’s $150,000 contribution and insure if the facility is not built that the City will recoup its contribution with interest. The tentative date for entering into the construction phase and having all project funding in place is December 2014. Said agreement stipulates failure to begin construction or have an approved project funding plan in place by December 31, 2014, the WPRTA will return all funds in full, including accumulated interest to the City by June 30, 2015. The project is a $3 to $4 million redevelopment project of a six acre site. The WPRTA will secure funding through the Federal Transit Authority.
H. Approve Construction of Bus Shelter on City-Owned Property Located Along the South Side of 7th Avenue, SW To Be Used by Greenway Public Transportation - The City of Hickory received a grant for the purchase of five covered bus shelters to be located at various sites in the City. City Staff and Greenway Transit, formerly Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority have worked together to select locations for the shelters within City limits. The intersection of 7th Avenue, SW and 4th Street, SW meets the requirements of having an existing high-usage bus stop. No easements are required for installation since it is City-owned property. No budgetary action is required.
Budget Ordinance Amendments
1. To budget a $823 insurance claim check from Nationwide Insurance Company in the Solid Waste Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item. This claim is for damage to a sanitation truck on 04-14-10.
2. To budget a $9,901 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the Fire Department Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item. This claim is for damage sustained to Fire Department vehicle on 05-13-10.
3. To budget $66,740 of intergovernmental revenue from Catawba County in the Fire Department Overtime line item. Funds are to pay for the 1st Technical Rescue class that was completed in May, 2010.
4. To appropriate $122,995 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Services (SAFER) Grant project. This represents year 2 local match for the multi year grant. This Grant was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security to fully staff the City of Hickory 2nd Ladder Company. The grant performance period runs from 04/30/09 - 04/29/14. The City of Hickory began the project July 1, 2009.
New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Land Development Code Text Amendment 10-01, Electronic Gaming Operations This public hearing was continued from the May 18, 2010 Council Meeting in order to gather additional information. This text amendment of the Land Development Code is to establish zoning regulations for Electronic Gaming Operations or what are commonly known as “Internet Sweepstakes Businesses”. Upon the Hickory Planning and Development Department’s research of these businesses, it was discovered there is an increasing number of other North Carolina municipalities and counties whom were also adopting zoning type regulations. There are currently six to seven electronic gaming operations within Hickory’s planning area. The proposed amendment would effectively grandfather the existing operations, since they existed prior to the enactment of this amendment. On April 28, 2010 the Hickory Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed text amendments to Section 7.1, Section 7.2 and to Section 16.1.
Cal Overby made the presentation by giving a brief synopis of the above and mentioning a few of the general locations of the Internet Sweepstakes businesses and introduced and addressed the following text amendment.
Staff attorney John Crone next addressed the Council by stating that in the prior meeting he had asked that this issue be continued to this meeting. He and staff attorney Arnita Dula have studied this issue and he went over some of what has been going on pertaining to this issue.
The legislature has several bills related to this issue. Some versions ban this all together, he stated that there is a question in his mind as well as others as to whether this is really gambling and whether this type of activity should be regulated anyway. Could this not be akin to going to Hickory Dickory Dock and playing games of chance. Some theory espouses that if we're not sure it's gambling and adults are doing it, then let's get something out of it. There are bills that will not tax them, but the state would get profits out of it.
There are a lot of municipalities that are taking a wait and see approach to see what the legislature will do. there are several cases in North Carolina where an injunction has been issued statewide. One such case, which has been applied to Burke County, it enjoins law enforcement officers from seizing these type machines. There are other cases pending throughout the state that attack various aspects of the procedure involved and the ordinances. The good thing is that Hickory's ordinance does not say though shall not have these types of machines, you can only have them in certain areas, and the ones operating now will be grandfathered. He stated that unless there is a burning desire to attack this issue this evening, then it may be more prudent... to keep abreast of the legislation... and come back to this issue.
Alderman Meisner asked, "we would not be keeping new ones from coming in?" Atty Crone stated that is correct. Mayor Wright stated we are already to the point of grandfathering 6 or 7. The mayor continued, "Tomorrow is town hall day in Raleigh... he will be asking representatives to please find a way to eliminate these gambling establishments that are sucker bets and take money used to feed, entertain, and nurture children. We ought to just call there bluff and say just close Chuck E. Cheese... We are comparing a compulsion that has griped some people, and its being promoted out there to Chuck E. Cheese and I just think that is absurd. I personally say, let's wait and see what the legislature does."
The Council followed Atty Crones recommended procedure of opening and closing the hearing. The Council voted the ordinance down, tabled it, and will come back to the issue at a later date.
The Hound believes the Council should have pulled the trigger on this one and passed this amendment. Mayor Wright said it best when he stated that,"If we sit back and say we will never pass a law because we are worried that it may be unconstitutional, then we may never pass anything."
This has been done out in the open and we all know that these sweepstakes negatively affect the poorest and least educated of our citizens. At the City Council meeting of December 15, 2009 I wrote:
It is obvious that these are gambling establishments and this state has since its inception regulated gambling. I was given a tip by many of my mentors over the years, "Follow the Money." Who are the people that own these businesses and where are they from and what are their associations in this state?I would just love to know how Attorney Crone can state that he questions whether this is gambling. What I have seen is that these games directly involve playing for cash. The people who play these games are looking to obtain easy money. It isn't regulated, which means there are no guaranteed payouts. This isn't an enterprise of entertainment like going to Las Vegas, which is fully regulated with governmental, mandated payouts. If this is going to be legal, then why not go ahead and allow all gambling. Heck, let's have horse tracks and dog tracks. They are certainly more lucrative.
Next, I would like to see the city look into collecting sales tax from these sales of "Sweepstakes Fees" or see if that isn't permissible, then our do nothing representatives from this area need to introduce and support legislation that will allow us to create a special tax to collect revenue off of these operations. And if those legislators aren't willing to do so, then it is time to start looking for someone who will represent our ideals.
The City and County get revenue when McDonald's sells a sandwich or the grocery
store has a giveaway, and the Education Lottery is supposed to operate under the
guise of a Public Service (sort of non-profit), but these little hole in the wall gambling centers are all about easy money for the for profit vendors. Look
where these things are sprouting up. They prey upon the poor. It's just like the
"cash for gold" stores. In the end they lead to crime and perpetrate needless
anxieties and broken dreams.
2. Petition 10-03 – Rezoning of the Property Located at 2040 25th Street Drive, NE From R-3 Residential to OI-1 Office and Institutional - This 0.39 acre property is located at 2040 25th Street Drive, NE and is owned by Hildebran Investment Properties, LLC. The property owners petitioned to have the property rezoned from R-3 Residential to OI-1 Office and Institutional. The Hickory Future Land Use and Transportation Plan classifies the property as Primary Residential. The Land Development Code states that rezonings to OI-1 are inconsistent with the Primary Residential future land use classification unless the properties are within ¼ mile of an existing NC-1, NC-2, C-1 or C-2 zoning district or the property has frontage on a major thoroughfare. The rezoning is consistent with Hickory by Choice due to the property being adjacent to a NC-1 zoning district. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on May 26, 2010 voted unanimously to recommend approval of this rezoning.approval. Dave Leonetti addressed the Council on this issue and the council unanimously approved the petition.
3. Resolution and Order for Petition of the City of Hickory to Close Three Portions of Right-Of-Way Adjacent to City-Owned Property Located at 740 5th Avenue, SW - On April 30, 2010 Staff Attorney, Arnita Dula on behalf of the City of Hickory submitted a petition to close three portions of right-of-way adjacent to City owned property located at 740 5th Avenue, SW in order to proceed with an 11-lot subdivision to be constructed on the property. The portions of right-of-way are no longer necessary for public use and appear would not be contrary to public interest. It is recommended that the City retain a 25’ easement for all existing public utilities in the areas to be closed. Due to the cancellation of the July 6 Council Meeting and the need to move forward a second reading is requested to be held on June 15, 2010. Todd Hefner addressed the Council on this issue and the council unanimously approved the resolution and approved on second reading.
Person(s) requesting to be heard: Several people came to this council meeting related to the Hickory swimming pool issue (closing of). Three people signed up to address the issue. The Mayor stated that after speaking with a significant number of Council members today, without taking a vote, is that we want to get some additional information on the usage of the pools, so that everyone can understand the cost/benefit analysis that the city has gone through on this issue. Although the budget has been approved, in extraordinary circumstances we can deal with issues that arise -- or changed information. What I am saying to you is when we hear you speak tonight, it will be without closed minds and with the understanding that we want to convey to you our understanding as well so that we have a mutual dialogue. You express your side and we express the staff and city side and we get to where we need to be.
Reverend David Roberts addressed the council - He stated that he is new to the area and is the pastor of the largest African-American church in the area, which is located in the Ridgeview community. The active attendance is 350 to 400 members. They are very much attuned to what goes on in the community. We rise and say that it has been brought to our attention that there were plans, which you just eloquently illustrated that you do plan to revisit the closing of the pools in West Hickory and Ridgeview.
Being somewhat of a Historian myself, I did some research and talked to some of the key people in this city. I came across this document, which I am sure that you are aware of called the Ridgeview Redevelopment plan established in 1999. In his readings, in 1992 signed by City Manager Gary McGee, that there were extensive plans renovate and refurbish the pool. That was revisited again in 1995 and 1999.
Upon coming to this community, I was at a meeting of the Ridgeview Concerned Citizens where in 2009 there was a promise made that by the year 2010 the renovations would have been done and the pool would have been opened. A letter was sent from Miles Champion to Mac McLeod on May 20, 2009 stating that the George Ivey Pool association had done some research and come up with some documents and some data on how to fix and repair the pool.
Catawba County, Mr. Jim Wilson received a letter on May 27, 2009 stated that they needed to fix it so that they could have a whole time turnover within 24 hours and that until that was done that the pool was recommended to be closed for 2009 and be reopened. Another letter on June 5, 2009 showed estimated costs detailed by the George Ivey Pool association and a reminder of the Virginia Grimes Baker act of 2007 detailing what needed to be done for the pool to be operable.
Pastor Roberts continued with further detailed requests and recommendations. He stated that when he came here that he went to the Citizen Class (College) and he was impressed that this was an All-American City and being an All-American Citizen says that you are concerned about every citizen in an All-American City. The citizens of the Ridgeview Community want their pool and they have that right. Angela Forrest runs a camp and her kids use the pool extensively and Morningstar (Church) has a camp and our kids use the pool.
Another lady spoke but I didn't catch her name. She stated that she came on behalf of the citizens of Ridgeview and as a citizen of Ridgeview. She was a part of the strategy in 1999 and they put things in and took things out. She remembers a promise made for the athletic complex and on of them was a pool. The only thing the citizens of Ridgeview ask is that you stand on the promise you made in 1999, 2005, 2008, and 2009. Here we are in 2010 and the pool is closed. We ask you again to revisit it and stand on your promises for the citizens of Hickory.
Ralph Connelly spoke next by stating that he has concerns. The purpose of this letter is to inform Council to honor the proposed maintenance and upgrades of Ridgeview and Westmont swimming pools. When he was a young person, Ridgeview Recreation Center was a field before it became a swimming pool or a center. It was promised by parents and officials with the city that they would have recreation and a pool. Can you imagine the joy that they felt, when they knew that this was going to take place. When others, from other cities around us, visited us, it made us proud of our city. It gave us a feeling of metropolitan. It was a very positive atmosphere and image. His daughter took swimming lessons at West Hickory and when his grandchildren visited from Florida, they took them to the Rigeview facility, which they very much enjoyed. He was pleased to read in the paper in 2009 that the city was going to repair and update the pool. This showed concern, responsibility, and stewardship on the city's part for them, but they have decided not to reopen the pools. This news was very disappointing. The pools are a beacon for the youth and keep them occupied during the summer months. As a city taxpayer, he hopes that they will reconsider the decision to reopen the pools as soon as possible.
Mayor Wright thanked the people for addressing the Council so eloquently. Alderman Meisner stated that he had done some research and every council member needs to see what he sees. Once this is dissemenated and dialogued... the Reverend made reference to the Paddock proposal, which was $250,000 and Aquatic wanted $366,000. Some people might remember that there was a larger crowd there when they closed the St. Stephens pool. His daughter had been a ligeguard there back in the 1980s and it has had four times the use. The bill to repair that was $330,000. The Mayor stated that he would like them to put together the fact sheet. How much usage and per pool per day, Cost per usage and compare it with St. Stephens and West Hickory.
But, he doesn't want them to come back to this meeting and discuss it without the same information that we do (the Council). He challenged staff and encouraged them to put together the information and let the folks who are here tonight, who have shown interest, and let them see the things the city is wrestling with. Alder Patton stated that they need to also have the the information about why the costs are so high (the pipes underneath), so that we have those facts and figures to support the community. Why it is costing $300,000 to $400,000. Alderman Lail stated that what he is hearing is "Don't close the pool." But the larger message is that we need that water recreational opportunity for Summer and we need to fold that in there to. We are talking about repair bills of $250,000. There are ways that we could meet needs that wouldn't involve digging up concrete and building new drains. There are other water recreation oppotunities and we can see what those might be. Manager Berry stated that they would do that.
The Mayor said that he appreciated the people coming out and showing their commitment and for the presenters being professional, matter of fact, and letting the Council know what was on the line.The Hound believes this is the way that government is supposed to work. If more people took this kind of interest in the operation, implementation, and administration of public policy, then I don't believe our society would not be facing the troubles we see today. Mayor Wright originally came to office 8 1/2 years ago because of a city government that had become insulated and was not reflective of the values of our community. This was reflected in a City Council that felt it was alright to go to Philadelphia and spend thousands of dollars on wine and food at local taxpayers expense.
I do feel that Mayor Wright does care about the welfare of our community, but over time he became part of the governmental process. But, in moments like these, when the situation comes back to reality, we see the Original Rudy that people put their faith in, in 2001.
I think that Pastor Roberts got to the heart of the matter when he stated that when he came to Hickory that he went to the Citizen College and he was impressed that this was an All-American City and being an All-American Citizen says that you are concerned about every citizen in an All-American City. That is what the Hound has been getting at. That is what Harry Hipps talked about in his City Council campaign.
It isn't about an agenda of the moment or playing politics by addressing one group one way and another group another. It isn't about enriching yourself at the expense of others who have no connected interests. The mentality of looking out for everyones interests is a way of life. As I have stated a million times, this community's viability will rest upon the backs of the average, ordinary citizens. As their health and welfare go, so will the quality of life in this community. Kids don't vote, but they are the future of this community. If we don't invest in that future, then there will be no hope of a positive future.
You can go back and look at this blog, the resolution made at this meeting is all that we asked for; to look at the viability of the pools and work towards tangible near term and long term solutions.
Below are links that delved into these matters:
Continuing the Rant - The City of Hickory's Budget
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 1, 2010
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 4, 2010
HDR Editorial - Hickory council needs a member with vision